Intensive Care Unit (ICU)

The Critical Care Program at Joseph Brant Hospital will strive to provide best care for our patients in partnership with our patients and caregivers.

We are committed to:

  • Provide you with timely access to high quality care in a safe and comfortable
  • Share meaningful information about your plan of care so you can make informed
  • Involve you and those most important to you in your care.
  • Listen and respond to your needs in order to build a trusting relationship.
  • Care for you with respect, compassion and dignity.

Our commitment to one another

We all have a role to ensure we have a healthy, safe and respectful place for healing in our critical care unit. As care providers, patients and families we are committed to:

  • Respecting each other.
  • Listen and engage to build trust and mutual understanding.
  • Involve one another and work as a team.
  • Take accountability for our actions and the impact they have on others.
  • Learn from our experiences and continuously improve.

The Health Care Team

All staff members of the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) work together as a team to
manage patient care, each member has special training and skills to care for
the ICU patient.

The healthcare team reviews the care and updates the progress of every patient in ICU on a daily basis and throughout the day as necessary. Each person’s experience in the ICU is different, it is normal for patients and their caregivers to need support to help manage and cope with this experience.

Your health care team understands this and is here to support you. Talk to us if you have any worries or concerns, we can help. We are partners with you in this journey.

Health Care Provider


Intensivist (or Critical Care Physician)

Is the primary physician for you or your loved one and monitors your medical care and answers your questions or concerns related to treatment.

The Critical Care Nurses

 A registered nurse who has advanced training in the care of the critically ill patients. The nurses provide and coordinate your direct care, they continuously monitor and communicate any changes to the physician. You may have different nurses during your stay.

ICU Manager

Is responsible for the overall management of the unit, although may not be on site at all times. If you have problems or concerns, please feel free to speak with the Manager.

ICU Clinical Educator

Develops and provides education for health care team in the ICU.


Reviews your medications, explains how the medications work and how they may interact with other medications you are taking.

Registered Dietitian

Assess your nutritional needs for oral, tube feeding, or intravenous diets and offers you education special diets.

Respiratory Therapist 

Takes care of the "breathing machine" (ventilator) and will monitor patients' breathing status throughout the day and night.

Social Worker 

Provides emotional support to help you and your caregivers cope with the impact of critical illness. May provide recommendations for support resources available in the community.


Assist patients with mobilization and deep breathing exercises. 

Speech Language Pathologist 

May offer communication strategies or complete a swallowing assessment to determine the food texture that is most safe for you. 

Occupational Therapy 

Can help improve function with activities of daily living. 


 Support family members in the ICU.

The ICU Environment 

When visiting, you may feel overwhelmed by all the equipment and tubes around your family member. Ask the health care team if you have any questions about the equipment. This equipment has alarms that may sound, these alarms are safety devices to let the staff know about possible problems.

The Heart Monitor

Patients in the ICU may be connected to a cardiac monitor that records heart rate and blood pressure. The information on the bedside cardiac monitor is also displayed at the nurses’ station. If the monitor sounds an alarm at the bedside, the monitor at the nurses’ station will also alarm. This alerts staff to the bedside to find out why the alarm has sounded.

The Ventilator

A breathing machine or the ventilator helps with some or all of the work of breathing. While on a ventilator, the patient is unable to talk. At times, a patient on a ventilator may cough and cause the alarm to sound. Coughing may indicate the patient needs to be suctioned by the nurse or the respiratory therapist. Suctioning clears away the secretions allowing the patient to breathe easier. Suctioning does not hurt, but it may be uncomfortable. Patients on a ventilator will be given medication for comfort.

Daily Routines in the ICU

Blood-taking, X-rays and ECGs (monitoring of heart rhythm) are mostly done in the morning. These and other tests may be repeated at any other time of the day or night depending on patient’s needs. Throughout the day and night, the nurse coordinates and provides all direct patient care. Each ICU nurse cares for one or two patients at a time.

Any changes in the patient’s condition are communicated throughout the shifts to the physician. The nurses also communicate with other healthcare team members so that all patients’ needs are met.


We welcome visits from family and friends, and appreciate that it supports the healing process. We ask that you use the intercom to call the Unit before entering.

Please be aware that situations can arise quickly that make it necessary to alter the visiting guidelines or restrict visiting. If this is the case, we will make you aware as soon as possible.

 We must balance the wishes and needs of all patients and families in each room, while providing patient care. The number of visitors at any time for each patient can be determined in discussion with the health care team.

Children are welcome, and must be directly supervised by an adult who is not a patient.

Please ask a member of your health care team caregiver for more information regarding visiting between the hours of 10 p.m. and 6 a.m.

Contacts between the family and the healthcare team

In Ontario, every patient who cannot make decisions for themselves has a Substitute Decision Maker (SDM). The team legally can share the information with the SDM only and the role of SDM is to make decisions if the patient is incapable. In this way, we ensure that the patient’s privacy is protected. We trust that SDM decides how they will share information about their loved one with the rest of the family. If there are multiple SDMs, we ask them to decide who will be the contact person, so the continuity of information is maintained. This does not mean that the chosen spoke person has more power to make decision than other SDMs; it just simplifies the communication and provides both the family and the team time and energy to focus on caring for the ill patient.

Being present at rounds:

Every day, the health care team talks about your progress and care plan moving forward, these meetings are called rounds. If the patient or SDM provides their consent (agrees), we welcome family to attend rounds.

During rounds you have a chance to:

  • Share important information with the team.
  • Hear a quick update about your loved ones condition.
  • Ask questions.

Attending family meetings:

Sometimes, the healthcare team may ask the patient or SDM in support with other family members to make a decision about the patients care. In this case, we will arrange a family meeting, these meetings give you a chance to meet many of the team members and talk about your loved one’s progress. We will work with you to schedule the meeting at a convenient time for everyone. Meetings may occur in the patient room or a meeting room on the unit.

Helping with daily care:

Friends and family play an important role in patient care. Please speak to a member of the healthcare team about how you can help care for your loved one.

Some examples of how you can help include:

• Helping to bath.

• Combing their hair.

• Brushing their teeth.

• Assisting with leg and arm exercises.

• Having a conversation, listening to music, sharing a story or watching TV.

Preparing for your transition

When patients are better, they no longer require special monitoring and life
support, so they are transferred to the appropriate patient care unit, home or
the community. This means that your family member’s condition has improved and no longer requires continuous medical and nursing attention. Nurses on medical
units have skills to care for more patients, so be sure that you or your loved
one will continue to receive quality care regardless of the location on our hospital.
The decision to transfer a patient out of the ICU is made by the physician
along with members of the interdisciplinary team. Our goal is to transfer
patients from the ICU during the day or evening hours. Occasionally, a patient
may need to be transferred at night. You will be informed when you or your
loved one is transferred from the ICU. All patients transferring from the ICU
are accompanied by the ICU nurse to share important care information to the
receiving care team.

For more information about community health services support within the Hamilton, Niagara, Haldimand, Brant area, please visit this website:

Follow up from the Critical Care Response Team (CCRT):

Once on the medical unit, the ICU team will continue to be involved in your care or the care of your loved one. This team is called the Critical Care Response Team, which consists of ICU nurses, and respiratory therapists. In the first 24 hours of being transferred to the ward, the Critical Care Response Team (CCRT) will check-up on the patient’s progress.

Contact Us

The Intensive Care Unit is located at 4S100 & 4S200. Level 4, South Tower, 100 & 200 wings.

ICU Main Desk 905-632-3737 ext. 4121



Contact Us:

Joseph Brant Hospital
1230 North Shore Blvd.
Burlington, ON L7S 1W7


P: 905-632-3737