What is Intensive Care?

At Retreat Doctors’ Hospital in Richmond, Virginia, Intensive Care, also sometimes referred to as Critical Care, is a hospital unit that provides continuous 24/7 monitoring of patients who are critically ill with life-threatening injury or diseases. Specially trained staff members in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) include doctors (sometimes called Intensivists), nurses, respiratory therapists, clinical nurse specialists, pharmacists, physical therapists, nurse practitioners, physician assistants, dietitians, social workers, and chaplains.

In the ICU, patients are often connected to a host of equipment, and receive constant, personal attention. Some of the machines that can be involved in ICU patient care include advanced heart monitors, ventilators for breathing assistance, feeding tubes, and catheters. Because of the high degree of intervention associated with these devices, infections can become more common.

Visitor Information

When a loved one becomes critically ill, it can be a very stressful and emotional time for friends and family of the patient. We want to help reduce your anxiety with open communication.


As your loved one is admitted to the ICU we ask that you wait in the visitors' lounge located directly outside of the ICU. We will notify you as soon as your loved one is able to have guests. This process can take an hour or longer depending on the patient's condition. We ask that you please be patient as we address your loved ones needs.


Our goal is to provide the highest quality care in a safe, family-centered environment. Visiting times are flexible as we understand families are an important part of the healing process. There may be times when visitors are restricted in the best interest of the patient. These times may include: during testing or procedures, if the patient needs to rest and for nurse communication during shift changes. During restricted visitation times you will be asked to wait in the visitor's lounge. We appreciate your understanding as we care for your loved one. Please use the phone outside the unit before entering.

What to Expect

Upon entering your loved one's room you may notice they are surrounded by equipment, monitors and tubing, which is specific to each patient's individual needs. You may also hear various alarms. Our nursing staff is skilled in understanding what these alarms mean and will respond appropriately.

Designating a Key Contact Person

Upon admission to the ICU we ask that you designate one person as the primary contact. This will eliminate multiple calls and allow us to focus on caring for your loved one. This individual should call after 9:00am to receive updates and pass on information to family and friends.

During admission, a passcode will be issued to the designated contact person. Due to federal laws that protect patient's privacy, only those with the authorized code will be provided with information regarding the patient's condition over the telephone. Please refrain from sharing the code with others. We will defer all outside calls to the primary contact.

What to Bring

For patient safety we ask that you not bring flowers to your loved one. Also, please check with the nursing staff regarding patient's dietary restrictions prior to bringing food or beverages into the unit.

Important Decisions

Because patients who are in the ICU are critically ill, it is important for the patient and their loved ones to know that their wishes will be honored. Decisions regarding end-of-life care are difficult to make, and as such, we recommend that patients have an Advanced Directive on file with our hospital. This document allows patients to clearly articulate their medical wishes, should they be too sick to make choices on their own. An Advanced Directive also establishes a “healthcare proxy,” or someone who is trusted to make decisions on behalf of the patient if they are unable to do so.