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Frequently Asked Questions

Here are answers to some frequently asked questions about the cardiac care experience at Suburban Hospital, as well as important phone numbers you may need during your loved one's stay. If you have additional questions, please ask the unit nurse or manager.

When can I talk with the medical team?

Feel free to approach our staff at any time. With its many alarms, monitors and devices, both the cardiology care unit (CCU) and cardiothoracic unit (CTU) are busy environments. However, the physicians, nurses, therapists and other staff welcome the opportunity to answer your questions. There are no wrong questions and it’s OK to ask questions more than once. We suggest writing down your questions to make them easier to remember.

What are the visiting hours?

Visiting hours are open except from 7 a.m. to 8 a.m. and 7 p.m. to 8 p.m. This is the first hour of each work shift, when nurses and doctors update the incoming staff. To respect the privacy of all of our patients, we ask that during these times, visitors take a break in the waiting room. Visitation for some patients may be limited, depending on their condition.

How many visitors can be in the room at one time?

We ask that only two visitors be in a patient’s room at once; other visitors can stay in the waiting room. If more than two people want to visit at once, please check with the nurse. Visitors suffering from a cold or the flu are asked not to come.

Can children visit in the CTU or CCU?

Generally, children under age two are not permitted in the CTU or CCU. However, under some circumstances, it may be allowed. You must get permission from the nurse before bringing a child into the patient room. If your child is granted a one-time visit, please stay with your child and visit for 15 minutes or less.

What should I say to my loved one in the CTU?

In the CTU, speak normally to the patient. Keep in mind that your loved one may not be able to respond because of his or her condition. If the patient has a breathing tube, ask questions that can be answered with “yes” or “no” nods. If he or she is sedated or under the effect of anesthesia, you can still talk to the patient. Touching can also help your loved one. Sometimes, too much noise or too many visitors can affect the patient’s blood pressure, heart rate or breathing. In this case, a nurse may ask you to step out of the room until the patient relaxes. 

Should I bring anything from home?
Familiar belongings help people feel better; however, check with the nurse before bringing any personal or electronic items to the CTU. Photographs, cards, slippers and robes are usually acceptable. Please do not hang anything on the wall or bring items of value.

What can I do to help?

As we care for your loved one, you must take care of yourself. Be sure to get plenty of rest and eat regularly. We encourage you to take breaks and communicate with your family.

How will staff communicate with our family?

Please provide staff with the name of one person who will serve as the family’s main contact. Be sure to check with the patient, if possible, to see who he or she wants this person to be. To protect patient privacy, information will only be given to the family contact.

Who will take care of my loved one?

Our multidisciplinary approach means that many health care professionals are involved in the care of each patient. The cardiothoracic nurse is a highly trained RN who specializes in the care of cardiac patients. Nurse practitioners are RNs with advanced training in assessment and diagnosis. They assist in directing the plan of care along with the physician.

The research nurse coordinates studies that are made possible through our collaboration with NIH. If your loved one qualifies for a research study, more details will be explained. Registered dietitians evaluate each patient and make nutritional recommendations. Case managers help to develop a plan of care and work with private insurance and federal and state agencies that help pay for hospital care to ensure certain guidelines are met. Finally, the social worker’s role is to evaluate what the patient will need following discharge and make referrals to other facilities or community agencies as necessary.

The unit staff also includes patient care technicians and secretaries. The staff completes yearly competencies to reinforce the knowledge they need to care for cardiac patients. This staff will work to provide the bedside care that the patient needs and will serve as an advocate if necessary.

What information can the nurse provide?

Our nurses provide round-the-clock care for patients and will talk with you about your loved one’s comfort and treatment. Here are some questions they can help answer:

  • Who are the doctors that are caring for my loved one? Which doctor is in charge?
  • What will happen today? Will any of these procedures cause pain? If so, has pain medicine been ordered?
  • If a nurse is not in the room, how do I call for help?
  • Can you explain to me what the doctor said?
  • What are the tubes and equipment for?
  • Is my loved one recuperating as expected?
  • What will you do if something unexpected happens and I am not here?

What should I ask the doctor or nurse practitioner?

  • How will this affect the way my loved one lives?
  • What is the treatment plan?
  • When will we see my loved one start to get better?
  • What are the risks from the therapy or treatment?
  • Is there pain? How is the pain relieved?
  • Is my loved one receiving the medicines he or she was on at home? Will he/she take these medicines when discharged?

Important Phone Numbers

Here are some phone numbers you will use during your loved one's hospital stay.

Cardiothoracic Unit (CTU)301-896-2022
Cardiology Care Unit (CCU)301-896-3994
CCU Clinical Director301-896-2321
Nursing Director301-896-2737
Chaplain301-896-3178
Customer Relations301-896-3043
Hospital Operator301-896-3100

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