Originally published in the Standard-Freeholder on Saturday, October 15.
By Jeanette Despatie
The Critical Care Unit (also
known as the CCU, or an Intensive Care Unit) at Cornwall Community Hospital
(CCH) is home to a team of specially trained healthcare professionals who provide
24-hour care to patients who have life-threatening injuries and illnesses. This
includes administering specialized treatments and using machines to help people
recover, breathe, and monitor vital signs.
The total population served by
our hospital’s CCU is approximately 110,000 people from throughout the City of
Cornwall, Akwesasne and the United Counties of Stormont, Dundas and Glengarry.
There are twelve private beds in our
CCU, and it is not uncommon for most (or all) of these beds to be occupied by
patients at any given point. On average, over 550 patients are treated every
year in the CCU.
“As our population ages, many of the patients we see in our
CCU present with very complex interactions between various health conditions
and acute illnesses. But modern medicine has given us the opportunity to turn
many illnesses that were previously fatal into chronic conditions, and the
specialized service we can provide in our CCU can deliver comprehensive care to
help people recover from these complex health issues,” explains Dr. Renée
Givari, intensivist and Chief of Medicine at CCH.
Our CCU has a group of five
dedicated intensivists (specially trained physicians who provide intensive care to
critically ill patients), including Dr. Givari, who practise within a “closed”
model of critical care, which is unique to Eastern Ontario outside of the City
In a closed CCU, only an
intensivist admits patients to the unit, where these patients are then cared
for by an intensivist-led team. This allows for better coordination of critical
care services, a more cohesive treatment strategy with focused leadership, and
smaller teams dedicated to each patient; ultimately resulting in better patient-centred
care and outcomes.
“Because of this specialist closed model of care, we
practise at the same standards and provide the same caliber of care you would
receive from an Intensive Care Unit in any big city like Ottawa or Toronto,”
says Dr. Paul Westergaard, intensivist and Medical Director of the Critical
Care Unit at CCH. “This is also one of the key reasons why our
intensivists really enjoy their experience at CCH. Whereas some hospitals
struggle with intensivist coverage, we have been fortunate to attract and
retain them for many years in Cornwall.”
Intensivists like Dr. Givari and Dr.
Westergaard rely on a multidisciplinary team of healthcare professionals to
work by their side, which includes a diverse group of nurses, physiotherapists,
dietitians, pharmacists, and respiratory therapists who manage patients on
ventilators and assess patients' blood-oxygen level.
“Respiratory therapists are an integral part
of a well functioning CCU, and we are so lucky to have such a great number of
highly skilled respiratory therapists at CCH, who we can rely on when our
patients require assistance with their shortness of breath or inability to
breathe,” says Dr. Givari. “They are our eyes and ears around the hospital when
it comes to acutely ill patients, and they are the ones managing non-invasive
and invasive ventilation. I couldn’t imagine running a CCU without their
Respiratory therapists are onsite
at CCH 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. They work with both critical and
non-critical patients and provide advice on respiratory care and teach people
how to use respiratory aids or other treatments. Our respiratory
therapists are also trained in neonatal resuscitation, in the event there are
any breathing complications with newborn babies during labour and delivery and
up to the age of 28 days.
This month we celebrate both Canadian
Intensive Care Week and Respiratory Therapy Week. Please join me in thanking
both our critical care and respiratory teams for their hard work, dedication,
and service to our community. We never know when you might find yourself needing
their help, but I do know we would be in good hands.
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Patient and Family Advisory Committee
Cornwall Community Hospital is located on the traditional lands of the Akwesasne Mohawks and their ancestors. We are forever grateful to those who had been on these lands before us and through their stewardship and connection to the land, have made it what it is now. Read our full Land Acknowledgement here.
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