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A Patient's Guide to Heart Surgery: A Guide for Visitors

CT Unit wall with monitoring devices.

Visiting the Patient in the CT Unit

Patients are normally transferred from the ICU to the CT Unit one day after surgery, but may stay longer depending on his or her recovery. The surgical team will determine the best time for transfer, and will explain the reasons for any delay. A longer stay in ICU is often only a precautionary measure.

As soon as the patient is transferred to the CT Unit and the nurses have taken vital signs and applied telemetry monitors to keep track of the patient's heart rhythm, you may rejoin your loved one.

While in the CT Unit, the patient will be evaluated and his or her discharge schedule will be determined. If the patient had cardiac surgery, the cardiologist, along with the surgeon, will monitor the patient and determine the day of discharge. If the patient had thoracic surgery, the thoracic surgeon will determine the day of discharge.

Guidelines for Visitors in the CT Unit

Just like when you visited the ICU, we ask that you wash your hands in the public restroom before and after visiting your loved one in the CT Unit. We also ask that only two visitors stay with the patient in the room at one time.

Because there may be other patients in the room or area, we ask that you respect their privacy and need for rest and recovery. Cameras and video recorders are not permitted. Please turn off your cellular phones when visiting with the patient. Children are permitted to visit in the CT Unit, and food and drinks are allowed. We welcome your bringing flowers and greeting cards.

To help your loved one recover faster, enourage him/her to use the incentive spirometer and other breathing aids, and to use a pillow to lessen the pain during breathing and coughing exercises. Encourage your loved one to do some walking if possible, but also to rest and ask for pain medication when needed. Remind the patient not to ever hesitate to ask a question or voice a concern.

Patient Meals

Please talk with the nurse or dietitian before bringing outside food for the patient. Patients recovering from surgery may require a special diet and sometimes are required not to eat before tests are taken. During breakfast each day, patients will be given a menu to choose their meals for the next day. On this menu, they also can indicate any special food preferences or requests.

While Your Loved One is in the Hospital

While we encourage you to visit and give support to your loved one at the hospital, it is also important that you do not neglect your own needs. Make sure that you eat properly, get plenty of rest, and attend to necessary chores. If you have any questions or concerns about your loved one, please let us know.

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