Intensive care unit (ICU) in Austin and Central Texas

Our ICUs provide stabilizing care following a serious illness or injury. These state-of-the-art ICUs feature:

  • Critical care beds, including isolation rooms where patients can receive advanced treatment
  • Dedicated waiting rooms
  • Family areas to accommodate visitors
  • The latest monitoring equipment and technology
For more information about our intensive care services, call the St. David’s Help Center at (888) 868-2104.

After emergency or advanced surgery, you may be moved to the ICU for further treatment. Here, doctors, critical care nurses and other skilled medical professionals will closely monitor you. When your health improves, you may be moved to an intermediate care unit or telemetry unit.

Your intensive care team

If you are admitted to the ICU, you will work with a multidisciplinary team. These professionals will help you recover as fully and quickly as possible. Our ICU teams include:

  • Intensivists: Intensivists are doctors who specialize in critical care.
  • Registered nurses (RNs): RNs are specially trained in critical care. They work alongside supervising nurses in the ICU.
  • Patient care technicians (PCT): These specialists help patients with activities of daily living, such as repositioning, eating and bathing.
  • Physical and occupational therapists: Physical and occupational therapy may be used after surgery to regain mobility and function.
  • Cardiac rehabilitation therapists: Patients in the ICU may complete cardiac rehabilitation following heart surgery. This therapy focuses on strength training and education about cardiac health.
  • Speech therapists: These therapists help patients regain skills, such as speech and swallowing, after surgery.
  • Respiratory therapists (RTs): RTs manage respiratory equipment, such as ventilators, and administer breathing treatments.
  • Social workers and case managers: Social workers and case managers coordinate your transition from hospital to home or other care facilities. They can also answer questions about insurance, financial assistance programs and other resources.

Equipment in our ICU

We use a variety of equipment to stabilize and monitor patients in the ICU. Because many people wake up in the ICU after surgery, knowing what to expect can help you gain confidence about the treatment process and facilitate recovery. Some of the tools we use for this include:

  • Breathing tubes (endotracheal tubes)—During surgery, a breathing tube may be inserted through your mouth and into your windpipe (trachea). The tube is then connected to a ventilator—a machine that will breathe for you during surgery and, if needed, in the ICU.
  • Oxygen—After the breathing tube is removed, you may be given supplemental oxygen through a mask or small tubes in your nostrils.
  • Pulse oximeters—A pulse oximeter, usually kept on one of your fingers, is connected to a heart monitor. It continuously reads your blood oxygen level.
  • Heart monitors—This device measures your heart’s rate and rhythm. Electrodes are placed on your chest with an adhesive and attached to wires connected to the heart monitor.
  • Stomach tubes (nasogastric tubes)—A stomach tube may be used to prevent the buildup of air and fluid in your stomach. The tube is inserted through the nose, down the esophagus and into the stomach.
  • Chest drainage tubes—Tubes may be placed near a chest incision to remove fluid, blood and air after surgery.
  • Arterial lines—An arterial line may be placed in an artery during surgery. It monitors blood pressure and can be used to obtain blood samples.
  • Intravenous lines (IVs)—IVs are inserted into your hands and/or arms. Nurses use these lines to administer fluids and medications as needed.
  • Catheters—Two types of catheters are used in the ICU. A Swan-Ganz catheter is a special IV inserted during surgery. It is used to measure blood flow and pressure in your heart and to administer fluids. A bladder catheter, or Foley catheter, is inserted into the bladder to collect and measure urine.
  • Pacemaker wires—During heart surgery, your doctor may attach thin pacemaker wires. These wires can connect to a temporary pacemaker to help regulate your heartbeat.