Critical Care

Critical care is a crucial part of intensive care for many conditions. Specially trained doctors called intensivists (physicians who care for critically ill patients) at Henry Ford Health System work closely with other specialists to provide the highest levels of care for patients hospitalized with severe health challenges.

Patients in the intensive care unit (ICU) do best when an intensivist directs their care. When your loved one is in the ICU, they may be receiving assistance from machines that support their vital functions. These complex, lifesaving interventions are best managed by an intensivist.

People who live with chronic lung disease or pulmonary hypertension may require ICU care later in life. We offer seamless care, whether as an inpatient (in the hospital) or outpatient (returning home after treatment).

Trusted critical care at Henry Ford

Doctors and hospitals send patients to Henry Ford’s ICU from ICUs all over Michigan. We care for the sickest patients in the area. We also serve as a resource for hospitals throughout the state. Our critical care includes:

  • Specialization in lung care: Our teams specialize in caring for people with respiratory failure. These patients can’t breathe on their own. They need life support to stay alive. We also have an ICU dedicated to the care of pulmonary hypertension patients. Our specially trained nurses are experts in managing the complex needs of these patients.
  • Team approach: A team of medical experts meets with each ICU patient and their family every day. They check your progress and update your care management plan. In addition to specialty physicians, the team includes:
    • Registered nurses, nurse practitioners and physician assistants
    • Pharmacists
    • Respiratory therapists and physical therapists
    • Dietitians
  • Support for families: In all we do, we work to include the patient’s family in our care. We consult with you and keep you informed about your loved one’s progress and status. This aspect of care is so important that we’ve developed a novel program called CLEAR Conversations. We use it to train current and new physicians on how best to support families during this very difficult time.
  • Training center: Henry Ford is the one hospital in Michigan to offer stand-alone training for new doctors in critical care medicine. This allows us to train physicians from a wide variety of backgrounds, including internal medicine, emergency medicine, pulmonary medicine, nephrology (kidney-related medicine) and infectious disease. Actively teaching physicians from such diverse backgrounds means we are always up-to-date on the latest developments in critical care. Healthcare professionals can learn more about Henry Ford’s critical care medicine fellowship.

Medical intensive care at Henry Ford

At Henry Ford, patients receive compassionate, experienced care in a specialized, well-equipped medical setting. You’ll benefit from:

  • Largest unit in Michigan: The ICU at Henry Ford Hospital is the largest in Michigan, with 68 beds.
  • Board-certified physicians: Our physicians, who are board-certified in critical care medicine, will care for you. Called medical intensivists, these specialty critical care physicians treat the most serious illnesses and life-threatening medical conditions, such as sepsis (a serious blood infection).
  • Close attention: One or two nurses will care for you throughout your stay in the ICU. These nurses monitor your care and can quickly alert the team to any changes.
  • High-tech monitoring: A special electronic patient monitoring system provides minute-to-minute monitoring of vital stats for every ICU patient at Henry Ford Hospital.
  • Life support for patients awaiting transplant: We have successfully used ECMO (extracorporeal membrane oxygenation) as life support for people who whose lungs are so severely damaged that they have no other options. Some of these people will go on to receive a lung transplant. ECMO is a machine that helps to circulate the blood when your body isn’t strong enough to do it. Learn more about lung transplant.

ICU patient safety

Your care and safety is our highest priority. Our ICU teams work tirelessly to ensure it. One of our patient safety goals is to eliminate hospital-acquired infections, such as catheter-related bloodstream infections or ventilator-associated pneumonia.

We track our safety data and share it transparently. We are always striving to improve. Our strict adherence to patient safety processes has helped us achieve many goals, including:

  • Catheter-related bloodstream infections have been virtually eliminated
  • Catheter-related urinary infection rates were cut in half in 2017 compared to 2016, after instituting care processes specifically designed to reduce this type of hospital-acquired infection
  • Mortality rates at Henry Ford Hospital declined 1.3 percent in 2017 — down from 3.03 percent in 2004, a significant reduction

Learn more about critical care

If your loved one is receiving critical care, we understand that you may have many questions. Your healthcare team can explain your loved one’s condition and answer any questions.

Sometimes, questions come up at other times — even long after you have left the hospital. You will find several valuable resources at sites like MyICUCare.org. These may be especially useful:

  • During ICU care: The booklet Understanding Your ICU Stay can answer questions about your loved one’s appearance, experience and what to expect.
  • Before discharge from the ICU: When your loved one is being discharged from the ICU, you might like to learn more about what to expect.
  • After ICU care: Find more patient and family resources and learn how to THRIVE after the ICU. The THRIVE initiative helps patients who survived ICU care form social networks to support each other. Learn more about THRIVE.
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