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Intensive and Critical Care

When you or a loved one needs intensive care in the hospital, quality care is close to home. At Lehigh Valley Health Network, we provide the highest level and most comfortable care so you or your loved one can make the best recovery possible.

Our experienced intensive care teams use state-of-the-art technology and continually conduct research to ensure treatments and care methods are the best. We recognize loved ones are integral members of the care team and depend on you to help us provide care. We provide regular updates on your or your loved one’s condition, plan of treatment and recovery.

What sets us apart

  • Technology Caregivers use a specialized program to track your condition. This technology provides second-to-second data on everything from breathing and heart rates to laboratory results.
  • Around-the-clock care – Specially educated physicians (called intensivists), who work closely with critical care nurses, are at your bedside – even at night – to monitor your condition. Throughout the night, a tele-intensivist in a high-tech, off-site control room uses high-resolution video, audio and electronic charting to monitor patients. This provides an extra set of eyes to help detect problems sooner and provide faster treatment.
  • Magnet™ nurses Your nurses stand out among the best in the nation. They are Magnet nurses, as designated twice by the American Nurses Credentialing Center – the highest honor an organization can receive for quality nursing care. This means your care is in the hands of nurses who earn certifications in critical care, seek opportunities to discover better ways to care for patients and more.
  • Expertise Members of the care team include hospitalists and critical care physicians (called intensivists) who look after patients 24/7. For patients who are children, these hospitalists and intensivists are pediatricians who specialize in the care of children in the hospital. These caregivers are available to answer questions anytime of day or to consult with your or your loved one's regular doctor.
  • Family-centered care You and other loved ones are considered members of the care team. You can be with your loved one at any hour of the day and may use a family overnight room. You also have access to community support programs for children and families coping with illnesses.

Around-the-clock intensive care

Telemedicine – the use of technology, video conferencing and remote monitoring to connect doctors and patients – has lifesaving benefits. People with the most serious injuries or illnesses receive care in our intensive care units (ICUs) at  Lehigh Valley Hospital–Cedar Crest in Allentown, Pa., and Lehigh Valley Hospital–Muhlenberg in Bethlehem, Pa. Filled with state-of-the-art equipment, our ICUs are staffed by critical care nurses and specially educated physicians called intensivists.

Our ICU patients also are monitored using telemedicine from a high-tech, off-site location, where additional critical care intensivists and nurses monitor ICU patients throughout the night, assuring the highest level of care around the clock. Our advanced ICU (AICU) employs high-resolution audio/visual systems that allow our intensivists to see the patient and talk with other doctors, nurses and families in the patient's room. Each evening, one tele-intensivist and three critical care nursing colleagues monitor more than 140 patients from the AICU and respond whenever intervention is necessary, not waiting until a crisis has been discovered.

A research study conducted by a team at Lehigh Valley Health Network shows this use of telemedicine lowers death in critically ill patients by nearly 30 percent and reduces the use of mechanical ventilation. The study results were published in the Archives of Internal Medicine. Lehigh Valley Health Network has one of the industry’s most advanced electronic charting systems, which automatically captures and transmits data from bedside monitors and equipment to the AICU, miles away. Customizable “events” inform our intensivists about serious changes in the patient’s condition so they can act immediately to address the problem. The electronic charting system also eliminates much of the bedside paperwork, freeing caregivers to spend more time with patients.

Tele-intensivists do not replace bedside care, because we continue to have the same number of physicians and critical care nurses at the bedside. Instead, it provides an added and higher layer of care to help detect problems earlier and provide faster treatment. This, in turn, reduces complications, shortens hospital stays and saves lives.

Severe conditions and complex surgeries

If you or a loved one has a serious illness or a complicated surgery, you likely will receive care in our medical and surgical intensive care units (MICU/SICU). The units are located in the Kasych Family Pavilion at Lehigh Valley Hospital–Cedar Crest and feature private patient rooms for a quieter, more peaceful environment.

We treat patients with conditions related to lung, kidney, liver and gastrointestinal problems, cancer, blood diseases and blood infections.

A team of experts specially educated in intensive care works together to ensure you have the best possible outcomes. They conduct high-level research and follow the most strigent infection control policies. Your nurse will care for you, or at most one other patient, to ensure your condition is closely monitored.

Your care team – including doctors, nurses, respiratory therapists, physical therapists and others – also visits you each day to discuss your conditions and progress. This provides an opportunity for you or your loved ones to ask questions or express concerns. Your family can visit you at any time. Please talk to a nurse about any specific guidelines.

Traumatic injuries

Traumatic injuries can result from incidents such as car accidents and falls. If this kind of injury happens to you or a loved one, you will receive expert care close to home in our trauma-neuro intensive care unit (TNICU) at Lehigh Valley Hospital–Cedar Crest in Allentown, Pa. First, you may be treated in our Level I Trauma Center at Lehigh Valley Hospital–Cedar Crest, which has 24-hour neurosurgery (also known as neurological surgery) coverage, staffed by a team of specially educated caregivers to provide rapid response to even the most severe cases of traumatic brain injury.

You or your loved one will be treated by a team of general surgeons, trauma surgeons, neurosurgeons (also known as neurological surgeons), neuro-intensivists and intensivists (physicians who specialize in the care and treatment of critically ill and injured patients). They focus treatment on maximizing survival and future quality of life, and they use state-of-the-art technology to aggressively monitor and treat neurological conditions.

Your loved one’s caregivers will visit you each day to discuss his conditions and progress. This provides an opportunity for you to ask questions or express concerns. Your family can visit you anytime. Please talk to a nurse about any specific guidelines.

Strokes, brain tumors, aneurysms or seizures

Thanks to the care provided in the neuroscience intensive care unit (NSICU) at Lehigh Valley Hospital–Cedar Crest, patients with severe neurological conditions have a good chance of surviving after suffering severe strokes or traumatic brain injuries. We have experience caring for patients with brain tumors, neurodegenerative diseases and spine injuries, as well as patients recovering from spine surgeries and kidney and pancreas transplants.

For your loved one, our NSICU team focuses on saving as much of his or her brain function as possible. Here, you can feel confident that your loved one is in the hands of highly qualified and experienced staff with the best state-of-the art technology and equipment available.

Your loved one will be cared for in one of 14 private rooms. Our team of physicians and nurses has extensive education and experience in neurology and critical care – setting us apart from other hospitals. Physicians and nurses are assisted by specialists including neurosurgeons, epileptologists (neurosurgeons who specialize in epilepsy) and surgical neuroradiologists. They, along with other members of your care team (dietitians, physical therapists and case managers) will visit you each day to discuss your loved one’s conditions and progress. This provides an opportunity for you or your loved ones to ask questions or express concerns.

You can visit your loved one anytime. We understand the stress patients and their families experience when someone has a critical illness. You and your family are viewed as a vital member of your loved one’s care team.

Serious heart conditions

The care patients receive for serious heart conditions is one reason Lehigh Valley Health Network is recognized as a national leader for heart care. This high-level care is part of our Heart and Vascular Center – the third-largest heart program in Pennsylvania. We provide inpatient intensive heart care at Lehigh Valley Hospital–Cedar Crest in Allentown, Pa., and Lehigh Valley Hospital–Muhlenberg in Bethlehem, Pa. All rooms are private and designed for patients who have had a heart procedure like angioplasty, have had heart surgery like bypass surgery or suffer from a serious heart condition.

Our team of doctors includes specialists in the diagnosis and treatment of blocked arteries, congestive heart failure, an irregular heartbeat and valve disease. Our team of nurses has completed a six-month critical care course to learn the latest technology and techniques to care for you.

Our entire care team, including doctors, nurses, case managers, dietitians, respiratory, occupational and physical therapists, and others, visit you each day to review your condition and treatments as a group. At this time, they are available to answer your questions, as well as those of your loved ones. Also know that your family can visit you anytime – but please talk with a nurse about any specific guidelines.

We are one of only a few hospitals nationwide using body-cooling technology called induced hypothermia. It is used when a serious heart attack stops the heart from sending oxygen to the brain. It prevents brain damage by lowering the body’s core temperature to 91 degrees, slowing metabolism and preventing dangerous swelling.

Critical care for children

Your child may need care in our pediatric intensive care unit (PICU) if he or she has complex medical conditions or has suffered a trauma or burns. It is on the only unit of its kind in the region and is part of the Children's Hospital at Lehigh Valley Hospital. In the PICU, located at Lehigh Valley Hospital–Cedar Crest in Allentown, Pa., we provide pediatric intensive care close to home.

Full-time pediatricians who specialize in the care of children in the hospital (called hospitalists) and critical care physicians (called intensivists) care for children 24 hours a day, seven days a week in the PICU. They collaborate with specialists including pediatric surgeons, trauma surgeons, pediatric surgeons, pediatric hematologists/oncologists and pediatric cardiologists and work with PICU nurses who are specially educated in critical care. Our physicians are available to answer questions anytime of day or consult with your child’s regular doctor.

We care for children with:

  • Life-threatening illnesses such as severe infections, breathing problems, ingestions and seizures
  • Severe injuries that may be first cared for in our Level I Trauma Center or Regional Burn Center
  • Complex medical problems, including those dependent on ventilators and other technical devices
  • Children in hospice care who receive their primary care at home and who occasionally require hospital care to relieve pain or adjust complex medical care
  • Acute illnesses in other hospitals that need a higher level of resources; we respond to urgent requests for help in managing emergency situations from all hospitals in the region. 

Our staff understands the unique medical and personal needs of severely ill and injured children, from very small infants to teenagers. We include parents and family as part of the care team, provide overnight rooms for families, and offer a child-life program and referrals to community support programs.

Your child’s care team visits you each day to discuss your child’s conditions and progress. This provides an opportunity for you to ask questions or express concerns. A child-life specialist, educated in psychology, offers your child emotional support. The child-life specialist uses various playful techniques to help your child feel comfortable and relax while receiving treatments, in addition to providing education to your and your loved ones.

Our goal is to keep children out of the hospital if they are dependent on ventilators and other technical devices. When they need to be admitted to the hospital, they will be cared for by knowledgeable staff using the latest technology.

Critical care for newborns

Our neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) colleagues care for babies born prematurely or with serious illnesses as part of the Children's Hospital at Lehigh Valley Hospital. We are the area's most experienced NICU, located at Lehigh Valley Hospital–Cedar Crest in Allentown, Pa. Hospitals throughout the region turn to our Level III NICU (the highest level) to care for their premature or sick newborns when they are in need of high-level, expert neonatal care.

Your baby will be cared for by a special care team that includes eight full-time board-certified neonatologists (doctors who specialize in the care of sick newborns) and six certified neonatal nurse practitioners (NNP). One neonatologist and one NNP remain in the NICU at all times to immediately address your baby’s needs and respond to your concerns. Your baby’s health care team also includes a respiratory therapist, nutritionist, pediatric pharmacist, physical therapist, feeding specialist, social worker and pediatric specialists such as pediatric surgeons, pediatric cardiologists and pediatric neurologists.

Your baby’s NICU team provides lifesaving technologies and uses evidence-based treatments. We use the most advanced neonatal respirators to help babies breathe when they are too small or too sick to breathe on their own. The most up-to-date developmental methods are used to minimize stress, provide comfort and promote healing so your baby can concentrate all of his or her energy on growing with a minimal amount of pain and stress.

Our NICU also works closely with maternal fetal medicine specialists to provide care when needed for babies born after a high-risk pregnancy.

Your baby's care team also includes you. The NICU embraces the family-centered care philosophy, which means you as the parent are an integral part of your baby’s health care team. While in the NICU, babies do better when parents and other family members are involved in their care.

Family involvement is encouraged 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Parents are not considered “visitors.” NICU staff members are sensitive to your needs and are committed to serving your entire family. NICU staff members receive great satisfaction hearing parents refer to them as “part of the family.” After your baby's discharge, our NICU team will follow up with you to see how you are doing. We want you to feel confident about your care, and we want to hear your concerns.

Hospitals throughout the region turn to us to care for their premature and sick newborns who need high-level expert care. Your baby’s team of neonatologists and NNPs work to get your baby home with your family as soon as possible.

Our NICU ranks nationally in positive outcomes for very high-risk newborns. We have a very low infection rate and rank in the 90th percentile for parent satisfaction.

The NICU team is involved in advanced clinical research and conducts an outpatient NICU follow-up program to improve our care. The team also is involved in quality improvement projects to increase safety and decrease the risks associated with premature or sick newborns.