What is the Progressive Care Unit (PCU)?
Patients recovering from cardiac problems require monitoring from specially trained nursing staff. Most patients are transferred from the Critical Care Unit; others may be admitted directly for monitoring and identifying vascular disease.
The PCU consists of 40 monitored beds on the second level. Patients may be transferred to a regular floor prior to discharge or may be discharged directly home from the PCU.
6:00AM to 8:30PM
- Flowers, plants and mail are encouraged. Other amenities such as television and telephone services are available for a fee
- Toilet articles, slippers, pajamas, etc., are allowed
- Diets are controlled; therefore, food should not be brought to the patient. Please feel free, however, to consult with the nurse concerning food
- Smoking is not allowed in Northwest Hospital.
Special Equipment in the PCU
Telemetry: What is it?
Patients in the PCU are connected to a portable heart monitor called a telemetry. The telemetry monitors the speed and any irregularities in the heartbeat. The telemetry unit is connected to the patient with two adhesive patches called electrodes. The heartbeat is displayed at a central monitoring station in the Critical Care Unit and can also be displayed on a screen in the PCU. A trained staff member constantly watches the central monitor and will respond immediately to any irregularities. The monitoring station can communicate with the PCU nursing staff by intercom.
Telemetries are portable so that patients can move around and the effects on the heart can be monitored. However, sometimes electrodes or connecting lead wires become loose or do not transmit properly. It is not unusual for the nursing staff to change the electrodes' position, wires and batteries. This may happen often and is nothing to be alarmed about.
Usually when a patient hears their room number on the intercom it is only asking the PCU staff to better connect a telemetry. Sometimes a patient may have to be awakened at night to adjust the telemetry to transmit a better picture. Telemetry batteries and electrodes will be changed routinely on all patients.
Telemetry Do's and Don'ts
Although a patient can move around, an activity order is still needed from a doctor before the nurse can allow a patient out of bed.
A patient should never remove the telemetry without the nurse's knowledge. If a patient has a doctor's order to shower, the nurse will remove the telemetry and call the monitoring station. The patient should notify the nurse immediately after showering so that the unit can be reapplied. Often when a patient is taken for a test on a different floor, they are attached to another type of portable heart monitor and a PCU staff member will accompany them.
The telemetry has a limited range. Patients should not walk past the elevators or on another zone because the monitoring signal may not be picked up.
What if Chest Discomfort Occurs?
The telemetry is not designed to detect chest discomfort. It is very important that a patient notify the nursing staff immediately of any discomfort.
When the clerk answers the call light, she needs to be told that the patient is having chest discomfort. The PCU staff is trained to respond promptly with the appropriate treatment.
Nurse Call Light
A call light is kept within each patient's reach. When the button is pushed, a clerk answers. The patient should tell the clerk the type of assistance that is needed. This is especially important if urgent help is needed so that the nursing staff will be informed to respond immediately. The television control is also located on the nurse call box.
Intravenous (IV) Line and Pump
Patients often have an IV line or a small IV "plug" in their arm. The IV can be used to provide nourishment, medications, or to deliver treatment in an emergency. Intravenous tubing is often connected to a pump. The pump may "beep" a signal for the nurse, but it should not alarm patients or visitors.
Oxygen is often ordered to help the patient breathe more effectively. It is usually a small tube worn under the nose.
Depending on the patient's condition, other equipment may be used to assist in monitoring. The PCU is also well equipped to handle emergencies.
If you have any questions about the Progressive Care Unit, please ask the nursing staff.
If you would like, or need, additional information or support, Patient Representatives are available Monday through Friday from 8:00AM to 8:30PM. You may contact them by calling extension 5547 or 5561.
Progressive Care Unit
5401 Old Court Road
Randallstown, MD 21133