If you are like the majority of Americans, at one time or another you will
face a life threatening illness, disease or accident — or you will
know someone who has. Once at a hospital, you are likely to be treated
by a team of critical care specialists.
Washington Hospital’s team of critical care specialists, known as
intensivists, are at work 24 hours a day, seven days a week to provide
the best care possible for the most critically ill patients who come through
the hospital’s doors.
“The goal of our critical care team is to provide the right care
right now for the best possible patient outcome,” said Dr. Carmencita
Agcaoili, a critical care pulmonologist and medical director of the Intensivist
Program and Critical Care Units at Washington Hospital.
“These patients are facing life-threatening illnesses and injuries
so they need to be carefully monitored and treated as situations arise,”
Dr. Agcaoili explained. “That requires a multidisciplinary team
of specially trained professionals who are ready to jump in and provide
the exact care the patient needs at any given moment.”
Washington Hospital is on the leading edge of critical care medicine with
its innovative Intensivist Program. With nine board certified intensivist
physicians on staff, the hospital is one of the few hospitals in the Bay
Area with an intensivist available 24 hours a day. This program is being
honored by the hospital this month during national Critical Care Awareness
Month with awards and an ongoing educational program which will include
experts in the field.
Intensivists are specially trained physicians who direct and provide medical
care for patients in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU). They are board-certified
in critical care medicine and in a primary specialty such as internal
medicine, surgery, neurology, pulmonary disease, infectious disease, cardiovascular
disease, anesthesiology or pediatrics.
Three of the team’s physicians are also board-certified in neurocritical
care helping take care of devastating brain injuries. “The injuries
could include a devastating brain hemorrhage due to an aneurysm, a brain
tumor, a major head trauma or spinal cord injury from an accident, or
any other illness or injury that affects the brain,” Dr. Agcaoili said.
The intensivists work with the attending physicians and other members of
the critical care team including critical care nurses, pharmacists, respiratory
therapists, nutritionists, rehabilitation services, social workers, case
managers and physician specialists, as well as spiritual care staff and
“The team works together to provide the very best care for the patient
and to support the patient’s family,” Dr. Agcaoili added.
The number of patients requiring critical care has been steadily increasing
due to referrals from other area hospitals. Dr. Agcaoili attributes this
to the team’s reputation and to the fact the hospital provides intensivist
care 24 hours a day.
Washington Hospital’s multidisciplinary approach has been proven
to save lives. A 2010 study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine
found that the death rate among critically ill/injured patients was lowest
at hospitals that use this type of multidisciplinary team led by a trained
Washington Hospital is focused on providing state-of-the-art medical care,
including critical care, Dr. Agcaoili said. “From the Intensivist
Program to the new Morris Hyman Critical Care Pavillion, and with our
affiliation with UCSF Medical Center, Washington Hospital is well-positioned
to provide the best critical care medicine possible for our community.”