Intensivist Program at Washington Hospital
A surgeon performs surgeries. A pediatrician treats children. A cardiologist
cares for people with heart disease. But what does an "intensivist" do?
"Intensivists are physicians who direct and provide medical care in
a hospital's intensive care unit (ICU), working with the attending
physician of record and other staff such as critical care nurses, pharmacists,
respiratory therapists, nutritionists, rehabilitation services, social
workers, case managers and especially spiritual care - as well as physician
specialists," explains Dr. Carmencita Agcaoili, Medical Director
of the Intensivist Program at Washington Hospital.
"An intensivist has completed a primary residency and board certification
in a specialty such as surgery, internal medicine, anesthesiology or pediatrics
and an additional two- to three-year fellowship and certification in critical
care medicine," she adds.
Launched in January 2008, the Intensivist Program at Washington Hospital
currently has an intensivist available in the ICU every day from 7 a.m.
to 7 p.m., as well as some nights. On-call intensivist coverage is provided
24/7, and the hospital plans to expand the program further to include
additional intensivists on site around the clock.
”Intensivists” Improve Quality of Care in the ICU
Washington Hospital's Intensivist Program follows the evidence-based
guidelines for care established by the Society of Critical Care Medicine
(SCCM). The SCCM critical care model calls for a multidisciplinary team
approach that has a well-documented record of:
- Improving patient survival rates and quality care.
- Decreasing procedure complications.
- Promoting medication safety.
Patients in the ICU generally have life-threatening illnesses or conditions
such as cardiac arrest, respiratory failure, strokes, severe trauma or
resistant infections," Dr. Agcaoili notes. "Because of their
unstable conditions, these patients must be monitored much more closely
than patients in regular hospital wards. Studies have shown that having
an intensivist act as the team leader in providing critical care definitely
improves the quality of care for these patients."
Board certified in all three specialties - internal medicine, pulmonary
medicine and critical care - Dr. Agcaoili moved to Fremont in 1991 and
began her long association with Washington Hospital. "This is my
community, and it is important to me to be actively involved in providing
the best possible care for people in our community," she says. "I
get a real sense of fulfillment in caring for patients who are fragile
and are at a crucial point in their lives."
In addition to Dr. Agcaoili, the Intensivist Program includes Dr. Vineet
Kapur, who is board certified in both internal medicine and critical care.
"We are expanding our Family Assistance Program to help provide families
with more information and to train the ICU staff in how to care for the
needs of family members," she adds. "We also offer classes for
doctors and other staff in the Fundamentals of Critical Care. The classes
have been very well received, and physicians have embraced the idea of
the multidisciplinary ICU team. It truly is a team effort."
The ultimate goal of the Intensivist Program at Washington Hospital is
embodied in the SCCM's "Right Care, Right NowTM" campaign.
"The objective is to provide the right care at exactly the right
moment in time to achieve the best possible patient outcome," Dr.
Agcaoili explains. "The intensivist-led model for critical care has
become the “gold standard.” It is focused on patient safety.
It improves patient outcomes. It reflects the patient-first ethic of Washington
Hospital. It's the right thing to do for our patients."
For more information about critical care medicine and the role of intensivists
in the ICU, visit the SCCM website at