Open Accessibility Menu

Washington Hospital's Intensivist Team Cares for the Most Critically Ill Patients

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 volunteers.

“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 intensivist.

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.”