Open Accessibility Menu

Critical Care Patient and Family Support Services

A stay in Critical Care can sometimes be stressful and overwhelming. Washington Hospital Healthcare System provides an array of support services for patients and their families to help make the experience here go as smoothly as possible. The following services and resources are available to help make you comfortable during your visit or stay, or to meet a special need:

Critical Care Journal

Upon admission to Critical Care, family members can be provided with a journal to write in. For family members, having a patient in Critical Care can be a highly stressful experience. Studies have shown that writing in a daily journal at the bedside can relieve some anxiety and stress that families feel. When returning home, the journals enable patients to make sense of their Critical Care experience. A Critical Care journal can be a place where family members:

  • Keep a timeline of events for the patient
  • Express feelings and emotions
  • Document their presence, commitment and supportive role
  • Communicate information for other family members to read

At discharge, the patient and/or family take the journal home.

Spiritual Care Program

Washington Hospital understands that meeting the emotional and spiritual needs of our patients is important for the healing process. We recognize that our patients and their families come from diverse backgrounds, religions and faiths. Washington Hospital has interfaith chaplains available to provide compassionate support to meet your needs.

Our interfaith spiritual care staff can provide:

  • A caring presence and a listening ear for patients and families
  • Spiritual or religious support for all faith traditions and religious beliefs
  • Assistance in contacting your personal clergy or someone from your faith tradition
  • Religious sacraments and rituals such as communion, sacrament of the sick, confession and blessing
  • Bibles or other spiritual reading materials
  • Support with decisions associated with the end of life and related grief

To request a chaplain or to contact the Spiritual Care Program, please call 510.818.6569, or tell the bedside nurse you want spiritual support.
After hours, call the Hospital operator.

Palliative Care

The goals of palliative care are to alleviate physical, emotional, and spiritual suffering and provide patients with the best quality of life. The patient's multidisciplinary support team may include doctors, nurses, social workers, therapists, and counselors who work to relieve symptoms like pain, anxiety, shortness of breath, nausea and vomiting.

Meditation Room

The Hospital has two nondenominational meditation rooms available to everyone, open 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The meditation rooms offer a quiet space for reflection, prayer books from many faith traditions, and prayer rugs and kneeling stools. One is located on the first floor of the Main Hospital, across the hall from the surgery waiting room. The second medication room is located on the first floor of the Morris Hyman Critical Care Pavilion.

Case Management and Social Work Services

Dealing with an illness can be a very difficult time for patients and their loved ones. At Washington Hospital, experienced and sensitive social workers and case managers are available to assist patients and their families cope with the many psychological and social problems that may arise when facing an illness, hospitalization and medical treatment.

Our social workers act as patient advocates by serving as counselors, helping to find resources and solving problems. When medically necessary, case managers also help arrange alternate levels of care for patients after leaving the Hospital, which may include rehabilitation facilities, skilled nursing facilities, hospice, or board and care homes. Any concerns related to the psychological, practical or social well-being of each patient or their loved ones may be discussed openly with our social workers.

Our social workers and case managers offer a wide range of services, including:

  • Discharge planning for patients after they leave the Hospital
  • Answering questions related to health insurance, Medi-Cal, Medicare, social security and state disability
  • Case coordination to help you decide on the best arrangements for you when you leave the Hospital
  • Psychosocial evaluations and treatment planning
  • Crisis intervention
  • Financial assessment and reporting
  • Advance directive assistance
  • Community resources
  • Helping arrange home health care and home hospice
  • Setting up durable medical equipment


It is important that you stay rested and healthy for your loved one. Take breaks, drink fluids, eat nutritional foods, and get exercise and rest.

Helpful link: Taking Care of YOU: Self-Care for Family Caregivers

Other Members of Critical Care Staff:

Non-intensivist consulting physicians: Depending on the patient’s specific illness, other subspecialist physicians may be consulted by the intensivist to help manage the patient.

Respiratory therapists manage the ventilator (breathing machine) and provide breathing treatments to patients with breathing problems.

Dietitians evaluate the patient’s specific nutritional needs and make feeding recommendations to the intensivist.

Physical therapists start the rehabilitation process in Critical Care to minimize loss of strength and mobility. Occupational therapists assist the patient to be able to engage in the activities of daily living.

Speech therapists help patients who have trouble with speech or swallowing. These functions are often impaired during critical illness. Speech therapists will help us determine what foods, if any, the patient can safely swallow.

Social workers help provide patients and families with psychosocial support needed to cope with illness. They help provide patient education and counseling, and make referrals to other services.

Case managers help determine the patient’s needs prior to discharge and help coordinate the proper arrangements for patients as they prepare to leave the Hospital.

Spiritual care specialists provide families with emotional and spiritual support during times of critical illness. They offer prayer, religious rituals or sacraments, and support with end-of-life issues.

Palliative care provides support and guides families of patients who are extremely ill in making difficult medical decisions.

Other Services:

  • Concierge Services – During your stay with us, we want you to be as comfortable as possible. You are invited to use our free concierge services. They can provide information on everything from where to go to pre-register to where local restaurants and hotels are located. Hours: Monday to Friday 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
  • Patient Representative – Our patient representative can act as a liaison between the patient, his or her family, and the Hospital, communicating questions and concerns to the appropriate staff members, and explaining the Hospital’s policies and procedures. Phone: 510.818.7328.
  • Valet Parking – Free valet parking is available, located right outside the Main Hospital entrance. Hours: Monday to Friday 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.; Saturday and Sunday 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
  • Cafeteria – Breakfast: 7 to 10 a.m.; Lunch: 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.; Dinner: 5 to 7 p.m.
  • Vending Machines – Located in the surgery waiting room and on the first floor of the Main Hospital.
  • Gift Shop – Located in the Main Hospital lobby. Hours: Monday to Friday 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.; Saturday and Sunday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
  • ATM – Located off the Main Hospital lobby, across from the cashier’s office.

Common Medical Terms:

Links to Other Useful Websites:

Non-English Speaking Resources:

Related Locations