Skip to content. | Skip to navigation

Personal tools

Home > Patient Education Repository > 01070--How Can Family and Friends Help After Heart Surgery

patient education : 01070--How Can Family and Friends Help After Heart Surgery

Answers to questions about what heart surgery will be like and information on ways to help and support your loved one before and after surgery

Handout File:

PDF document icon PE01070_eng_HowCanFamilyHelp.pdf — PDF document, 150 KB (153600 bytes)
  1. document content:

    HOW CAN FAMILY AND FRIENDS HELP AFTER HEART SURGERY

    Having a family member or friend going through heart surgery can be overwhelming and very emotional for the patient, as well as for family and friends. Talking together about your feelings, concerns and / or fears will help. The following information may help answer many of your questions about what the surgery will be like. This information will also show you ways to help and support your loved one before and after surgery.

    • Please join your loved one at their doctor’s appointments or during hospital rounds and feel free to ask any questions you might have. You may want to write your questions down beforehand.
    • The total time in the operating room may be as much as 4 to 6 hours. The surgeon will give you a better estimate of the actual time. If you choose to wait at the hospital, please bring something to stay occupied until your loved one’s surgery is over. We can give you local information.  You can wait in the Family Lounge, which is located on the 4th floor near 4 West and the west elevators; in the main lobby; or the cafeteria. You can leave and come back when the surgery is over. Give the surgical staff with your phone number for updates during and after the surgery.
    • After the operation, the surgeon will meet with you and other family members in the 4th floor lounge just before the patient is admitted to the TCV ICU. You will be able to see them within the next hour or two. After an hour or two, if the staff has not contacted you, please go to the TCV ICU entrance. Use the device outside the entrance; please ask if you are able to visit. If so, the staff will provide you access to the unit.
    • Be prepared when you first visit. Your loved one will look ill, many times they are pale, puffy and attached to many tubes and lines. This is normal. Your loved one may also be groggy or asleep when you first visit.
    • Please continue to contact the TCV ICU prior to each visit as a procedure or other activity may be in progress.
    • The hospital observes what is called “quiet-time”. During this 2 hours during the day and 4 hours at night, visitors are limited for so patients can rest. The times vary between the TCV ICU and 4 West / TIMU.
    • The patient will transfer from the TCV ICU to 4 West or TIMU once stable.

    WHAT CAN YOU DO TO HELP?

      • Ask questions, write down the answers and share any concerns or fears about the patient’s health. Tell us right away if you feel that the patient looks sick or is having any problems, or if your loved one is not acting normal.
      • Please ask us if you want to learn how to help with any daily care tasks. Learning to assist with daily care will be very helpful to you when your loved one is discharged home.
      • We do not try to limit the number of visitors. However, it is important to allow time for rest.
      • Keep germs from spreading — wash your hands before and after spending time with the patient. If you or a family member is sick, it would be better for the patient if you or the family member does not visit.
      • Take care of yourself. Plan breaks into your day. If you need any medicines or supplies, please contact your doctor or family. Please let us know if you need any special help or have any concerns while at the hospital.
      • Let your loved one be as independent as possible. Make yourself available, but step back and let your loved one do what he or she is able to do. Encourage them to get out of bed multiple times a day, if they are medically able, and work with the medical and therapy staff on increasing their mobility.
      • Physical therapy and occupational therapy may be consulted to work with your loved one during their hospitalization to help them recover and regain function and independence.
      • If possible, bring in comfortable clothing and a pair of supportive, nonslip shoes for your loved one to wear. Therapy may teach you exercises and activities that you can perform with the patient to assist in their recovery.
      • Please make sure you have money for food and drinks. In addition to the cafeteria on the 1st floor, extra food trays are approximately $5.00 per meal and may be purchased from the nurse’s station on the unit. 

    CARE PARTNERS PROGRAM

    When patients are admitted to UVA hospital they are given the opportunity to name 1 or 2 Care Partners.  Care Partners are adults identified by the patient or the patient’s legal surrogate to be an active part of their health care team.

    Care Partners receive an identifying armband to wear at all times and a security code to get information when they call the unit. The security code allows the care partners to receive information directly from the health care team and to manage information to friends and family. One Care Partner may visit or stay with the patient around the clock after the first night. Please ask your nurse if you have any questions or concerns. A UVA Care Partners Program Pamphlet is available if you would like more information.

    AT THE BEDSIDE:

    • Restrooms: only patients may use the bathroom in the patient room. Everyone else must use the public restrooms near the elevators or off the main lobby.
    • Showers: you may shower at our hospitality house from 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. They have towels and supplies for your use. Please ask a member of our staff to arrange a visit and a shuttle ride.
    • Calls & Visitors: You can help us manage calls by designating one family member to be responsible for updating other family members and friends. Please also help by informing visitors about visiting guidelines. This helps us to protect the patient’s privacy and to ensure adequate rest for the patient.
    • Medical Decisions: State law dictates who can make decisions for the patient if he or she is unable. If the patient has an Advanced Directive, please alert the staff.
    • White boards are in each of the patient’s room. The white boards contain information on who is caring for the patient, what the plan is and other valuable information. You can also use this board to write down and remind yourself of questions.
    • Daily rounds occur in the morning and immediate family members are encouraged to listen to the plan of care and ask questions.

    ON INTENSIVE CARE UNITS:

    • Our priority goal in the TCV ICU is to stabilize the patient. We will involve family as soon as possible. Please remember our main focus is the patient.
    • Patient conditions may change rapidly. We will explain what is happening and support the whole family. Our focus is on the patient’s needs.
    • Space in patient rooms is very limited. Staff must get to all sides of the bed at all times. Staff may ask you to leave the room or unit when they provide complex care or perform special procedures or if there is an emergency on the unit.

     ON ACUTE CARE UNITS:

    • Registered Nurses, therapists and other member of the healthcare team will encourage you to become involved in your family member’s care. This will include teaching you care skills that will help prepare the patient and you for a safe discharge.
    • In semi-private rooms, the nurse will work with both patients to meet their needs for privacy, rest and involvement of their loved ones. Staff must be able to get to the patient at all times.
    • We will work to make you as comfortable as possible in the room.

    MENDED HEARTS

    Coping may be hard for you too. You may want to join your loved one for support group or counseling. Mended Hearts is a local support group that is available for help and support for both you and your family after cardiac surgery.  For more information:  http://www.mendedhearts.org or call 1-888-HEART99 (432-7899).

    ON ACUTE CARE UNITS:

    • Registered Nurses, therapists and other member of the healthcare team will encourage you to become involved in your family member’s care. This will include teaching you care skills that will help prepare the patient and you for a safe discharge.
    • In semi-private rooms, the nurse will work with both patients to meet their needs for privacy, rest and involvement of their loved ones. Staff must be able to get to the patient at all times.
    • We will work to make you as comfortable as possible in the room.

     MENDED HEARTS

    Coping may be hard for you too. You may want to join your loved one for support group or counseling. Mended Hearts is a local support group that is available for help and support for both you and your family after cardiac surgery.  For more information:  http://www.mendedhearts.org or call 1-888-HEART99 (432-7899).

  2. related or referenced content:

TO ORDER MULTIPLE COPIES:
  1. Search for and choose the link to your document. (Left click)
  2. Right click the document PDF in the record. Choose "Copy shortcut" from the drop down menu.
  3. Open your email to send a "New E-mail".
  4. Right click in the body of the email to paste the link into the email.
  5. Send email with your name, PTAO, quantity and contact/delivery information to .