Wellington Hospital ICU
Wellington Hospital is the tertiary referral centre for the lower North Island and upper South Island of New Zealand. This gives us a catchment population of approximately 1,000,000 and a geographic radius of 300km.
Wellington Hospital's ICU supports six public hospitals that have intensive care units and one hospital that does not. To manage such a large area, we run a busy Flight Service.
Our Unit has 18 bedspaces and is staffed to 16 beds. We look after paediatrics, neurosurgical, trauma, cardiothoracic, vascular, renal, general medical and surgical patients. We don’t manage burns or plastics in our hospital, nor spinal injuries.
New Zealand has one paediatric (child) intensive care unit in Auckland (700km north) called Starship Hospital. We manage most paediatrics (80-100 per year) but refer the very young and very difficult on to Starship.
Wellington ICU treats about 1300 patients each year; 40% of these are elective and include 500 cardiothoracic patients. This gives us an average occupancy each morning of 12 patients with a range from 6 to 16. The median length of stay for patients is 28 hours, which reflects the high number of elective admissions. After this, 25% stay for the second day, 21% for 2 to 7 days and 6% more than a week. We ventilate 75% of admissions and have a mortality rate of approximately 10%.
This is a busy unit with a wide range of patients and severity of illnesses.
What is Intensive Care?
Intensive Care is the specialist care given to patients with acute (sudden), potentially reversible, life-threatening diseases. This may include patients who have life-threatening conditions such as a major accident, a severe infection or those recovering from a major operation.
Intensive Care is staffed by a team of highly experienced and professional doctors and nurses who are supported by other allied healthcare professionals. Specialist doctors, trained to look after very ill patients, staff the ICU. Most patients requiring intensive care treatment have a nurse allocated to look after them individually. The ICU also has physiotherapists, dietitians, pharmacists and many other healthcare professionals to help care for these very ill people.
What to expect
Much of the value of the Intensive Care Unit comes from the careful monitoring of the progress of a disease and the body’s response to complex treatments. This allows timely adjustment of such treatments. In order to achieve this, many investigations and monitoring processes will occur. It may be necessary at times to perform complex procedures in the ICU, which may be time-consuming and require the Unit to be closed to visitors.