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Home » Critical Care » Information for Communication…

Information for Communication with Patients in Winnipeg Intensive Care Units (ICUs)

The intensive care unit (ICU) is a specialized area in the hospital where we provide advanced treatments to critically-ill patients.

In partnership with our patients and families, the ICU healthcare team consists of nurses, doctors, respiratory therapists, physiotherapists, pharmacists, dieticians, social workers, occupational therapists, spiritual health practitioners, unit clerks, nursing/unit/rehab assistants, and students of all health-related disciplines.

How can I communicate with the medical team caring for my loved one?

Patients and their families are important members of the health-care team. However, at this time, family presence in the hospital is restricted for the safety of our patients, families, staff and community. We are committed to providing you with information about your loved one, and there are several ways that families can communicate with the ICU medical team:

Patient Updates: You can call the ICU nursing desk at any time and ask to speak with the bedside nurse caring for your loved one. Click here to go to unit contact information.

If the bedside nurse is unable to speak with you at the moment, we will call you back with an update as soon as we are able. 

Family Conferences: Let us know if you would like to schedule a formal meeting to discuss your loved one's status.  Meetings can be arranged by telephone (teleconference) or by video (videoconference). Alternatively, the care team may contact you directly to arrange a family meeting.

Family Conferences provide opportunities to ask us questions:

  • Ask us to explain any medical terms or words that you do not understand.
  • Ask us about the risks, benefits and alternatives to any test or treatment.
  • Ask us about the purpose and potential side effects of any medication.
  • Ask us about the discharge plan.

During this pandemic, we anticipate having more patients in the hospital than normal. As a result, updates could be delayed because caring for all patients is our primary responsibility. We appreciate your patience if a delay in communication happens. Our ICU team will do our best to work around your schedule.       

How can I connect with my loved one?

Maintaining a connection between you and your loved one is important. To improve communication during these challenging times, we are offering "virtual visiting" (i.e. videoconferencing) between patients and their families. Videoconferencing (i.e. FaceTime™ and Zoom™) allows families and patients to see and talk to each other in the ICU.  

Before sending deliveries to your loved one, please note the following items are not allowed at bedside:

  • Flowers or plants
  • Latex balloons

How do I set up for videoconferencing?

Please note: These communication methods do not guarantee privacy and confidentiality. Please use them at your discretion and complete the written permission request from your loved one's unit to consent to use.

You will need internet access, and a computer or hand-held device to participate in videoconferences with your loved one and/or the ICU medical team. FaceTime™ is available on all Apple™ products. Zoom™ can be used on all computers and hand held devices.  Directions on how to set up and use these programs are listed below: 

Getting Started with FaceTime™

Facetime Logo

FaceTime™ allows you to make audio or videoconference with calls over a cellular network or WIFI wi-fi with Apple™ products. To begin, open the application on your device (or conduct a search to find it) and enter the telephone number of the person you are trying to call. If the person's contact information is in your phone, you can call them directly from your “contacts.” Please note: FaceTime™ users must have a valid Apple™ ID and need to sign in the first time.

Getting Started with Zoom™ Videoconferencing

Zoom Logo

Zoom™ works with all devices and has a Web Client for desktop computers. It allows two or more users to communicate for up to 40 minutes (more parties can be added for shorter periods of time). All parties need to have this application on their devices and need to be logged in.

Steps for setting up Zoom™ on your device:

  1. Install the Zoom™ application on your device from the Apple™ App Store or Google™ Play Store.
  2. To join the Zoom™ meeting by phone, call any one of the numbers provided to you by the meeting's organizer, and enter the "Meeting ID" and "Password" when prompted.
  3. To join the Zoom™ meeting online, click on the link provided by the meeting's organizer, and choose "audio" or "video" participation.
  4. Creating a "free account" is not necessary to participate in Zoom™ meetings, but this option will allow you to organize (i.e. "host") and invite others to join a meeting.
  5. If you want to "host" a meeting, use the icons at the bottom of the chat screen to invite participants. You can use the "Schedule" button to pick a time that you want to meet, and then generate a meeting event using a calendar invite or email invitation. You may also need to share a "meeting room number" (a random, 9-digit code created by the application). There are options for video chat "on" and "off" - choose your preference.

More resources are available on the Zoom™ website or YouTube™ to help you get the most out of Zoom™'s features.

How can I help?

Choose a family spokesperson. This is the person we will contact to provide updates and help make care decisions.If your loved one is not able to speak for themselves, family may be asked to participate in goals of care discussions.

Provide us with a complete list of current medications. Please include prescribed and over-the-counter drugs as well as dietary supplements like vitamins, minerals, and herbal health products.

Take care of yourself. It is important that you take time to eat, drink fluids and rest. Let us know if you would like to speak with a spiritual health practitioner or a social worker on our team and we will have them contact you.

Offer suggestions. You know your loved one the best. Let us know if you sense any change in their condition that requires our attention.

Tell us about your experience. You are an important member of our healthcare team. Your feedback is important and will be used to improve the quality of our critical care services. Contact the unit manager or patient relations office when appropriate. Click here to go to unit contact information.

Strategies to cope with being away from your loved one when they are a patient in the ICU

COVID-19 has changed many aspects of our lives and healthcare. It is extremely distressing for family members to not be able to be with their loved one in hospital or ICU. As a family member in this situation, you may experience a range of emotions, including grief, guilt, anxiety, stress, sadness and anger that you cannot be with your loved one. The following may be helpful in coping with this very difficult situation:

  • Acknowledge how you are feeling and allow yourself time to feel difficult feelings. Some people find it helpful to journal how they are feeling or talk to someone they trust.
  • Remind yourself that there is no "normal" way to feel in this situation; the situation is highly abnormal and goes against our instincts of how we expect to be able to care for our loved ones.
  • Focus on what you can control. You cannot control what is happening to your loved one or whether you can visit them, and you may feel helpless and powerless. You can control your routine at home, what you eat, and who you talk to. Trying to maintain a consistent routine, exercising, and eating well will give you more energy to deal with your emotions and the current situation.
  • Reach out to supports you already have – other family members, friends, spiritual leaders - and connect through phone, FaceTime™, Zoom™ etc.
  • Use technology to see and communicate with your family member and their healthcare team.
  • Practice self-compassion (be kind to yourself). It is okay and expected that some days you may not feel able to do much at all. Remind yourself that what you are going through would be extremely difficult for anyone. What would you say or do to help someone else in this situation? Try to apply this to yourself.
  • Coping thoughts may be helpful to manage feelings you have about your loved one being alone. Writing down/reminding yourself of some key statements can be helpful to get through difficult moments or days. Examples (depending on the situation) might include, "My loved one is being cared for by expert hands." "Not visiting my loved one is helping to keep them safe." "My loved one would understand why I cannot visit." "My loved one is comfortable and calm."
  • If you would like additional support, there are several options:

    • Speak to your family doctor
  • If your thoughts or emotions become unbearable, you feel unable to care for yourself or others who rely on you, or have thoughts of hurting yourself or someone else, you need to access crisis support. Please call:

    • Klinic Crisis Line 204-786-8686 or 1-888-322-3019
    • Mobile Crisis Service, 204-940-1781
    • Manitoba Suicide Line 1-877-435-7170 (1-877-HELP170)
    • Kids Help Phone 1-800-668-6868
    • Manitoba Farm, Rural & Northern Support Services 1-866-367-3276,
    • First Nations and Inuit Hope for Wellness Helpline 1-855-242-3310

[Dr. Maia Kredenster, Department of Clinical Health Psychology, University of Manitoba, April 2020]

What services are available to support patients and families?

If you or your family members would like access to any of the following services please let your care team know.

Spiritual health practitioners provide compassionate listening and cultural care to people from all backgrounds, all faiths or no faith, respecting all values and beliefs. For more information on spiritual Health Services please visit each site individually

Social workers provide counseling and help patients and families obtain services related to their unique needs. For more information, click here.

Clinical psychologists are trained to assess and diagnose difficulties in thinking, feeling and behaviour as well to help people overcome or manage these difficulties using a variety of treatments or psychotherapies. For more information, click here.

Indigenous Health Services: The Winnipeg Regional Health Authority (WRHA) provides First Nations, Inuit and Metis communities with language interpretation, patient advocacy, discharge planning and spiritual/cultural care. Indigenous Health Centralized Support is available from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., seven days a week. Call (204)-940-8800 or toll-free 1-877-840-8880. For more information, click here.

Language Access Support Services: The WRHA provides in-person and over-the-phone interpreter services in several languages and dialects. These services are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Let us know your language needs. For more information, click here.

Health Links - Info Santé is a provincial telephone health information service. Registered nurses are available to speak with you 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Call (204) 788-8200 or toll-free 1-888-315-9257. For more information, click here.

Other available resources

Printed Materials are available upon request. Let us know if you would like to learn more about:

  • Blood Transfusions - what you should know about blood and blood transfusions. For more information, click here.
  • Delirium - a common state of confusion that is usually temporary but may develop suddenly in the ICU. For more information, click here.
  • Organ Donation - the process of giving an organ or tissue to help someone that needs a transplant. For more information, click here.

Unit Contact Information

Grace Hospital ICU

  • Nursing Desk: 204-837-0148   
  • Unit Manager: 204-837-0525
  • Spiritual Health: 204-837-0105 (Monday to Friday 8:00 a.m. – 4:15 p.m.) 
  • Social Work: 204-837-0210 (7 days a week)
  • Patient Relations Office: 204-837-0318
Shared Health Logo

Health Sciences Centre Winnipeg IICU

  • Nursing Desk: 204-787-3702
  • Unit Manager: 204-787-3134
  • Spiritual Health: 204-787-3884 (Monday to Friday, 8:00 a.m. – 10 p.m. After hours, call 204-787-2071)
  • Social Work: 204-787-1287 (7 days a week)
  • Patient Relations Office: 204-787-2704
Shared Health Logo

Health Sciences Centre Winnipeg MICU

  • Nursing Desk: 204-787-3711
  • Unit Manager: 204-787-7816
  • Spiritual Health: 204-787-3884 (Monday to Friday, 8:00 a.m. – 10 p.m. After hours, call 204-787-2071)
  • Social Work: 204-787-1287 (7 days a week)
  • Patient Relations Office: 204-787-2704
Shared Health Logo

Health Sciences Centre Winnipeg SICU

  • Nursing Desk: 204-787-3396 
  • Unit Manager: 204-787-7733
  • Spiritual Health: 204-787-3884 (Monday to Friday, 8:00 a.m.- 10 p.m. After hours, call 204-787-2071)
  • Social Work: 204-787-1287 (7 days a week)
  • Patient Relations Office: 204-787-2704

St. Boniface Hospital ICMS

  • Nursing desk: 204-237-2825
  • Unit Manager: 204-237-2860
  • Spiritual Health: 204-237-2356 (Monday to Friday, 8:00 a.m. – 4:15 p.m. After hours, call the paging office at 204-237-2053 and request to speak with someone in Spiritual Care)
  • Social Work: 204-237-2449 (7 days a week)
  • Patient Relations Office: 204-237-2306
Prairie Mountain Health Logo

Brandon Regional Health Centre

ICU Contact Information:

  • Nursing Desk: 204-578-4690   
  • Unit Manager: 204-578-4170
  • Spiritual Care: 204-578-4797 (Monday to Friday, 8:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.)
  • Social Work: 204-578-4639 (Monday to Friday, 8:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.)
  • Patient Relations Office: 204-578-2104 (Inside Manitoba) 1-888-735-6596 (Outside Manitoba) Email

For a complete list of Shared Health Manitoba Services, visit:

For a complete list of WRHA Services, visit:

For more information about the Critical Care Program, visit: