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SICU Patients, Families & Public Information

Having a loved one with a critical illness or injuries in the Surgical Intensive Care Unit (SICU) is a stressful and challenging time in your life and the life of your family. The SICU is an unfamiliar environment where a very large team of specialized staff are caring for your loved one. Very often your loved one is unable to communicate with the health-care team, and he may be called upon to make important decisions regarding their care.

Your loved one’s care will be directed by the SICU intensivist or by the primary attending physician in consultation with the SICU intensivist. The intensivist may be unfamiliar to you. Our SICU intensivists at UC San Diego Health are board-certified surgeons and anesthesiologists who have additional training and board certification in critical care. They are experienced in providing the most up-to-date critical care using a multidisciplinary team approach and using patient and family-centered care.


The key care providers in the SICU are the critical care nurses (CCNs). Our critical care nurses are highly trained and experienced and very skilled at monitoring and caring for the critically ill. The multidisciplinary team caring for your loved one includes dedicated SICU pharmacists, nutritionists, social workers, chaplains, physiotherapists, occupational therapists, respiratory therapists, imaging technologists and trauma technicians.

It is expected that you and your family may have feelings of anxiety and uncertainty during this stressful time. You can be assured that this is recognized by the SICU team and we believe your needs and considerations are an important part of critical care. Please do not hesitate to ask questions and have your concerns addressed, this is an important part of our role in caring for your loved one.

Visiting Hours

We will accommodate visits at any time upon request; however there are times when we will you to leave the room for few minutes for a procedure or for the privacy of an adjacent patient and family.

The best times to visit are between 10:30 AM and 6:30 PM or between 8:30 PM and 10:00 PM.

Although permitted, visits between 6:30 AM or 8:30 AM and 6:30 PM and 8:30 PM may be interrupted as the SICU staff will be changing shifts and may need to protect the privacy of patients.

Consider having family members taking shifts for visits so that several family members are not always present for long periods, this allows family members time to rest and avoid exhaustion.

We allow 2 people at a time during visits. Children under 12 are usually not permitted in the SICU with certain exceptions, please ask the nursing manager. Rooms are small and there is a lot of equipment, which makes space limited.

Please do not eat or bring food into patient’s room; drinks are acceptable.

No flowers or plants (standing water breeds germs).

Please turn off cell phones prior to entering the ICU. You can use them in the halls or lobby outside of the unit.

Remember that patients in the ICU need rest. Sometimes frequent visitors can be tiring, so we ask that you limit visitors.

It is OK to help your loved one to wash, reposition, and eat.

It may be helpful to bring magazines, CD players, and pictures from home.

Don’t be alarmed if your loved one seems confused or "foggy." Often people are taking strong medication or sedation. It's not unusual for people to have poor concentration or frequent forgetfulness.

Entrance to the SICU

For security purposes, the doors to the SICU are locked. Please use the telephone located on the wall outside the SICU to gain access inside the unit. A staff member will open the door.

To show consideration to all patients, we limit visitation to two visitors at a time. There may be times when you will be asked to leave the bedside or visitation may be postponed due to patient care needs or bedside procedures.


Good care and the law require that our patient’s medical information is protected. To best accomplish this, we ask that you identify one spokesperson for your family. It will be the role of the spokesperson to provide your family with ongoing information.

Regulations mandate that we only give out information regarding the location and general condition (stable, guarded, critical, etc.) to persons other than the family spokesperson. It is also very difficult to respond to numerous phone calls and still provide quality care to our patients.

Please help us to respect all patients and visitors during this challenging time by respecting their privacy.

Location and Parking

Visitor parking is available for a fee in the Arbor Drive parking structure located past the hospital entrance on Arbor Drive. Valet parking is also available during office hours.

Street parking is available on weekends and also weekdays between the hours of 7pm and 7am. You will be ticketed by the San Diego Police Department if you park on the street outside of these times!


200 West Arbor Drive
San Diego, CA 92103
Phone: (619) 543-6222

Infection control

Many patients in the SICU need isolation either for patient protection or due to multi drug resistant organisms. Please use the alcohol-based hand wash prior to entering all rooms.

If a patient is on Contact precautions, please don a yellow gown and gloves upon entry into the room.

For infection control reasons we do not allow flowers in the patient rooms.

If you have a cold or a cough, please ask a staff member for advice on visiting and mask usage.

SICU Waiting Room

The SICU waiting room is space limited and must be shared by all patients’ family members. Please limit the number of family members in the waiting room at any given time. Please ask the SICU staff for other waiting options.

SICU Family Meeting Room

There is a dedicated room for private meetings between SICU staff and families.

Important phone numbers

  • SICU: (619) 543-7428
  • Nurse manager (office): (619) 543-6876
  • Nurse manager (pager): (619) 290-2692
  • We listen: (619) 543-5678