UNMH Critical Care Day
UNM Hospital intensive care units gathered to celebrate National Critical Care Awareness and Recognition Month.  

The six UNM Hospital intensive care units gathered into the foyer of the Barbara & Bill Richardson Pavilion this May to celebrate National Critical Care Awareness and Recognition Month.

Critical Care Day was assembled in a collaborative effort by nurses, respiratory therapists and physicians of the UNM critical care units wto educate the public, non-ICU clinicians and staff at UNMH about the exciting world of critical care. “Not many people know what goes on ‘behind the curtain’ in an intensive care unit,” acknowledges Jon Marinaro, MD, director of the UNM Center for Surgical Critical Care and associate professor in the Department of Emergency Medicine.

By showcasing the specialty care associated with Trauma/Surgical, Neuroscience, Pediatric/Neonatal, Burn, Cardiothoracic and Medical intensive care units, Marinaro hopes critical care day will educate and inform all who partake. “This is a chance to raise awareness of critical care at UNM Hospital,” he says. “Each year adults and children suffer from medical, neurologic, cardiac, traumatic and burn emergencies and are transported to UNMH for treatment. We want the public to know they’re in the most highly specialized, most technologically advanced ICU’s in the state during what could be the worst day of their lives.”

The combined ICUs in UNM Hospital encounter between 30,000 and 35,000 patient days a year through a 24-bed medical intensive care unit, an 18-bed trauma/ surgical/cardiac surgery intensive care unit, a six-bed burn center, a 24-bed neurosurgical intensive care unit, a 20-bed pediatric intensive care unit and a 24-bed neonatal intensive care unit. UNM Hospital’s critical care specialists include physicians from surgery, medicine, emergency medicine, neurology, pediatrics and neonatologists, as well as nurses, respiratory therapists, dieticians, pharmacists, physical/occupational therapists and ancillary staff, all dedicated to caring for the sickest of the sick.

As patients, families, students, and hospital faculty and staff walked the rows, they were treated to engaging displays, presentations and hands-on demonstrations of specialty equipment and techniques employed by critical care experts in the hospital’s intensive care units.

“This was a great day,” says Kim Olin, RN, a specialty nurse in the Neuroscience Intensive Care Unit. “I got to talk with a lot of the public meandering through the displays. We all took the opportunity to show them what we do for them and reassure them that they’re in good hands when a tragedy happens. That’s important.”

Verena Weissenborn, an RN in clinical education, had a similar experience. “I interacted with a lot of nursing students who were getting some great hands-on training with our solid-state mannequins,” she says. “I was pretty impressed with their questions and their interest in networking.”

“The staff of our critical care units really went all out to develop compelling interactive displays and engage visitors,” Marinaro says. “At the end of the day, we’re all just people facing similar risks, fears and anxieties. We need information and reassurance about what critical care resources are available in our state. That’s what this day was about.”

In addition to the public Critical Care Day offerings, the UNM Center for Surgical Critical Care finished Critical Care Day with the Second Annual Michael W. Hansen Critical Care Conference featuring a lecture on Emergency Neurological Life Support by Dr. Wade Smith, director of the Neuro ICU at the University of California, San Francisco, and a second lecture from Dr. Zack Shinar from Sharp Memorial Hospital in San Diego about Emergency Extracorporeal Life Support.

This annual event is funded by a recurring gift from the Hansen family – Nancy Hansen and her daughters, Elise and Sarah – to honor Michael’s memory. Through their donation, the UNM Center for Surgical Critical Care has attracted some of the nation’s leading experts on critical care to lecture at UNM. “Education was one of Michael Hansen’s passions, and in his name we are raising the level of education for all practitioners in the region, and for this we are all very thankful to the Hansen family,” says Marinaro.