The ICU of the Santa Lucía hospital opens an outdoor area for patients and their families

The acting Regional Minister for Health visits the new outside area of the ICU at Santa Lucía Hospital in Cartagena

The Department of Intensive Care Medicine of the University Hospital Complex of Cartagena has launched the initiative ‘Walks that heal’ in the Santa Lucia hospital so that selected ICU patients can go outdoors during their recovery phase and improve their experience, well-being and emotional health and that of their families.

To this end, and as part of its humanisation project ‘SantaLuciaHUCI’, an outdoor meeting area for families and patients has been designed and developed in collaboration with the natural health and beauty products exporter Marnys-Martínez Nieto S.A., with views of the surrounding mountains and also facing the port of Cartagena.

This space has been set up on one of the building’s 153 square metre outdoor terraces, and has involved fitting out the accesses to the area and building a walkway for the ICU beds, as well as furniture and a vinyl wall to give it privacy, according to sources from the regional government in a press release.

According to the acting regional health minister, Juan José Pedreño, during his visit to the new infrastructure, “when the patient’s situation is stabilised, the possibility of being able to move him from his room inside the ICU and accompany him to the outside of the building, where he can feel the sun and air on his face again and be reunited with his loved ones, is an intensely positive experience”.

Pedreño added that “admission to an intensive care unit is one of the most stressful life experiences a person can face, so being able to enjoy the fresh air, the sights of nature and the closeness of family sends a message of encouragement and hope to the patient as they see the improvement of their clinical situation confirmed”.

The psychological and emotional support that these patients receive from their relatives and all the professionals involved in their care is very important to help them cope with this experience, and the ICU professionals had already organised some of these outings, to outdoor spaces with little traffic, but it was necessary to have a specific infrastructure, a reserved and large space with privacy.

More than 1,500 patients required admission to the ICU in 2022 and several patients in July 2023 have already been able to benefit from these ‘Walks that heal’, which are carried out following strict measures for patient selection and maintenance of monitoring and treatment conditions during their development, so that patient safety is ensured at all times.

Walks that heal’ is part of the actions that the Unit is developing in this regard within its humanisation project started more than three years ago, ‘SantaLucía HUCI’, an alliance of former patients, relatives, and different professionals with the aim of making the experience of spending time in an ICU as bearable as possible.

SantaLucíaHUCI’ aims to make those who live around patients with critical illnesses aware of the intensity of what is experienced in the ICU and try to do their bit to soften that experience.

During this time, initiatives aimed at improving the well-being of patients and their families have been promoted, including the extension of visiting hours, which allows for greater and more intense contact between patients and their loved ones, and the daily Welcoming Sessions for the families of newly admitted patients, in an attempt to soften the emotional impact that an admission to the ICU brings with it.

A specific post-intensive care consultation (PICS Consultation) has also been set up, in which a multidisciplinary team assesses and treats former patients and relatives, seeking to minimise the impact of Post Intensive Care Syndrome (PICS), both physically and psychologically.

Finally, live music sessions are being carried out, in which volunteer musicians perform melodic pieces in a personalised way in the boxes of patients who wish to participate, giving them special moments accompanied by their relatives.

Since the beginning of ‘SantaLucíaHUCI’, social networks have been used to communicate the actions that were being implemented and the Humanisation of the Santa Lucía ICU project can be found on Twitter (@HuciLucia), Instagram (santaluciahuci) and Facebook (SantaLucía Huci).

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