Visiting Guide for the Intensive Care Unit (ICU)

We understand that visitors are important for our patients’ and healing. Our Intensive Care Unit (ICU) specializes in the care of critically ill patients. Please follow this guide to help us create a welcoming, respectful, quiet and safe environment for our patients, families, visitors and staff.

In your loved one’s best interest, there will be times you may have to step out of the room for us to provide care and treatment. Sometimes, you may be able to visit longer, or your visiting time may be limited or restricted.

Planning your visit

Brigham and Women’s Hospital is located at 75 Francis Street in Boston’s Longwood Medical Area. We can be easily reached by public transportation, and we offer valet parking for visitors. The 80 Francis Street Garage is available to families and visitors 24/7.

If your visit is beyond six hours and you did not use valet parking, please make sure to get your parking ticket validated prior to leaving. To note, valet parking is already validated to a reduced rate.

  • Monday–Friday, 8 am to 5 pm: In Patient/Family Relations
  • On nights and weekends: At the 75 Francis Street Information Desk

Graphic map of Brigham and Women's Hospital campus

Visit maps.brighamandwomens.org for step-by-step directions to our ICU.

Please click here to view Brigham and Women’s Hospital’s visitor policy for the latest information on visiting hours.

When you arrive on the floor, please call the front desk number listed by the door or ring the doorbell from the visitor waiting area.

Number of Visitors

Two visitors may visit at a time in order to help maintain a healing environment. This is subject to change.

Waiting Areas

For the privacy of all of our patients, visitors are encouraged to wait in hospital waiting areas instead of standing in the hallways. Learn more at about waiting areas at Brigham and Women's Hospital.

Safety

If you have a fever, flu-like symptoms or other symptoms of infection, please do not visit until you feel better.

Behavior

Respectful behavior is expected of all. Please refer to the Mass General Brigham Code of Conduct.

Medical equipment

To keep loved ones safe, please do not touch any medical equipment.

Hand Hygiene

Please use PURELL hand sanitizer or wash hands when entering and leaving patient rooms.

Children

Please discuss visits for children under the age of 12 with the patient’s nurse. Children must always have adult supervision and may not stay overnight.

Quiet

Please be thoughtful when using cell phones in patient care areas and waiting rooms. To help our patients rest and recover, some units have quiet hours during the day.

Photos/videos

Pictures and/or videos of patients and/or staff may not be taken without their consent. This is in line with Massachusetts state law on maintaining patients’ privacy.

Overnight stays

Braunwald Tower ICU: Due to lack of space in the ICU rooms, visitors are not able to sleep in patient rooms.

We recommend reserving a local hotel room if needed. Learn more about local hotel accommodations options that are available at discounted rates or contact Patient/Family Relations at 617-732-6636 Monday–Friday, 8 am to 5 pm.

Shapiro ICU: One person may stay overnight in the patient’s room. Overnight visitors must be at least 18 years old.

Please be aware that your sleep may be limited due to lighting and your loved one receiving patient care.

  • Overnight visitors must obtain a security pass from security at the 75 Francis Street Information Desk.
  • Staff may need to ask visitors to leave the patient’s room at any time to provide patient care.
  • Appropriate clothing/sleepwear and shoes must always be worn in and outside of patient’s room.
  • The patients’ bathroom and shower may not always be available to use.
  • If needed, toiletries can be purchased at our gift shop, or you may bring them from home.

Communication with our care team

Communication with a patient’s family is important to us. The patient’s care team tries to meet with the patient’s family within 48 hours of arrival to discuss the patient’s care plan. You are welcome to ask the patient’s nurse if you’d like to meet with the patient’s care team.

Calling for patient updates

Respect for patient privacy is important to us. We ask patients or their health care proxy to identify a family spokesperson for all communications, including updates on the patient’s condition.

This family spokesperson will relay updates to the patient’s extended family and friends. This helps us to maintain patient privacy while minimizing interruptions to your loved one’s care.

Changes of shift occur at 7 am and 7 pm, which are busy times on our unit. If possible, please avoid calling for updates at these times.

Members of the ICU care team

Our team is committed to providing patients with the highest quality and safest care possible.

Click on a title below to learn more about that role:

Critical Care (Attending) Physician

The ICU team leader who coordinates the patient’s care. This person will change every one to two weeks.

Surgical Attending

The surgeon who performed the patient’s surgery and discusses goals with the critical care (attending) physician.

Critical Care Fellow

A physician undergoing advanced training in Critical Care. This person works with the critical care (attending) physician to coordinate care and teach residents.

Resident Physician

A physician undergoing training in internal medicine, emergency medicine or surgery. This person performs many procedures under the supervision of the Critical Care fellow or critical care (attending) physician. This person will change every two weeks.

ICU Nurse

A nurse with advanced training in the care of critically ill patients. This person will perform most of the patient’s daily needs.

Patient Care Assistant (PCA)

An assistant who provide support to the nursing staff.

Unit Coordinator

This person answers unit phones, maintains medical records, coordinates visitors and ensures that admission/discharge systems are updated in a timely manner.

Care Coordinator

A nurse who assists families with discharge planning. This person is familiar with community resources and helps to arrange a patient’s transition to home or a rehabilitation facility.

Social Worker

This person supports patient and family members during times of critical illness. This person also assists with family communication and socioeconomic and financial needs.

Respiratory Therapist

A specialist who provides therapy to improve breathing and help care for patients on ventilators.

Physical therapists, occupational therapists, dieticians and chaplains are also part of the ICU care team.

Critically ill patients may require a high degree of medical and nursing care. They may also require additional support from consulting services for renal, infectious disease, palliative care, heart failure and more.

You can expect to see

Patients in the ICU may require specialized equipment to help monitor and support their body systems. Some of this equipment includes:

  • Machines, often referred to as “ventilators” or “respirators,” that helps patients breathe
  • Monitors that record vital signs and oxygen levels, both inside and outside of the patient’s room
  • Tubes that are placed in the patient’s veins, nose and mouth to help deliver fluids and medicine

There are times when staff must wear yellow gowns and gloves to reduce the risk of infection.

Research in the ICU

We always strive to improve our patient care. One of the ways do this is by participating in research studies. Patients and families may be asked to participate in a research study. Please know that participation is voluntary, and your decision does not affect patient care.

Additional information

Wi-Fi: Available under the following network: MGBGuest

Valuables: Please leave any valuables at home.

Food and Beverages:

  • Garden Café: The cafeteria on the second floor of Braunwald Tower (6 a.m.–11:30 p.m.)
  • Panera: Located on the first floor of Braunwald Tower (open 24/7)

Learn more about dining options at Brigham and Women's Hospital.

Shop on the Pike: Our gift and flower shop is located on the second floor Pike—across from the Braunwald Tower 2 mezzanine and down the hall from the cafeteria. They can be reached by phone at 617-732-7878.

  • Monday–Friday: 7 am to 6 pm
  • Saturday: 11 am to 5 pm

Flowers and Plants: These are not always allowed in some ICUs, due to patient medical conditions. Please check ahead of time with the unit.

Patient/Family Relations: Located at the 75 Francis Street entrance on the first floor. They can be reached by phone at 617-732-6636.

Security: No weapons are allowed into the hospital.

Other phone numbers you may need

Spiritual Care Services: 617-732-7480

Interpreter Services: 617-732-6639

Security: 617-732-6565

Learn more about Brigham and Women's Hospital


For over a century, a leader in patient care, medical education and research, with expertise in virtually every specialty of medicine and surgery.

About BWH