Critical Care Medicine

At the Cardiovascular Intensive Care Unit (CVICU)

We provide the most advanced level of care for critically ill adult patients with cardiovascular disease who need medical and surgical management of their illness. The CVICU leadership consists of our Medical Director, Dr. Matthias Merkel, and our RN Manager, Cyndi Perez, and reflects our focus on interdisciplinary care for our patients. Our CVICU has 26 beds with state-of-the-art ICU equipment and critical care procedures, including advanced ventilator management, renal replacement therapy, mechanical circulatory support systems, and extracorporeal life support systems, to help prevent and treat any organ failure. 

The CVICU has been the recipient of a Gold BEACON award, which acknowledges the consistent high quality of care delivered in our unit. We are also part of the Society of Critical Care ABCDEF bundle collaborative, which brings the newest, most evidence-based, patient-centric care bundle for critically ill patients to the bedside.

Round-the-clock care from experts

Patients suffering from conditions such as complex heart valve disease, heart failure or heart attack, or following open heart surgery, vascular surgery or newer endovascular techniques, need the highest possible level of care. The CVICU puts patients in the hands of a specialized team led by an intensivist who works in close collaboration with our cardiac surgeons, vascular surgeons and cardiologists. All intensivists in the CVICU have undergone specialized training in critical care medicine as well as core training in either anesthesiology, medicine or cardiology. Our teams are always available to meet patients’ needs, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. 

Our interprofessional CVICU team includes critical care physicians, advanced practice providers (nurse practitioners and physician assistants), critical care nurses, ICU pharmacists, respiratory therapists, care managers and social workers, and our rehabilitation group includes physical therapists, occupational therapists and speech therapists. We also have fellows and residents as part of our team, who are physicians in advanced specialty training following medical school.

Oregon’s only academic health center

As part of the state’s only academic health center, and the state’s only provider of clinical services for end-stage heart failure and heart transplants, the ICU at OHSU Knight Cardiovascular Institute provides patients with access to:

  • State-of-the-art comprehensive critical care.
  • The most advanced diagnostic tests available.
  • Internationally respected imaging experts who collaborate to find faster ways to diagnose and treat heart attacks and cardiovascular diseases.
  • The latest drug treatments and state-of-the-art surgical techniques.
  • First-class programs for the placement and follow-up care of the most advanced heart valves and cardiac assist devices (artificial heart pumps).

Comprehensive heart care

Patients at the CVICU will be close at hand to Oregon’s only comprehensive heart program, with programs and departments covering all aspects of cardiovascular care, including preventive cardiology and cardiac rehabilitation, heart rhythm disorders, structural and congenital heart disease, aortic conditions, ischemic heart disease, hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, cardiogenetics, and cardiothoracic surgery, including minimally invasive procedures for reduced patient stress and faster, easier recovery.

Critical care specialists

  • Elizabeth Bearden, A.C.N.P.-B.C.
  • Nicole Dwyer, P.A.-C.
  • Jennifer Erkenbeck, A.C.N.P.-B.C.
  • Michelle Freeman, P.A.-C.
  • Maia Lavarias, P.A.-C.
  • Stacey Lawrence, P.A.-C.
  • Jen Tobin, P.A.-C.
  • Karleena Twitchell, A.C.N.P.-B.C.

 

Visiting a loved one

There are no specific hours for visitation in the hospitals or clinics. Phone calls to patient rooms are allowed 24/7.

Location and parking

Free patient and visitor parking is available underneath Kohler Pavilion. Complimentary valet services are offered Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. Map and directions

Patient services

Whether you are a patient, family member or visitor, we want to make your stay with us as comfortable as possible.

In addition to the excellent health care we provide, we also support you in other ways, ranging from spiritual and interpreter services to online access to your personal medical record. We provide a variety of places for you to eat, fill your prescription, and shop for gifts or essentials.

Read more in the Inpatient welcome guide.

Please note: Due to the level of care and activity, only a limited number of closest loved ones may visit in OHSU intensive care units. We respect your choice as to who those visitors should be. To control infection, flowers are not allowed in intensive care units.