Your Care Team


While at the Heart Institute, either an attending staff cardiologist or a cardiac surgeon will be assigned to your care. Since the Heart Institute is a teaching hospital, residents, fellows, and senior medical students may also be involved in your care. The attending cardiologist or cardiac surgeon supervises the residents and medical students to make sure that you receive the highest quality care. Each day the physicians, fellows and residents/medical students meet to discuss your care.

Please note: If you are being treated in the Cardiac Surgery Intensive Care Unit, an Intensive Care Specialist will be responsible for your care. The Intensive Care Specialist will regularly speak to your surgeon about your care.

How often will the physician visit me during my time in the Heart Institute?
Your team of physicians will visit you regularly during your stay to discuss your progress, treatment plan, and test results and to answer your questions. Please feel free to ask questions at any time. It is important that you understand your plan of care and that you participate in decision-making.

Will I always have the same physician during my time in the Heart Institute?
Members of the cardiology physician teams change approximately every two weeks. When changes occur, a new team member will care for you.


The same registered nurses (RNs) will be assigned to care for you as much as possible. However, because nurses work in 12-hour rotating shifts, you will have several nurses assigned to care for you during your admission. The nurses work with you, your family, the physicians and other health care providers to plan, implement and evaluate your care. The nurses will provide timely and consistent information to you and your family. Our objective is to provide continuous patient and family-centered care. Please feel free to ask questions and participate in decision-making.


Each patient care unit at the hospital has a clinical manager. Clinical managers oversee the day-to-day operations of the unit and are responsible for ensuring that patients are receiving the highest standard of care. The clinical manager is available on your unit from Monday to Friday during the day to speak to you if you have any concerns or questions. If you have any concerns that you have not been able to discuss with the unit manager during their rounds, you can contact them on their direct office line located in the Helpful Contacts section of this guide.


The nursing coordinator is an experienced nurse who is responsible for patient teaching, family support, crisis management and coordination of patient activities at the Heart Institute as a whole. The nursing coordinator will see you from time to time throughout your stay. A nursing coordinator is on duty 24 hours a day and is available upon request to answer questions.

Can I call the nursing coordinator after I leave the hospital?

The nursing coordinator is available by phone 24 hours a day to answer questions or concerns. Please feel free to call 613-696-7000, press 0. The communication clerk will contact the nursing coordinator to take your call.


The wait list management coordinators manage the Heart Institute waitlists for procedures and surgeries. The wait list management coordinators schedule procedures and surgeries using the Urgency Rating System developed by the Cardiac Care Network of Ontario. Procedures and surgeries are scheduled based on patient needs to ensure that patients have timely access to the cardiac care they need. The wait list management coordinators communicate with patients on the wait list, providing them with information and support. If you experience any cardiac symptoms while on a waitlist, contact the Wait List Management Coordinator to update them.


The pharmacist is a drug specialist. During your hospitalization, the pharmacist will do the following:

  • Review your medical history, including allergies
  • Check the results of your blood tests
  • Make sure that you are receiving the correct amount of medication
  • Make sure that your medications are not interfering with each other
  • Monitor how well your medications are working
  • Identify any side effects from the medications

If you would like to speak to the pharmacist about your medications, please ask your nurse.


During your hospitalization, your physician might request that a registered dietitian (RD) see you in order to address your specific nutrition needs. Working together with the team, the RD will assess and help you optimize your nutritional status. You might need a special diet, oral nutritional supplements like Ensure® or a feeding tube to meet your needs. The RD may also provide you and your loved ones with education on nutrition as needed.


During your hospitalization, your physician might request that an occupational therapist (OT) see you. The OT will help you learn to take care of yourself at home, including bathing, dressing and completing basic housekeeping activities. The OT will teach you how to save your energy and can suggest equipment that will help you take care of yourself.


During your hospitalization, your physician might request that a physiotherapist (PT) see you for respiratory care or to teach you breathing exercises, stretching and balance exercises. Physiotherapists have an important role in educating you about cardiac risk factors and suggest safe physical activity while in hospital and after you leave the hospital. The PT can discuss the prevention and cardiac rehabilitation options available to you.


The respiratory therapist (RT) becomes involved in your care if your breathing needs to be assessed or managed, or if you need equipment to assist your breathing. Respiratory therapists most often care for patients in critical care units but also provide service throughout the Heart Institute as required. Feel free to ask to see the RT on your unit. They are available 24 hours a day.


When you have health problems, your life may be disrupted and you may feel worried, stressed or powerless. Sometimes patients and their families need help when faced with difficult life changes. Psychologists can assess your mental health, provide counselling and refer you to psychiatry services when needed. The goal of counselling is to improve your ability to cope if you have cardiac health problems or if you are at risk of developing cardiac health problems. There are a number of options that are available for patients and their families, including group sessions and one-on-one counselling. You need a referral from your physician to see a psychologist.


When you are experiencing health problems, you might feel a loss of control, worried, fearful or stressed. Support and help with planning can make it easier to cope. The social worker (SW) will assist you while in hospital and as you get ready to return home. The SW is a professionally trained staff member who can:

  • Help you prepare to leave the hospital
  • Offer counseling and support
  • Provide community resource information and connect you and your family with others who can help in the community

Please speak with your nurse if you would like to see the social worker on your unit.

Social workers also work with patients after they have been discharged from the hospital to provide counselling and support. You need a referral from your physician to see the social worker as an outpatient. For more information, please call 613-696-7070.


On admission, you will be asked if you smoke. If you smoke, the smoking cessation nurse counsellor will visit you during your hospital stay. The nurse counsellor will outline different approaches available to help you quit smoking and will give you educational material. The nurse counsellor provides phone support after you leave the hospital. Six months after you leave the hospital, the nurse counsellor will telephone you for a follow-up assessment.


The speech-language pathologist specializes in the field of communication and swallowing disorders. The speech-language pathologist will assess you for the following:

  • Communication problems as a result of a stroke or other neurological impairments
  • Swallowing disorders, which could require bedside or radiographic intervention
  • Tracheostomy care, related to swallowing and voice/communication issues


The vocational counsellor specializes in assisting you to return to work or remain at work. They can also assist you with other vocational options. You will meet with the vocational counsellor if you participate in the Cardiac Rehabilitation Program. For more information about the Cardiac Rehabilitation Program, please see the section Educational Services of this guide.


A number of facilities and services at the Heart Institute are managed by our volunteers. The volunteers provide assistance and direction to visitors, assist with communication between families and the health care team and help to ease emotional and personal stress. Heart Institute volunteers wear red jackets and are located on the Main Floor lobby, outside of the main elevators on the first and second floor and in the Gift Shop.


Ethicists are available to help you, your family or your health team if you are struggling with a decision related to your health care. Whether it’s an ethical dilemma that makes you feel like you’re doing something wrong or feeling morally distressed because you don’t have the power to change the situation you’re in, ethical issues are not an uncommon experience. The following are just a few examples of situations when an ethicist may be able to support you or your family:

  • Withdrawal of treatment
  • Refusal of treatment
  • Problems related to consent and capacity
  • Issues related to advance directives or power of attorney
  • Making a plan of care
  • Conflict
  • End-of-life decision making

If you would like to see an ethicist, please call 613-722-7000 and ask for the Ethics Consultation Service.


Hospital chaplains are available to provide spiritual care for you, your family members and staff. They offer spiritual counseling, emotional support and resources for addressing ethical and religious concerns.

Spiritual care can be a source of strength and healing in difficult situations. The chaplains might be helpful to you in any of the following situations:

  • You are struggling with the meaning of questions such as:
    • Why is this happening to me?
    • How am I going to deal with this?
    • How can I live with this?
  • You are grieving or feeling anxious, hopeless, lonely, angry or guilty
  • You are seeking reconciliation in difficult relationships with others or God
  • You are facing challenging decisions
  • You are in need of support from your community

During daytime office hours (8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.), call ext. 815487 (or 613-761-4587 if calling from outside the hospital).

In an emergency or outside daytime hours (4:00 p.m. to 8:00 a.m.), call ext. 814221 (or 613-761-4221 if calling from outside the hospital).

A chapel is located at the Civic Campus on the main floor and is open 24 hours for reflective prayer. A non-denominational mass is held Monday to Friday at 12:00 p.m. and Sunday at 3:30 p.m.


Many patients from the Heart Institute Patient Alumni, a group of former Heart Institute patients, have volunteered to visit patients in hospital to offer support or share their experiences with you. If you would like a visit or telephone call from one of these volunteers, contact the nursing coordinator and they will make arrangements for this visit or call.