Acute Care

Intensive Care Unit

Our multidisciplinary Intensive Care Unit (ICU) team provides treatment to patients who are the most severely ill, often suffering from multi-organ failure and in need of mechanical ventilation. Their treatment includes a variety of life-support systems from medications and computerized cardiac equipment, to mechanical ventilation and renal replacement therapy.

The ICU provides care for various patients both at a specialized referral level and a community level. We accomplish this by having one ICU on two sites. St. Paul’s Hospital is a teaching hospital and Mount Saint Joseph Hospital (MSJ) is a community hospital that provides care to a culturally diverse group of patients. The Intensive Care Unit at St. Paul’s Hospital is a 15 bed unit and Mount Saint Joseph Hospital's  High Acuity Unit has 4 beds.

ICU is a fast paced, technology rich, dynamic work environment.  Respiratory Therapists utilize state of the art equipment to diagnose, treat and manage critically ill patients.  They are also a crucial member of the Cardiac arrest team and provide airway management in all areas of the hospital.  Our skills and knowledge are tested daily in the ICU.  Our primary purpose is to breathe for patients when they cannot breathe on their own. 

Cardiac Surgery Intensive Care Unit

St. Paul’s Hospital is considered the Centre of Excellence for Cardiac Sciences in British Columbia. The Heart Centre at St. Paul’s specializes in:

  • Open heart surgery
  • Heart transplants
  • Coronary artery bypass
  • Valve repair/replacement surgery
  • Acute heart failure
  • Insertion of mechanical heart assist devices

St. Paul’s Hospital performs over 1100 heart surgery procedures every year.

The Cardiac Surgery ICU is a busy 11 bed unit.  It is home to a fine tuned multidisciplinary team that includes Cardiac Surgery, Cardiology, Anesthesia, Perfusion, Nursing, Physiotherapy, Pharmacology, Respiratory Therapy and many other supporting professions.

Respiratory Therapists support cardiac surgery patients with ventilation and oxygen therapy immediately after surgery and throughout their stay at the hospital.

Cardiac Intensive Care Unit

The Cardiac Intensive Care Unit is an 11 bed unit that stabilizes all critical heart related illnesses for patients from around the province.  We are the only hospital in the province that offers all services from heart disease prevention to heart transplantation, mechanical hearts and Transcatheter Aortic Valve Implantation. The multidisciplinary team liaises with the Cardiac Interventional Units and Cardiac Surgery Unit to expedite life saving procedures. 

Respiratory Therapists provide ventilatory support and oxygen therapy as well as assist with the diagnosis and management of sleep apnea.   


Open 24/7, St. Paul’s Hospital Emergency Department provides emergency care for anyone living in Vancouver’s downtown core or coming to the area for work or pleasure. Mount Saint Joseph Hospital Emergency Department is open from 8:30 a.m. until 8 p.m. daily and offers full primary and secondary Emergency services to Vancouver’s East Side residents, as well as providing specific multicultural services. We specialize in caring for patients with complex health problems that require the skills of our medical and surgical specialists.

Respiratory Therapists play a vital role in each of the Emergency Departments.  Some of the services we provide are:

  • Treatment and education for chronic disease management such as Asthma, COPD and cystic fibrosis
  • Diagnostic tests such as bedside spirometry, arterial blood gases and oximetry.
  • Ventilatory support and oxygen therapy
  • Airway management during procedural sedation

Medical/Surgical Wards:

St. Paul’s Hospital is an acute care, teaching and research hospital, and is home to many world-class medical and surgical programs.  St. Paul’s focuses care on 6 Populations of Emphasis, which include:

  • Heart/Lung
  • Urban health
  • Mental health
  • Kidney care
  • Elder care

The wards at St. Paul’s Hospital and Mount Saint Joseph Hospital are very busy and intense places to work.  They are the temporary homes for patients in need of medical investigations, treatment, post-operative care and rehabilitation.

Respiratory Therapists are present to:

  • Ensure adequate oxygen therapy
  • Test and manage patients with sleep apnea
  • Teach and treat patients with a tracheostomy
  • Teach and manage patients with chronic lung diseases
  • Perform bedside spirometry
  • Assist with discharge planning for patients requiring home oxygen or tracheostomy care

Neonatal Intensive Care Unit

St. Paul’s Hospital provides comprehensive maternity and neonatal services for both low-risk and high-risk mothers-to-be and newborns. We also operate a Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU), level 2B, for babies who require intensive nursing observation and care and have in-house obstetric and anaesthesia coverage, 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Respiratory Therapists team up with the Pediatricians and Nurses to treat premature babies or term babies who have experienced traumatic deliveries or in utero distress.  Respiratory Therapists provide airway stabilization and ventilatory support in the short term or prepare babies for transport to BC Children’s Hospital if ongoing support is required.