Pediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU)

CHKD's 18-bed Pediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU) is the region's largest and most sophisticated critical care unit for children. Each year approximately 1,000 patients are admitted to the PICU from throughout Hampton Roads, the Eastern Shore of Virginia and northeastern North Carolina. Our patients come to us for a variety of reasons. Some need intensive care after a complex surgery. Others suffer from acute and life-threatening illnesses or injuries.

If your child should ever need the services of our PICU, our staff would work closely with you to help you understand your child's condition and treatments. Our staff understands that the critical illness of a child is extremely stressful, so we do all we can to support our families during their child's illness. Parents also receive a brief written guide to our unit in a folder when children are admitted. The answers to the following questions can also serve as a reference to our unit.

What conditions do you treat?

We treat any condition that could threaten the life of a child. These include severe infections, accidental poisonings, drug overdoses, birth defects, severe asthma and immune system disorders. We provide post-operative care to children who have had complex surgery, and we treat many children every year who are injured in car, bike and pedestrian accidents, falls and near-drownings.

Who provides the medical care to your patients?

Board-certified pediatric critical care specialists oversee all patient care in the PICU. But these physicians, also called intensivists, often call in many other specialists who collaborate to provide comprehensive care to each patient. At CHKD, a full range of pediatric medical and surgical specialists, pharmacists, lab technicians, radiologists, therapists and dieticians are available 24 hours a day for consultation and patient support. One child's team might include pediatricians from several different specialties, as well as critical care nurses, respiratory therapists, child life specialists. Chaplains and social workers are also available to help the families of our patients.

Can parents spend the night?

Parents are not allowed to spend the night at the patient's bedside, but the hospital provides a number of sleeping rooms for parents whose children are in the PICU. These are located within our family lounges near the unit. Arrangements and guidelines regarding the sleeping room are made through the PICU staff.

What is your visitation policy?

Parents and other family members are allowed to visit almost any time of the day, but we limit the number of visitors at any one time. The following policies were put in place to balance our patients' needs for close medical supervision with their needs to have loved ones nearby.

When a child is admitted to the PICU, the parents will be asked to compile a list of people who are allowed to visit their child. Only people whose names appear on this list will be allowed to visit.

Each family will receive six visitor passes, but only two visitors, including parents, are allowed at the bedside at one time. Other visitors with PICU passes can wait in the family lounge near the unit until they are able to visit at the bedside. Additional visitors will need to wait in the lobby until one the family's six passes becomes available.

Children younger than 12 are not allowed to visit the unit, but they may visit other family members in the lounge area.

Visitors are not allowed when nursing shifts change duty, generally 6:30-7:30 a.m. and 6:30-7:30 p.m. Visitors may also be asked to leave for brief periods to allow doctors and/or patients privacy.

Where can we get something to eat?

Parents, families and visitors may eat in the KD Café on the first floor or visit our vending areas on the first and fourth floors. Microwave and toaster ovens are available in this area.

Can I check on my child when I can't be at the hospital?

When you are away from your child's bedside, you are welcome to call the unit to find out how your child is doing. We may ask you to identify yourself in a special way (for instance, by giving us your Social Security number) to make sure we are giving information to the proper person.