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Pediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU) Houston TX

Children with life-threatening injuries and critically ill patients receive care in our Pediatric Intensive Care Unit. Youngsters who need extra attention - for example, post-transplant patients or those with gastrointestinal problems or seizures - receive treatment in the Children's Special Care Unit. 

These units play a pivotal role in the success of our renowned programs in areas such as neurosciences, trauma, pulmonary and transplantation.

Pediatric Intensive Care Unit

Our 20-bed Pediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU) provides critical care to traumatically injured and critical ill pediatric patients from birth to 16 years of age. Children's PICU iburs one of only three pediatric intensive care units serving the Houston area.

Special services include care following traumatic injury, kidney and liver transplantation and extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO). The PICU is equipped with isolation rooms and a private family conference room.

Pediatric specialties include cardiology, neurology, infectious diseases, endocrinology, hematology and psychiatry. Pediatric surgery specialties include general, trauma, neurology, plastic, transplant and otolaryngology

The PICU Staff

The Pediatric Intensive Care Unit is a major referral center for pediatric trauma. The staff is skilled in the care of children with traumatic injuries, respiratory problems, infectious diseases, burns, liver disease and cardiac disease, as well as postoperative care for children who have had heart, neuro- and general surgery.

Our nurses are required to become certified in Pediatric Advanced Life Support (PALS) within 18 months of their date of hire. Many of our nurses attend the Houston Area Collaborative Critical Care Program for pediatric nurses.

A Team Approach

Our multidisciplinary approach to family-centered care involves the participation of nutritionists, pharmacists, social workers, physical/occupational/speech therapists, child life specialists and case managers. Close collaboration between nurses and physicians enhances the quality of patient care, which focuses on the family as a whole.

We provide sleep rooms, a lounge and laundry for parents. Child life specialists work with our patients and their families, especially siblings, to assist in coping with the stress of a loved one being hospitalized and critically ill.

Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation (ECMO)

Children's Memorial Hermann Hospital is one of only two hospitals in Houston offering ECMO, which is used for newborns and children who are critically ill with respiratory failure or who are recovering after cardiac surgery.

The ECMO machine functions like a heart-lung bypass machine used in open heart surgery. It uses an artificial lung (membrane) located outside the body (extracorporeal) to put oxygen into the blood. The blood carries the oxygen to body tissues (oxygenation). ECMO can take over the function of the heart and lungs only for a short time.

During treatment, ECMO siphons blood out of the body and pumps it through an artificial lung. In the process, toxic gases such as carbon dioxide are removed and replaced with oxygen. The blood is warmed and pumped back into the body using the same process. While ECMO does not cure heart or lung disease, it allows time for the heart and lungs to rest and heal.

Care Conferences

Family sessions with members of your child's care team offer parents an opportunity to help plan their child's care during the hospital stay. Care conferences may be called by any member of a child's care team, including parents. They can be very helpful for children with multiple care needs.

Visiting Hours

Because we recognize that the family presence is comforting and reassuring to your child, we place minimal restrictions on family visits. Please help us provide the best possible care by following these guidelines:

  • All visitors to the PICU must first obtain authorization to visit at the reception desk. Entry is controlled for the safety of your child.
  • Two visitors at a time will be admitted.
  • If your child's condition improves, the number of visitors may be increased. This must be arranged by the charge nurse.
  • Visitation is limited to your child's room.
  • You may be asked to step out during procedures or tests.
  • Hospital visitation ends at 9 p.m. However, parents and grandparents may remain in the room after this time.
  • Visitors staying overnight must obtain a pass from Security, located on the first floor of the Hermann Pavilion.
  • If you wish to restrict visitors to your child's room, please notify your nurse.

Ronald McDonald House

Families of critically ill children can rest and recharge in the home-away-from-home environment of the 14-bedroom Ronald McDonald House located within Children's Memorial Hermann Hospital. A true collaboration between the hospital and Ronald McDonald House of Houston, the House includes seven rooms that serve the Pediatric ICU and seven more that serve the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. Ronald McDonald House of Houston furnished and decorated the rooms to create a comfortable environment that includes Internet service, refreshments, books, games and other services. The House also has two large family living rooms, laundry facilities and a kitchenette.

Each sleep/nap room with adjacent bath is designed to give parents a place to rest or spend the night. Bedrooms are available from 1:00 to 5:00 p.m. on a first-come, first-served basis by checking in at Ronald McDonald House office located on the 7th floor of the Hermann Pavilion. Overnight rooms are available from 7:00 p.m. to 11:00 a.m. and are assigned by your child's nurse. Parents or guardians are welcome to stay overnight with their child. One adult may sleep in the patient room on the window seat.

Children's Special Care Unit (Intermediate Care)

The Children's Special Care Unit provides specialized and/or intermediate multidisciplinary care for pediatric transplant patients and children with other acute or chronic conditions, including gastrointestinal disorders and seizures.

Our staff has advanced training in the following pediatric specialties:

  • Cardiology
  • Neurology
  • Endocrinology
  • Gastroenterology
  • Urology
  • ENT
  • Pre- and post-surgical transplant care

The physicians, nurses and other members of the Children's Special Care Unit are attuned to the needs of children. They take the time to explain to parents and children what to expect during the hospital stay, as well as specific treatment and care provided for each child's illness. Explanations are given to children in terms appropriate to each child's age and level of understanding.

The unit includes a playroom with toys, videos and games. Our Child Life specialists staff the playroom for part of each day and also visit children in their rooms. A teen lounge with TV and computer access is also available, and a parent lounge and laundry area help integrate families into the unit.

Patient education and discharge planning are major focuses of care in the Children's Special Care Unit. Our nurses and staff stay current with medical advances through continuing education programs, and we require that all nurses become Pediatric Advanced Life Support (PALS) certified within 18 months of hire.