Like adults, when a child has life-threatening symptoms or an unstable condition, they need special attention. A child may not be able to fight diseases and recover from health conditions the same way an adult can. So, medical care that specifically focuses on the child’s medical needs is crucial for recovery.
Sometimes children cannot accurately describe how they feel, or they refuse to cooperate, especially when they have a critical health condition. Skilled pediatric clinicians are best suited to examine children and make them comfortable. Stormont Vail’s Pediatric Intensive Care team includes highly skilled specialists to provide dedicated and uninterrupted care to children and teens.
Pediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU) at Stormont Vail Health
Our unit specializes in life-saving medical emergencies and exclusively serves children and adolescents from infants to 18 years old.
Our team integrates physicians and other health care providers from multiple specialties as needed for each patient. In addition to 24/7 care from our pediatric intensive care physicians (also called pediatric intensivists), we often work with cardiology, oncology, neurology, endocrinology, urology, ophthalmology, and trauma to design a treatment plan customized for each child or teen.
Every day, we also have team rounds that include a pediatric intensivist, pediatric pharmacist, child life specialist, social work, case manager, and a nurse practitioner. These daily meetings aim to closely examine each patient’s holistic health status and discuss important decisions and plans with the family.
We have six private rooms within a private, secure unit to ensure patient safety. A procedural room within the PICU is equipped with additional technologies for more advanced procedures that may require sedation.
After your child is discharged from PICU, we will follow up with your child’s primary physician and let them know the treatments received here and further care instructions.
Conditions We Treat
Medical and surgical pediatric conditions most commonly treated in pediatric intensive care include:
Severe AsthmaSevere asthma attacks can be life-threatening when the child has great difficulty breathing, is wheezing or gasping for air, and the inhaler is not helping.
Severe Respiratory DistressThis condition — which typically occurs in critically ill or injured patients — develops when the lungs are filled with fluids and don’t have enough air, causing breathing difficulty. It often stems from pneumonia or a respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) infection, which often resembles a cold.
Infections with Life-Threatening SymptomsSome infections are emergencies, such as breathing difficulty. For example, a child with pneumonia may have fast breathing and wheezing.
TraumaIf your child is seriously injured, their condition may need to be monitored. Some trauma patients spend time in pediatric intensive care until they are stable.
Cardiac ConditionsThis refers to irregular heartbeats and heart failure. Heart failure in children could be a result of heart defect or a viral infection. Your child could have trouble with breathing and feeding. Sometimes the symptoms can look like other respiratory infections, such as pneumonia.
ShockThere are three types of shock in children: hypovolemic shock, hemorrhagic shock and septic shock. A significant loss of blood or fluid from vomiting, diarrhea, trauma are main reasons for hypovolemic shock or hemorrhagic shock. Septic shock is a result of infection. Any shock is an life-threatening emergency because your blood pressure could drop suddenly and the airway could narrow.
Severe DehydrationHigh fever, diarrhea and vomiting are common causes of dehydration in children. If your body is severely missing the amount of water it needs to function properly, complications such as kidney problems and seizure can occur.
Diabetic Ketoacidosis (DKA)When your body can’t get the sugar it needs to maintain energy, it starts to burn fat and produce a chemical called ketone. When ketones build up, it throws off your body’s chemical balance and can cause diabetic coma and even death.
SeizuresFebrile seizure: A child between three months old and six years old could have febrile seizure when having a high fever.
Epileptic seizure: In infants and children, this type of seizure is usually caused by fever, infections, and in rare cases, brain tumors.
Meningitis: A bacteria or virus infection of the lining around the brain and spinal cord. Children could have breathing difficulty at the same time.
Encephalitis: This type of seizure is commonly a result of brain infection. Young children could also feel nauseated, and infants may have bulging in the skull.
SepsisA most severe response to infection. It can cause organ failure and trigger a series of fatal conditions.
Altered Mental Status/ ComaComa is a medical emergency where people are unconscious for a period of time due to an infection, stroke, injury or many other reasons. A child in a coma needs immediate care to preserve body functions.
Post Surgical ProceduresAfter a major surgery, your child usually needs intensive care to make sure their vital signs, such as pulse and body temperature, are stable and their risk of having a complication is reduced.
Drug ReactionsWhen a child has an allergic reaction to a drug, can put the child’s life in danger.
AnaphylaxisA very dangerous allergic reaction. In this case, an allergen can disrupt your immune system and send you into a shock and your body will shut down rapidly.
Our Treatment & Services
Our pediatric intensivists — specialists certified in pediatric critical care — provide care such as:
- Evaluating a child’s condition and making a diagnosis
- Prescribing medications and outlining treatment plans for children with lung disease and brain trauma
- Monitoring the child’s condition around the clock
- Placing catheters in the blood vessels and heart to exam if the heart is working well
Resources for Families
We believe family plays a central role in a child’s recovery, which is why we involve the patient’s family in the treatment plan. We update you on your child’s condition, educate you on providing care for your child, and offer emotional support. We have multiple resources available for families including:
- Child Life Program to offer play-based methods of support for children
- Daily bedside meetings with the patient, family, and full team of care providers
- Flexible visiting hours for families: Parents are able to be at the bedside 24/7. Other visitors can come to see a patient between 9 a.m. and 9 p.m.
- Grief and loss support
- Ronald McDonald House to accommodate out-of-town families
- Customized Baby Care Education Classes
More on the Ronald McDonald House
If you live outside of Shawnee County and your child is being treated at Stormont Vail’s pediatric intensive care, Ronald McDonald House provides a comfortable and conveniently located second home for parents to stay close by.
For families staying at Ronald McDonald House, Stormont Vail provides safe transportation back and forth from the house and the hospital.
You are welcome at the bedside 24 hours a day.
Other visitors invited by families
Visit the baby between 9 a.m. and 9 p.m.
Meet Our Team
The providers working in Stormont Vail’s PIC have dedicated their careers to caring for seriously ill children. From nurses to specialists, they are all deeply involved in your child’s care. Multiple specialists, such as cardiologists and oncologists, collaborate to treat your child, communicate with your family, and re-evaluate your child’s condition every day.