Admission to the PICU

Admission to an intensive care unit can be frightening and stressful for the patient and his or her family. We will do everything possible to alleviate your fears throughout your child's hospitalization. You can help create a familiar and comforting environment for your child by bringing a familiar item from home and remaining with your child as much as possible during their stay. We encourage parents to participate in their child's care, whenever possible.

Leaving the PICU

When children no longer requires the level of care and monitoring provided by our intensive care unit, they will be transferred to another unit within the hospital. Based upon the needs of our patients, these transfers can occur at any time during the day or night. The staff of the PICU will make every attempt to notify parents prior to the child's transfer from the PICU. For this and many other reasons, it is important that you notify your child's nurse how you can be reached when you leave the unit

Our guidelines

  • Parents and grandparents are welcome to visit throughout the day.
  • Only two visitors are allowed in the PICU per child. A lounge, equipped with vending machines, microwave, and tables and chairs is where additional family members may wait. This area can also be used as a sleeping area for parents or grandparents. We do permit one family member to sleep in the patient's room. Space permitting, two individuals (parent, grandparent or guardian) per patient may spend the night. Children may not stay overnight in the lounge.
  • If you plan to spend the night, please place purses, wallets and valuables in a safe place while sleeping. Lockers are available in the parent lounge and locks may be obtained from security.
  • Visitors under the age of 15 are not allowed in the PICU or in the parent lounge. Siblings may visit under special circumstances after prior discussion with your child's nurse or charge nurse.
  • To promote a healthy environment for our patients, smoking is not permitted anywhere in the hospital.

Prior to visiting with your child

  • Obtain a visitor's pass from the information desk.
  • Sign in at the first nurses' station.
  • Have your visitor's badge in plain view.
  • Identify yourself to your child's nurse.
  • Wash your hands thoroughly using soap and warm water for 3 minutes. Sinks are located throughout the PICU and in each patient room.
  • Observe isolation guidelines as instructed by your child's nurse.
  • Food and drinks are not permitted in the PICU.

Phone messages

Phones are located in the PICU lounge. Parents may use them free of charge. Cell phone are prohibited in the intensive care unit due to interference with some equipment. Information about patient conditions will only be given to parents over the phone. Phone messages for parents will be taken and placed in a message station located at the front desk of the PICU.

The phone number to the PICU is 314.454.4466. When you leave the hospital we encourage you to call the PICU as often as you wish to check on your child's condition.

Sights and sounds

There are many unusual sights and sounds in the PICU that can be intimidating or frightening. Please ask questions as often as you wish.

Children are connected to monitors that measure and record heart rate, respiratory rate and hemoglobin oxygen saturation. This is not painful and is necessary for the safety of all patients.

Most patients require the placement of an intravenous catheter to allow the delivery of fluids and medications. These fluids maintain the body's fluid balance and provide glucose (and other sources of nutrition) and the medications to treat your child's condition or illness.

Often critically ill children will require the administration of supplemental oxygen in order to maintain adequate blood oxygen levels. Children may receive oxygen through a nasal cannula or mask.

Some children will also require either mechanical breathing assistance or higher levels of supplemental oxygen than can be delivered through a cannula or mask. When this is necessary, an endotracheal (breathing) tube is placed through their nose or mouth. This tube provides a connection between the patient and the ventilator, a machine that helps the patient breath and aids in the delivery of oxygen and the removal of carbon dioxide.

Some patients with lung disease also require breathing treatments (aerosolized medications). These can be administered by mask and though the ventilator. The administration of these treatments is carried out by the respiratory therapists dedicated to the care of children in our PICU.

Many other types of equipment, treatments and therapies may be administered to your child, depending upon his or her individual needs. The nurses, physicians and other staff members will explain these therapies to you and your child. Please ask if you have questions.