When the children of Louisiana and the northern Gulf Coast face life-threatening injuries and illnesses, they can count on Children's Hospital's state-of-the-art Pediatric Intensive Care Unit to meet their critical care needs. Located on the top floor of the hospital's west tower, the 9,456-square-foot PICU opened in May 2009.
The unit features 18 private patient rooms outfitted with cutting-edge technology that assists the staff of four specialists and more than 30 nurses and residents in instantly providing the best available critical care for the children of the Gulf South and an avant-garde medical philosophy including stunning panoramic views of Greater New Orleans that will assist in each child’s recovery.
Garnering National Attention
Each patient room is designed to allow medical staff to perform almost any procedure bedside. Ceiling-mounted surgical lights and boom arms that provide patients oxygen and medical gas have been upgraded from the previously standard wall-mounted design, allowing medical professionals 360-degree access to the child.
Patients receive care for a full spectrum of diseases and therapies, as well as postoperative heart and renal surgeries. The unit can also provide all ventilatory support, including ECMO. In addition to the latest medical advances, the unit includes design elements to lift the spirits of children and families in hopes that healing will be easier.
"It brings together the latest technology – monitors, computer systems, beds – to help us take care of the kids the best we can,” said PICU Medical Director Costa Dimitriades, MD. "Parents should expect that their child will get the same type of care here as they would at PICUs in Houston, Boston, Chicago and Baltimore. But more important, the unit is set up to provide care for the patient with the family being there.”
Stress & Solace
The unit's design gives recovering children and their families a less "helter-skelter” environment to get well in while medical staff performs their duties.
Dr. Dimitriades (shown right) said there can be a very chaotic situation in one room and the rest of the unit can stay relatively calm. That is important for the rest of the families in the unit because it reduces stress and minimizes other traumatic experiences for other patients, families and visitors. "We can operate in one room with doors closed and curtains drawn and keep the unit open to other families to visit their child,” he said.
The unit has a policy of allowing one parent to stay in their child’s room at all times except during twice daily rounds. Each room has an oversized club chair that converts into a twin bed so a parent can stay overnight to calm their child when needed. "That will help reduce anxiety and related stress for the kids and adults that will have a very positive impact on them and the staff,” he said.
Hospital staff worked with architects to design a modern unit that features the latest medical advances in a soothing environment conducive to healing. The rectangular-shaped unit features glass walls which offer almost 270-degree, panoramic views overlooking Audubon Park to the west, Lake Pontchartrain to the north and downtown New Orleans and the Mississippi River to the east. Waiting and family consultation rooms are situated on the southwest corner of the unit, overlooking the river and Audubon Zoo. Soft colors were selected for the unit’s walls, decorative glass, desks and cabinetry to create a light, serene setting that encourages tranquility.
"The new PICU gives an amazing first impression,” said critical care nurse Jeanie Graves. "Natural light permeates the whole unit, so it’s bright and cheerful. The kids love having an area that feels bright and open. It helps them heal physically and psychologically. It’s beautiful … just amazing.”