HCMC’s new pediatric intensive care unit opens

by Hennepin Healthcare

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Hennepin County Medical Center (HCMC) – a statewide leader in providing care to critically ill and injured pediatric patients – opens a brand new, 9-bed Pediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU) on Thursday, October 10.

At the forefront of pediatric trauma care since it was the first hospital to achieve Level I Trauma verification in 1989, HCMC’s busy PICU was outgrowing its space. The needed expansion offered an opportunity to re-create a more family-friendly area to support HCMC’s high level of pediatric trauma and critical care services.

“It’s important to us that our patients and families experience a warm, welcoming environment to contrast the intense atmosphere of care,” explains Julie Curti, RN, Nurse Manager of Pediatrics at HCMC. “Anything we can do to help families and patients feel comfortable and supported will also help with the healing process.”

That’s why every room is designed around the needs of the patient for privacy, connection to families and loved ones, and state-of-the-art, experienced pediatric care.

Each family-centered room has comfortable couches that fold out into double beds so parents and siblings can stay close to the patient at night. Monitors near the patient’s bed display real-time data, including lab results, so parents can track their child’s progress. These and many of the other features of the new PICU were suggested by patients and families, including the adjustable colored lights, and lighted display panels for photos that bring a personalized warmth and sense of home to each child’s room.

The 5,500-square-foot area also provides natural light from wrap-around windows so the young patients can stay connected to the natural rhythms of the day, which is important for critically ill children.

Dr. Andrew Kiragu

Dr. Andrew Kiragu

“This is especially true for children with traumatic brain injuries,” says Dr. Andrew Kiragu, the Medical Director of HCMC’s PICU, where they specialize in the treatment of children with concussions and other traumatic brain injuries. “Natural daylight may also improve outcomes for all kids who are in the intensive care unit.”

Critical care physicians like Dr. Kiragu as well as trauma and burn surgeons and other specialty trained staff are onsite at HCMC 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to care for patients in the PICU and the pediatric Burn ICU. Nurses in the PICU and the Burn Unit are specially trained to care for the smallest trauma patients.

The new PICU is now located directly across the hallway from the adult intensive care units, which may not seem very relevant, but if other family members have been critically injured it can make a big difference.

“As a Level I Adult and Pediatric Trauma Center, we unfortunately see many instances where multiple family members are involved in car crashes, fires or other incidents,” explains Dr. Kiragu. “Thankfully, we’ve always been able to keep families together at our Trauma Center, and now injured children can be even closer to other family members receiving intensive care.

“We understand that an intensive care unit is the last place any parent would want to see their child,” Dr. Kiragu adds. “So in addition to providing the best medical care possible – we want to do everything in our power to help reduce the stress families go through when their loved one is experiencing an illness or injury. Providing thoughtful, intentional measures of comfort with a beautiful new PICU is one simple way we can do this.”

For more than 120 years, Hennepin County Medical Center has successfully taken care of critically injured and ill children. That experience makes a huge difference when a child’s life is at risk. HCMC is a Level I Pediatric Trauma Center with the right people and equipment in place, ready to care for critically injured children from the time of injury through rehabilitation. For more information about pediatric trauma and critical care services at HCMC, go to www.hcmc.org/pediatrics.

Facts about HCMCs new PICU