Critical Care Medicine

UNC's Division of Pediatric Critical Care Medicine provides care to more than 1,000 critically ill or injured infants, children and adolescents admitted to N.C. Children’s Hospital's 20-bed pediatric intensive care unit (PICU) each year.

Critical Care Medicine click to enlarge Physicians within the Division of Pediatric Critical Care Medicine care for more than 1,000 seriously ill or injured children each year.

Beep, beep.

    Ding, ding, ding.
        Beep, beep.

Machines buzz, beep, ding and chime throughout the PICU. The constant noise of the various machines, vital to saving children’s lives, can be a source of anxiety and concern for parents of the patients to whom they're attached. As beeps change speed or dings change to buzzes, families may find themselves consumed with worry for the changing conditions of their critically ill children. Luckily for these families, the Division of Pediatric Critical Care Medicine strives to not only to provide the best care for North Carolina’s sickest patients but also to provide for the emotional needs of their families, as well. 

Overview

UNC's Division of Pediatric Critical Care Medicine provides care to more than 1,000 critically ill or injured infants, children and adolescents admitted to N.C. Children’s Hospital's 20-bed pediatric intensive care unit (PICU) each year. The nine faculty members not only have specialty training in pediatric critical care, cardiac anesthesiology and cardiac critical care but also training and interests in quality improvement, pediatric simulation, and pediatric palliative and supportive care.  

This combination of training and dedication allows the division's physicians to provide the highest level of care and support to the children and families that find themselves at N.C. Children’s Hospital at one of the most stressful times in their lives. The division supports the mission of the hospital to CARE for patients by aligning premier healthcare practitioners, world-class medical education and innovative, interdisciplinary research to provide the highest-quality, family-centered care, regardless of a family's ability to pay.

Programs and Services

The Division of Pediatric Critical Care Medicine uses the latest technology when caring for the most critical patients, including the full spectrum of ventilator modalities and the latest extracorporeal life support (ECLS) technologies. Providers work in collaboration with myriad multidisciplinary clinical teams to provide comprehensive care. These include:

  • Pediatric Trauma Team—As members of the pediatric trauma team, the division's physicians contribute to the hard work put forth by the Division of Pediatric Surgery and others in gaining recognition as a American College of Surgeons-verified Level I pediatric trauma center, the only such designated center in the Triangle.
  • N.C. Children’s Airway Center—The division serves as part of this multidisciplinary team focused on the care and management of patients with complex respiratory and airway diseases. 
  • UNC Burn Center—UNC Health Care has the only American College of Surgeons-verified Burn Center in the Triangle. Physicians within the Division of Pediatric Critical Care Medicine work closely with those in the Burn Center to provide care for the Children’s Hospital’s pediatric burn patients.

The division also leads multiple efforts to improve education, patient care and patient safety. This includes:

  • Pediatric Rapid Response System—N.C. Children’s Hospital was the first hospital in the state to initiate a pediatric specific rapid response system. The system was first brought to N.C. Children’s Hospital under the leadership of Tina Willis, MD, in 2005 and is now led by Cheri Hanson, MD, to help providers recognize the early warning signs of a cardiac arrest and resolve problems before an arrest occurs. The system reached a milestone in 2012, achieving more than a full calendar year without a single pediatric cardiac arrest on the pediatric wards.
  • Extracorporeal Life Support (ECLS)—Under the direction of Umesh Joashi, MD, the ECLS program has experienced tremendous growth and is poised for even further growth. The current program is nationally designated as an “ECLS Center of Excellence.”
  • Pediatric Schwartz Rounds—Established in 2013 as a first-of-its-kind program in North Carolina, Pediatric Schwartz Rounds provide a means for the entire Children’s Hospital staff to come together throughout the year to discuss the emotional aspects of their jobs in a multidisciplinary forum. Division members Afsaneh Pirzadeh, MD, and Benny Joyner, MD, participate as physician facilitators in these rounds, which have been well-received by faculty and staff.
     

It is through these efforts that the UNC Division of Pediatric Critical Care provides the best and most compassionate care to the patients and families of the children of N.C. Children’s Hospital. For more information, please visit the division's website.

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