What to Expect in the PICU

A Guide for Family and Friends of Patients

Because we promote a family-centered approach to care, parents or caregivers are encouraged to spend as much time with their children in the PICU as possible. But we also know that spending time in a pediatric intensive care unit can be overwhelming, especially for first-time visitors. To help offer comfort, each of our private patient rooms includes enough sleeping space for two family members.

PICU Visiting Guidelines

To help ensure the safety and comfort of our young patients, we ask that visitors please observe the following guidelines:

  • Up to four primary support persons (e.g. parents, guardians, spouses) may receive 24-hour access. Up to two primary support persons may stay overnight.
  • Up to six individuals (e.g. siblings, other family members, friends) may come to the PICU during regular visiting hours.
  • Additional family members and friends may share their support by calling the gift shop to send an e-greeting card or gift item. Our gift shop can be reached at 901-227-9852.
  • All visitors must be free from fever, cough, colds or stomach virus symptoms, and if not living alone, must be living with persons who are also healthy. Visitors can unintentionally spread germs if a household member is ill.
  • All visitors are asked to wash their hands before entering and after exiting a patient's room.

What You Might See in the PICU

First-time visitors to a pediatric intensive care unit may feel uncomfortable in the setting. With advanced technology and specialized equipment, it is common to see or hear medical devices or equipment in a patient's room. When visiting the PICU, some of the things you might see include:

  • IVs - A thin, flexible tube typically inserted in the hand or arm, used to deliver a continuous regimen of fluids or medications.
  • Smart Pumps – Used to accurately measure a child's exact body weight calculations for precise medications.
  • Monitors – A painless way to keep track of a patient's vital signs, like heart rate and breathing rate. Kids are attached to monitors through stickers connected to wires.
  • Ventilators – A machine that supports kids who need help breathing. At Baptist's PICU, we use technologically advanced and high-frequency ventilators which are much gentler on tiny airways, and can prevent lung damage in babies or children who will need to be ventilated for extended periods of time.
  • Video Intubation Systems – Used for guided access through difficult airways.

Helping siblings feel comfortable is also important to us. Our social workers and child life specialists are available to help both patients and their young visitors become familiar with the hospital environment. They use a mix of age-appropriate play and educational materials to help kids adjust to the PICU.

When Kids Leave the PICU – What to Know

Just as important as knowing what to expect while visiting the PICU, is knowing what to expect when a child leaves. A discharge from the PICU signifies that a child has improved to the point where he or she no longer needs an intensive level of care. In some cases, patients will be sent home directly from the unit. In most cases, they will be transferred to the general floor of the children's hospital for additional recovery time.

While a PICU discharge is always positive, it may cause anxiety in parents or caregivers who may wonder:

Would my child be better off staying in the PICU?

Our doctors and nurses are extensively trained in the care and assessment of critically ill pediatric patients. This experience enables them to determine when children have improved enough to safely leave the PICU. Thorough communication between the PICU team and the follow-up care team also allows for seamless, continued recovery.

How can I continue to support my child's recovery at home?

Because of our commitment to family-centered care, the collaboration between your family and our team will not end when your child leaves the PICU. Our team will help you understand discharge plans, follow-up appointments, medicines and any other essential information.

Additionally, we are always available to answer questions you have about your child's physical and emotional health. For more information, explore our PICU Support Services or give us a call at 901-227-8911.

Contact Us

Spence and Becky Wilson Baptist Children's Hospital

6225 Humphreys Blvd.
Memphis, TN 38120

901-227-PEDS (7337)