Intensive Care Units

The MassGeneral Hospital for Children Pediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU) is a 14-bed, multidisciplinary unit, which has distinguished itself by providing high quality care for critically ill infants, children and adolescents. Our patients present with a wide variety of life-threatening issues, such as severe infections, respiratory diseases, trauma and post-operative care of various complex surgeries.

Dressing a burn

Every child receives individualized care

Pediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU)

MassGeneral Hospital for Children’s Pediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU) provides the same high-quality medical, nursing and specialist care found in Mass General’s adult medical, surgical and subspecialty intensive care units. The difference is the focus on the unique challenges of infants, young children and adolescent care. With approximately 900 admissions each year, the PICU is staffed and equipped to care for a wide variety of life-threatening pediatric cases and conditions.

Seven physicians, all board-certified in pediatric critical care, staff the 14-bed PICU around-the-clock with assistance from seven fellows and a rotation of pediatric residents. There are 45 full time registered nurses, each with Pediatric Advanced Life Support certification and years of pediatric critical care experience. Under the leadership of Medical Director Natan Noviski, MD, and Nursing Director Arlene M. Kelleher RN, MS, the medical and nursing staffs collaborate with MassGeneral Hospital for Children specialists in:

  • Pulmonology
  • Endocrinology
  • Cardiology and cardiac surgery
  • Gastroenterology
  • Hematology/Oncology
  • Infectious diseases
  • Neurology
  • Nephrology
  • Trauma surgery
  • General surgery
  • Orthopaedic surgery
  • Neurosurgery
  • Transplant surgery

Multidisciplinary Collaboration

In addition to specialty consultations, the PICU staff collaborates with a multidisciplinary team of health care providers who are skilled in pediatric critical care. Multidisciplinary services are offered by a team of providers who specialize in Pediatric Critical Care Medicine:

  • Respiratory care
  • Pharmacy
  • Physical, occupational and speech therapy
  • Nutrition
  • Mental health, including psychiatry and social work
  • Case management
  • Chaplaincy

What to Expect

Family centered care is a cornerstone of our practice. Families are cared for in the PICU as much as the patients. In concert with Mass General’s policies, the PICU welcomes families with open visitation around the clock. The spacious unit is designed to accommodate families for overnight stays, and PICU staff educates and involves parents and family in the discussions, plans and decisions affecting their loved ones’ care. The typical length of stay is three to four days. However, patients with varying levels of complexity remain on the unit longer. Child-life specialists and pet therapists engage the pediatric patient as a means of reducing stress and anxiety.

Innovations in Patient Care

Mass General’s PICU is world-renowned for its innovation in telemedicine, which enables on-call attending physicians to videoconference from their homes, with PICU nurses and fellows for night-time and weekend patient assessment. The PICU began this innovation in 1996 to aid colleagues at Newton-Wellesley Hospital and North Shore Medical Center.

At the Forefront of Pediatric Research

Three main areas of research focus include neurocritical care, including traumatic brain injury, and concussion, methods of mechanical ventilation and innovative technologies.

  • The PICU received a grant from the National Football League to research factors that affect cognitive outcomes after concussions
  • NIH grants are funding research into neuroprotective mechanisms during stroke, traumatic brain injury, and cerebral malaria
  • With 20-25% of patients requiring mechanical ventilation at some point during their stay, PICU physicians recently studied the safety of recruitment maneuvers in children with acute lung injury and respiratory distress
  • The innovative application of technologies include the PICU’s use of a wheeze detecting monitor for care of critically ill pediatric respiratory patients, including those with asthma

Sharing our Expertise

PICU staff participates in MassGeneral Hospital for Children's global outreach efforts. Some of these initiatives include sending delegates to Ecuador, Haiti, Puerto Rico, India and Uganda. A recent mission to Ecuador brought a team of surgeons, nurses, anesthesiologists and intensivists to correct upper airway abnormalities and obstructions that require tracheostomies.

Innovations for Real-time Training

The PICU spearheaded a paradigm shift in simulation training at Mass General. Rather than going off-unit for simulated training (what to do, how to react to possible patient conditions or events), the PICU incorporated this training into its unit, in real-time. Results of this in situ simulation were presented in January 2011 to the Society of Critical Care Medicine. Among the initial results, in situ simulation increased the frequency of training, the number of people being trained, and the acceptance of such training.


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