UC Davis Children's Hospital opens new, state-of-the-art pediatric and cardiac intensive care unit

The new pediatric intensive care and pediatric cardiac intensive care unit provides leading-edge technology in a setting that supports the medical and emotional needs of children.

Posted Nov. 23, 2011

UC Davis Medical Center and Children's Hospital entered a new era in pediatric critical-care medicine with the grand opening of its state-of-the-art, family-centered pediatric intensive care unit /pediatric cardiac intensive care unit dedicated to advancing health and saving the lives of critically ill and injured children throughout greater Northern California.

The facility admitted patients starting at 2 a.m. on Thursday, Nov. 17, beginning with the children's hospital nursing and medical staff transporting current patients from the former pediatric intensive care unit to the new PICU/PCICU.

"The completion of the new pediatric intensive care unit/pediatric cardiac intensive care unit reflects UC Davis' deep commitment to improving the health of the children of our community," said Ann Madden Rice, chief executive officer of UC Davis Medical Center and UC Davis Children's Hospital.

Slideshow: Grand opening event

The new facility, located on the 10th floor of the medical center's Davis Tower, provides Northern California's children with leading-edge technology and compassionate patient care in a setting that supports their medical and emotional needs and fully involves parents in their recovery.

Each year, UC Davis' pediatric intensive care unit treats more than 1,000 infants, children and adolescents who experience traumatic injuries, life-threatening infectious diseases such as rabies, H1N1 and pneumonia, among other illnesses, and who have undergone surgery to correct complex birth defects such as congenital heart anomalies.

The facility's new name is the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit/Pediatric Cardiac Intensive Care Unit (PICU/PCICU) at UC Davis Children's Hospital, acknowledging the large number of children who undergo open-heart surgery at UC Davis and recover in the PICU/PCICU.

At 25,000 square feet, the new PICU/PCICU is double the size of the former PICU and can accommodate one-third more patients. The former PICU/PCICU had 16 beds; the new PICU/PCICU has 24 beds. Individual PICU/PCICU rooms are larger, as well, giving caregivers easier access to respiratory ventilators, kidney dialysis machines and extra-corporeal life support (ECLS) equipment.

Slideshow: New facilities

The new Pediatric Intensive Care Unit/Pediatric Cardiac Intensive Care Unit is light, bright and airy, with architectural features that appeal to children.



The unit has a 2-to-1 nurse-to-patient ratio, and critical care medicine physicians are on-site 24 hours a day, seven days a week. UC Davis' renowned telemedicine capabilities will continue to extend the reach of the new intensive care unit to communities throughout California with two completely integrated telemedicine units. The Pediatric Telemedicine Program has conducted more than 350 emergency and pediatric critical care medicine consultations.

The grand opening event

UC Davis Children's Hospital celebrated its new Pediatric Intensive Care Unit/Pediatric Cardiac Intensive Care Unit on Wednesday, Nov. 16, during a special event attended by over 250 guests.

California Health and Human Services Secretary Diana Dooley addressed the crowd, complimenting the "capabilities, intelligence and skill" of the children's hospital team. 

Kristi Rolak Helstowski shared how the PICU  saved the life of her son, Owen, who has a rare condition in which his brain does not regulate his breathing during sleep.

"The amazing team of doctors, nurses, technicians and staff became our support, our friends, our extended family, not just Owen's caregivers,” Helstowski said.

The new PICU/PCICU was funded by Propositions 61 and 4, hospital revenues, Children’s Miracle Network and private donors.

"We are deeply grateful for the generous support of the donors, large and small, who have helped to make today possible," said UC Davis Medical Center and Children's Hospital Chief Executive Officer Ann Madden Rice.

"The new unit will facilitate the unparalleled care that children already receive from our superb intensivists, pediatric specialists and advanced-care nurses with first-class technology in a family-friendly environment that promotes healing," said Robert Pretzlaff, chief of the Division of Critical Care Medicine at UC Davis Children's Hospital.

The larger, single-patient rooms also enhance family-centered care. They accommodate a sleeping sofa and a chair in each room, which enables family members to remain at their child's bedside around the clock. Each room has its own television and bathroom.

All children who become ambulatory during recovery have access to an activity room with music, art and play therapy provided by the hospital's Child Life Services and Creative Arts Therapy Program. The program supports children's healing with positive reinforcement to relieve the stress and anxiety of hospitalization.

The light-filled, brightly colored unit features a wild-animal theme, with walls and nursing stations decorated with images of lions, tigers and bears caring for their cubs.

The unit complements earlier enhancements to pediatric facilities at UC Davis. One year ago, UC Davis opened its state-of-the-art pediatric emergency department, which expanded the size of the facility from six to 11 beds.  And in 2006, UC Davis opened an award-winning, neonatal intensive care unit for the tiniest, sickest patients.

UC Davis Children's Hospital is the Sacramento region's only nationally ranked, comprehensive hospital for children, serving infants, children, adolescents and young adults with primary, subspecialty and critical care. It includes the Central Valley's only pediatric emergency department and level I pediatric trauma center, which offers the highest level of care for critically ill children. The 118-bed children's hospital includes the state-of-the-art 49-bed neonatal and 24-bed pediatric intensive care units. With more than 120 physicians in 33 subspecialties, UC Davis Children's Hospital has more than 74,000 clinic and hospital visits and 13,000 emergency department visits each year. For more information, visit children.ucdavis.edu.