The Barbara Bush Children's Hospital

Pediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU)

The pediatric intensive care unit (PICU) at The Barbara Bush Children’s Hospital is one of the most sophisticated pediatric critical care facilities in the Northeast – featuring the latest in design and technology, including a positive pressure room and two negative pressure rooms. There are eight single-bed private rooms, allowing family members to stay with their child and provide constant support.

Our PICU provides intensive care for more than 450 critically-ill children each year. Our doctors and nurses are on-site or on-call 24/7 and are specially trained in pediatric critical care medicine. The nurse-to-patient ratio is higher than the general pediatric unit to ensure constant monitoring and care for each young patient. Our providers have the expertise to care for children with:

  • Acute critical illness
  • Serious injuries from accidents
  • Burns
  • Severe neurological illness or injury
  • Organ failure
  • Those who have undergone complex surgery

This expert care includes advanced therapies in invasive and non-invasive respiratory support, circulatory support, sophisticated monitoring techniques and administering certain medications that require close medical supervision. When patients are ready to transition, proximity to the BBCH inpatient unit provides seamless continuity of care for patients and families.

ECMO Services Now Available

BBCH stays on the cutting edge of pediatric cardiology technology and treatments. Our latest advancements include extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) treatment for children. ECMO treatment involves a mechanical pump and oxygenator that can be used to replace the function of the heart and/or lungs when a child's organs are too sick to do the job. ECMO can help support the body and allow the heart and/or lungs time to rest.

Transport Services

Maine’s only 24/7 Pediatric Critical Care Transport system is also coordinated through the PICU at BBCH. Within minutes of a call from a referring physician at another hospital, our pediatric critical care transport team can be dispatched to provide ground transport of critically ill infants and children within a 2-hour radius of Portland. The team utilizes two specially equipped ambulances – essentially PICUs on wheels – donated by the Children’s Miracle Network. When necessary, LifeFlight air ambulance also can be activated.

Transitioning from PICU to the Pediatrics Unit

When a child no longer requires intensive care they will be transferred from the PICU to the Pediatric unit at The Barbara Bush Children’s Hospital. The move from the PICU to the Pediatric unit can be a stressful time for children and their families, but this move is a positive step forward in a child’s recovery.

There are some significant differences between the PICU and the Pediatric unit because the care needs change.

What to Expect

  • Monitors on the Pediatric unit may differ from the PICU. Your child may not require continuous monitoring and may only require vital signs a few times a day.
  • Since your child’s health is improving, your child’s hospital doctor will change when transitioning from the PICU to the Pediatric Inpatient unit. The pediatric intensivist will communicate with the Pediatric unit doctor about your child’s medical stay.
  • Nurses on the Pediatric unit care for three to four patients at a time. Even though they are not at your child’s bedside, know your child is still being monitored and treated with the same level of care. Since the children in the Pediatric unit are not as critically ill, there are more visitors, and more activities. There may be more noise than you experienced in the PICU.
  • There is a kitchen available to families with items, such as juice, coffee, and crackers. The Pediatric unit has an activity room, Ronald McDonald Family Room, and Atrium for use of patients and guests.