What to Expect When Your Child is Admitted to the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit

At Cincinnati Children's, we understand it can be incredibly frightening when your child needs a high level of care for a critical health condition. The caregivers in our Pediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU) are specially trained to ease your child's anxiety and help you and your child feel as comfortable as possible.

Preparing for your visit to the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit

If you know that your child will be staying in the PICU following a scheduled procedure or in anticipation of one, please make sure to pack the following items to bring with you to the hospital:

  • Your insurance or medical card
  • A record of all medicines and dosages your child takes regularly
  • Proof of guardianship for a court-appointed guardian

Items for your child

We will supply diapers, hospital gowns, pajama bottoms and slipper socks. But personal items are important to children in the hospital. You may want to bring:

  • Special comfort item (such as a bottle, book, toy or blanket)
  • Special photo or photo album
  • Containers for glasses, contact lenses, hearing aids

For many families, a stay in the PICU is not planned or anticipated. Please do not worry — we are prepared to support your child and your family throughout your admission with anything you may need.

Your Team

While your child is staying in the PICU, they may receive care from a wide variety of doctors, nurses and other specialists.

Your Child is in Good Hands

We understand that while your child is in the hospital, you may need to leave the bedside for periods of time. Our staff will help you find the best option for ensuring you can be reached at a moment’s notice, and ensuring you are updated on your child's ongoing care.

After Your Stay in the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit

When your child no longer requires critical care level support, they will be transferred to a different floor in the hospital for further care before we eventually discharge them home. In the rare case that we send them directly home, our team of skilled Care Managers will help to ensure your transition is as smooth as possible. As part of your child's health care team, you will participate in transition planning and will learn about any care your child may need eventually at home.

Your care team will discuss transition plans with you. Feel free to ask questions, such as:

  • What goals does your child need to meet to be transferred to a different floor?
  • Can the team predict when transfer will happen?
  • What eventual preparations will you need to make for when you are able to head home?

We suggest you write down your questions as you think of them.

If your child's hospital stay is short and uncomplicated, planning for transfer and eventual discharge is a simple process. If the hospital stay is longer and more complicated, you may need to make special arrangements. We will help you every step of the way:

  • If your child needs medicine at home, you can fill prescriptions in the hospital pharmacy, or we can fax them to your pharmacy before you leave.
  • If your child needs special equipment or visits by a homecare nurse, we'll provide a list of homecare companies approved by your insurance. We'll work with you and the company you choose to make sure you have the equipment, supplies, medicines and support you need.
  • We will provide training to help you feel confident that you can go home safely, and that you know how to perform treatments or procedures your child might need at home.