Building Hope, Part 4: A closer look at the new Critical Care Unit

Life-threatening illness or injury can strike any child at any time. Seattle Children’s Hospital’s critical care medicine teams have the expertise and technology to treat the most fragile patients in the region, including those born prematurely, recovering from complex surgeries, or suffering from acute illness, chronic disease or injuries.

On April 21 the hospital’s Pediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU) and Cardiac Intensive Care Unit (CICU) will move to the Building Hope expansion. With a new home comes more space and new features that will help patients and families feel more comfortable while they are at Children’s.

“There are so many great new features in the critical care unit at Building Hope,” says Cathie Rea, ICU director. “We know our staff, patients and their families will find the new space a wonderful atmosphere of healing.”

New features in Building Hope’s Critical Care Unit

Besides the addition of more space, Building Hope offers new amenities for patients and their families, including:

  • Single-patient rooms: Single-occupancy rooms provide more privacy and space. Building Hope’s rooms will allow two family members to stay overnight in the room with their child. The rooms also will help reduce the transmission of viruses and infections by reducing exposure to other patients.
  • Windows between rooms: Between each pair of rooms is a window. This allows nurses to keep an eye on patients while in a different patient room. These windows can be covered with sliding message boards to create privacy when needed.
  • Pass-through cabinets: Medication and supplies will be delivered to patients via pass-through cabinets to reduce the chance of transmitting infections.
  • 360-degree care: Each room features two “booms” equipped with power and gas for equipment used by ICU patients. The booms can be moved to make space for machines, while still allowing for 360-degree access to patients. Rooms also have electronic pulleys to assist in lifting and moving larger patients.
  • Quiet rooms: Located on each floor, quiet rooms allow families and staff to step back, take a deep breath and have a moment to escape. These spaces have floor-to-ceiling windows for natural light and are free of intercom system and distractions.
  • Family lounge: This room is a place for families and visitors to relax, watch TV and cook a meal during their child’s stay in the critical care units. Each floor has a family lounge equipped with a refrigerator, microwave, TV, computer and printer.
  • Larger transport elevators: Spacious elevators can accommodate more than just a hospital bed, medical equipment and multiple staff. The larger elevators mean that parents can be at their child’s bedside every step of the way.
  • Room clusters: Patient rooms are clustered in groups of eight and have support items for every eight beds, such as automated medication cabinets and emergency equipment. This allows caregivers easy access and visibility.

Providing space for more critically ill kids with Building Hope expansion

Children’s strives to care for every child needing vital services, but there are times when the intensive care units are at capacity. That’s why expanding critical care facilities has been a priority in the first phase of the hospital’s expansion.

Since 2009, the hospital has had to turn away 734 critically ill patients who were transferred by air or ground from other hospitals in the region that depend on Children’s unique expertise and specialty care.

“The PICU and CICU are consistently at 90 percent occupancy, and we are constantly working to clear rooms to make space for new patients,” says Rea. “We never want to turn away children from our care.’’

The PICU and CICU will have 32 beds between the two critical care units when they move to Building Hope. Those extra beds will make a significant difference in reducing the number of patients who are diverted to other hospitals due to space constraints.

Preparing for Building Hope’s Critical Care Unit

More than 17,000 staff hours have gone into the planning and designing of Building Hope. “It has been a lot of work by a lot of people,” says Rea. “The building is what it is today because of the patients, parents, physicians, child life specialists, respiratory specialists, pharmacists, nurses, surgeons and so many other staff members at Seattle Children’s.”

Rea says staff will participate in multiple simulations and practice runs in order to acclimate to the new space and prepare to move patients into the new building on April 21.

Additional resources:

For more information on the critical care unit, please contact Children’s PR team at 206-987-4500 or at [email protected].