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Cardiac Intensive Care Unit (CICU)

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Our brand-new Cardiac Intensive Care Unit (CICU) was created with patients, families and caregivers in mind.

CICU triptych

What is the CICU?

The CICU is a distinct unit, staffed by a distinct team of providers, where babies, children, teens and young adults who are critically ill with heart problems are cared for by a medical team with special training and expertise.

Our CICU puts us in an elite class of children’s hospitals in the nation. Ours is the only pediatric CICU in the Pacific Northwest – the next closest is more than 700 miles away.

We offer the most specialized care and advanced technology available, including ventricular assist devices (VAD) and extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO), an advanced medical technology that provides heart and lung “bypass” when a child’s heart and/or lungs fail or need a rest.

Why does Seattle Children’s have a dedicated CICU?

Heart issues are very complex and can be life-threatening. Yet, in most hospitals, pediatric heart patients are cared for on a general pediatric intensive care unit by doctors and nurses who treat a wide variety of medical issues.

Having a dedicated team with advanced training and experience in caring for children with heart problems leads to better care and better outcomes – and a better experience for patients and their families.

Even the design of the CICU allows our team to care for patients more carefully. Our caregivers’ work stations are within steps of our patient rooms. This offers children and families the comfort of being able to see and contact their doctors and nurses when needed. Small, glass-enclosed conference rooms within sight of patient rooms let the care team watch each child even while meeting.

What’s special about the experience at Seattle Children’s?

Very few heart centers around the world offer dedicated pediatric cardiac intensive care services, and our program is unmatched in our region. Through our Extracorporeal Life Support Program, we provide lifesaving services – such as extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) when a child’s heart or lungs fail to function properly or need to rest.

Who is on our CICU team?

Caring for children who are critically ill with heart problems requires the skills and compassion of a variety of specialists. Our team is led by Dr. Harris Baden, a pediatric cardiac intensive care specialist, and includes:

  • Cardiac intensive care doctors
  • Cardiac intensive care registered nurses
  • Cardiac surgeons
  • Cardiologists
  • Social workers
  • Nutritionists
  • Respiratory therapists
  • Pharmacists
  • Cardiac intensive care and cardiology fellows who are training to be specialists

Our CICU team members all have pediatric cardiac critical care expertise and work together to make the best care plan for each patient. The team’s efforts are coordinated along the way.

What is it like on the CICU?

Being in the hospital with your child can be difficult. The 16 single-patient rooms on our CICU are designed to ease a family’s stay. Amenities include:

  • Room for two parents or caregivers to stay overnight
  • Private bathrooms for the patient
  • Two large private bathrooms with showers for parents on the unit
  • Refrigerators in the caregiver lounges for personal food
  • Small conference tables for medical consultations
  • A 42-inch flat-screen TV featuring Get Well Town, an interactive media system tailored to each patient, and a different TV for separate viewing by parents
  • Quiet rooms on each floor that provide a calm space away from the bedside
  • Caregiver lounges where patients and families can relax and prepare simple meals

Providing You the Best Options for Care

Children’s offers the most advanced expertise, treatments and technology available. Our team also works to improve care for children with complex heart issues.

Extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO)

Extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) is an advanced medical technology that provides heart and lung “bypass” when a child’s heart and/or lungs fail or need a rest during a severe illness or after heart surgery.

Our ECMO program received the Excellence in Life Support Award from the national Extracorporeal Life Support Organization (ELSO). The award – one of the highest honors for pediatric ECMO programs – recognizes our dedication to providing outstanding patient care and the highest standards of quality.

Ventricular assist devices (VADs)

We are pioneering the use of ventricular assist devices (VADs) in children with heart failure. VADs support or replace heart function as a bridge to recovery or heart transplantation.

Because Children’s offers many VADs – centrifugal pump, HeartMate, Berlin Heart and artificial heart – we can choose the device that best matches the child’s needs. We have a special focus on the use of VADs in children with complex congenital heart disease.

Read more about one patient’s experience with the HeartMate II portable VAD.

Heart transplantation

Our pediatric heart transplant center is one of the 10 busiest in the nation, and the only center in Washington, Alaska, Montana, Idaho and Oregon.

A child needing a transplant requires thorough medical and surgical care before, during and after transplant. Our team has three dedicated pediatric cardiothoracic surgeons, eight cardiac intensivists, four cardiologists with advanced training in the care of heart transplant patients and 32 other cardiologists with the specialized experience needed to successfully manage these children.

We Are Committed to Serving You

We’re committed to providing a healing environment to the patients and families we serve. When a family needs to be here, we don’t want them to worry about whether they are in the right place; we want them to focus on their child. The environment of our CICU and the compassion and expertise of our team allow them to do just that.

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