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Pediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU)

Critical Care from Skilled Medical Experts

Some children need extra attention and special care in the hospital. These patients are critically ill or injured. They receive constant help and special treatments in the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU) at East Tennessee Children's Hospital. Many children in the PICU are on different forms of life support until their bodies can heal. The PICU staff is trained to work with any child in need of critical care.

Pediatric critical care is used when a child is seriously injured from an accident or has severe asthma, a risky infection or another condition that needs careful watch. Pediatric critical care specialists are experts in reducing children's fears throughout the treatment process. They work only with children, so they know how to talk to parents and make the hospital less scary for patients. All of the medical equipment in this department is designed just for children.

Staying at the East Tennessee Children’s Hospital PICU

Pediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU)

There is no typical PICU patient or story. Children in the PICU may have a chronic illness or may have never been in a hospital before. The PICU staff is trained to work with any child in need of critical care.

The PICU has 14 beds. Each nurse is assigned to only one or two patients. Your child's treatment is planned by five children's critical care physicians and three critical care nurse practitioners.

The nurses are at your child's bedside during their entire shift. They provide total care to the patients. This includes feeding, bathing and giving medications. The doors of each room are glass, so you can get the attention of PICU staff easily. If you want privacy, you can pull a large curtain in front of the glass.

The PICU staff at Children's Hospital knows how tough it is for your child to be in the hospital. They want you to be present in the hospital rooms and to ask questions about your child's care. Each nurse is comfortable doing medical tasks in front of family members.

Indianna's Story

Indianna GravesWhen 14-year-old Indianna Graves recalls her time at East Tennessee Children's Hospital, she doesn't focus on missing three weeks of summer vacation or multiple blood and platelet transfusions. Instead, she remembers the people.

Learn more about Indianna


The PICU staff at Children's Hospital has the highest percentage of advanced certifications in the hospital. They are experts in children's medical needs.

Our PICU physicians spend shifts checking in at the bedside of your child and will answer any questions that your family may have. All of our PICU staff aims to build relationships with patients, parents and siblings.

The PICU works closely with home health care and other Children's Hospital departments. A PICU patient's journey to healing can involve many specialties. All of our Children's Hospital doctors are highly-trained to work specifically with children.

Focusing on Children

The PICU does have medical equipment and beeping machines, but Children's Hospital has made it a place for children to feel comfortable. Your child can choose from a movie cart with popular children's movies to watch in their rooms. Also, HABIT dogs come to children who want some comfort from a gentle four-legged friend. The PICU is colorful, clean and private.

We see many families coming in time and again to receive treatment for chronic illnesses. Over time, we build relationships with these patients. These families know first-hand that our staff cares about the safety and well-being of our patients and their loved ones.

Pediatric Critical Care Transport Service

Lifeline Ambulance

The Pediatric Critical Care Transport Team is staffed by specially-trained PICU nurses and respiratory therapists with a supervising physician. This team transports children who are very sick from area hospitals that do not specialize in pediatric care to East Tennessee Children’s Hospital. This allows your child’s pediatric-specific care to be started from the minute the transport team arrives at the facility. Children's Hospital's Lifeline ambulances are custom-made neonatal/pediatric transport vehicles equipped like mobile intensive care units and have the equipment to transport your child safely, from birth to 21-years-old.

Pediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU)

Nurses Station - (865) 541-8104