Cardiac Intensive Care Unit

Cardiac Intensive Care Unit CICU

Children’s National Health System is the region’s leading provider of critical care for seriously ill and injured infants and children. We offer the only pediatric intensive care unit (PICU) and Cardiac ICU in the metro area.

The Cardiac Intensive Care Unit at Children’s National Heart Institute offers the most advanced heart care in a family-centered environment. In the Cardiac ICU, our team of pediatric heart specialists is dedicated to saving and improving the lives of our most vulnerable patients. 

Critical Care Medicine at Children’s National

We designed our Cardiac ICU around a dual philosophy: a high-tech environment with a family-friendly feel. We believe that both of these aspects of our Cardiac ICU are vital to our patients’ well-being and long-term health.

Features of our critical care program include:

  • Round-the-clock physician coverage: We guarantee 24/7 in-house coverage from board-certified physicians every day of the year, with at least two physicians in our building at night. We do not use trainees for critical care coverage.
  • Latest life-support technology: Our physicians are experts in the most advanced technologies used today for respiratory, neurological and cardiac conditions. We have one of the country’s busiest programs for Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation (ECMO), including advanced training with rapid deployment ECMO.
  • Award-winning care: Both our PICU and Cardiac ICU have received honors for upholding the highest standards in care with the prestigious Beacon Award from the American Association of Critical-Care Nurses (AACN). We are the first hospital in the country to have two pediatric units receive the award simultaneously.
  • Advanced monitoring system. Each of our 26 cardiac care rooms has advanced monitoring technology. Near each patient’s bed is a screen displaying the child’s vital signs as well as the trends for the past 24 hours. Data collection and analysis is crucial to effective heart care.
  • Mobile technology. We designed our Cardiac ICU with mobile technology to adapt to our patient’s needs. If we need to set up a heart-lung machine or prepare for a surgery, we can reconfigure the room easily, without needing to move your child.  
  • Promoting healthy neurodevelopment. The heart and brain are intricately connected. Our cardiac and neurology departments work closely together to protect your child’s brain function during a heart procedure. Using technology such as near-infrared spectroscopy (NIRS) and extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO), we can ensure that we are doing the best for your child’s heart and brain.
  • Transport team. Sometimes, infants and children at other hospitals may require our expert, specialized care. Our experienced Transport Team helps move children from other hospitals to Children’s National.
  • Innovative triage system for babies. If we diagnose your unborn child with a heart condition, we assign a category depending on severity. Depending on the category, we will develop a personalized delivery plan with you. You may need to deliver at Children’s National, or you may be able to deliver at your local hospital and come to us after the birth.
  • Culture of safety. Our clinical outcomes and safety measures are among the best in the country. Our team has a weekly review of our processes to identify areas for improvement. A commitment to quality is a hallmark of our program.

Family-Centered ICU at Children’s National

We understand how difficult it can be for families when a child requires care in one of our intensive care units. That’s why we emphasize compassion and comfort during this stressful time – in our facility and our approach to care. We offer:

  • Family-centered rounds. We include families during bedside rounds, when our team moves from patient to patient to discuss each case. We encourage you to participate and ask questions about your child’s care. We include all of the specialists working with your child – from physicians and nurses to any therapists, nutritionist, case manager or social worker involved in your child’s care.
  • Family access.  We are one of the few institutions that allows families to stay at all times – including during any procedures that do not require a sterile environment. In all other cases, family is welcome to stay at the bedside of a critically ill child.

Critical Care: Meet Our Team

Our in-house critical care team is a group of dedicated and specially trained experts in all areas of intensive care. We believe in high-quality and compassionate care for our patients and their families. Our team includes:

  • Cardiac intensivists, specialists in caring for children with critical cardiac disease
  • Pediatric cardiac anesthesiologists, available 24/7 to care for all of your child’s anesthesia needs
  • Pediatric critical care nurses
  • Dedicated pharmacist
  • Respiratory therapist
  • Nutritionist
  • Physical therapist
  • Social worker who follows each patient across the spectrum of care. Our social workers help patients and families navigate the healthcare experience and provide social and emotional support.

We also work closely with all specialists and surgeons throughout the hospital involved in your child’s treatment plan. We invite them to participate in our daily bedside rounds.

Learn more about critical care at Children’s National:

Brayden's Story

"The world of congenital heart defects is scary, but to know that there are people like those at Children's National to help guide you along the way is very comforting."

Read More of Brayden's Story

Children's National in Your Neighborhood

A location marker

Did you know Children’s National has more than 50 locations throughout the region? Find one that’s convenient for your family.

Find a Children's Location Near You