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St. Luke’s University Network to open new pediatric care unit

St. Luke’s University Health Network plans to open a new, eight-bed Pediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU) at St. Luke’s University Hospital - Fountain Hill in early 2020.

The new unit is part of an expansion dedicated to improving pediatric health care in the region and providing advanced care to critically-ill children close to home. In addition to adding pediatric critical-care specialists, the expansion includes several new pediatric subspecialists and primary care physicians.

The unit will be equipped with the latest technology and staffed with pediatric critical care specialists (intensivists), available to care for children 24-7. St. Luke’s pediatric intensivists and nurses are specially-trained to be sensitive to the needs of children and teenagers who are experiencing critical illness or injuries.

“Last year, the St. Luke’s network of 10 emergency departments provided care to over 46,000 children, with over 200 of these children transferred from St. Luke’s to other organizations for PICU-level care,” said Glenn Stryjewski, MD, PICU medical director.

“When the new PICU is complete, these children and their families will be able to remain in the region and within the St. Luke’s network for high quality pediatric critical care,” Dr. Stryjewski said.

The St. Luke’s PICU will care for patients who require intensive physician and nursing care with continuous multi-system monitoring and advanced technologies such as mechanical ventilation and dialysis. PICU intensivists will collaborate with St. Luke’s pediatric specialists to manage care for children suffering from a variety of illnesses such as severe respiratory distress, infections, serious injury and heart disease.

The multidisciplinary unit will have a 2:1 nurse-to-patient ratio. Nursing stations will be positioned outside each patient room to allow for close patient monitoring. The unit will also be supported by social workers, physical therapists and nutritionists.

The opening of the PICU will allow the St. Luke’s Network to continue its growth and dedication to pediatric care by attracting new subspecialties to the Network. The department now spans 12 pediatric subspecialties and plans to continue its expansion through the recruitment of pediatric general surgery and pediatric orthopedics.

The new, eight-bed unit will be designed with spacious, private rooms with homelike amenities. Each room will have videogame connectivity, color-changing lights, books and toys for patients. St. Luke’s will also provide pet therapy and art therapy.

For parents and families who need to spend extended periods of time with their children in the PICU, rooms will be equipped with TV specifically for parents, access to washers and dryers, extra charging ports, showers and a sofa for an “at home” comfortable feeling.

“The support goes beyond the extra amenities. We understand that caring for a child in the PICU includes caring for the whole family. Parents and family members play an integral role in the care team and we welcome their involvement,” Dr. Stryjewski said.

“We are here to support patients and families and when it’s time to go home, our social workers will help ensure that patients are comfortable and connected with their primary care physician and any pediatric specialists needed for follow up. We look forward to expanding our services and continuing our tradition of providing high quality care,” said Dr. Stryjewski.