Pediatric Critical Care

What is Pediatric Critical Care?

If your child has an illness or injury that results in an unstable or critical condition, a hospital-based pediatric critical care specialist (often called a pediatric intensivist) can be called on to provide the special care that your infant, child, or adolescent needs. Eastern Maine Medical Center has the only Pediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU) in the northern two-thirds of Maine and subsequently, our pediatric intensivists care for critically ill children who originate at any of numerous smaller hospitals around the state. Additionally, summertime brings a large volume of children and adolescents to Maine. When one of them experiences severe illness, they are frequently cared for in Eastern Maine Medical Center’s PICU. 

Some conditions that may cause your child to be medically unstable or critically ill include the following:
  • Severe asthma
  • Diabetic ketoacidosis
  • Seizure disorders and other complex neurologic conditions
  • An overwhelming infection, such as severe pneumonia or sepsis
  • Serious injuries from accidents (cars, bicycles, snowmobiles, ATV’s, etc.)
  • Near drowning or other environmental illnesses
  • Poisonings or overdoses

Children who are critically ill generally require meticulous monitoring in a PICU. Our pediatric intensivists coordinate their care with a specialized team of nurses, respiratory therapists, pharmacists, and other pediatric health care specialists. They use  specialized medicines and/or treatments, many of which can only be offered in a PICU.

What do Pediatric Intensivists at EMMC do?

Pediatric intensivists are doctors who have earned a medical degree, followed by at least 3 additional years in general pediatrics training.  After this, they complete an additional 1-3 years in a Pediatric Critical Care fellowship at a large academic medical center.

At EMMC, our pediatric intensivists treat children from birth through the teen years and often into their early 20s, depending on the specific situation. They have chosen to devote the core of their medical practice to caring for children who are very sick. Their advanced training and experience prepare them to give children in the PICU the unique medical care that they need.

What types of treatments will EMMC’s Pediatric Critical Care specialists provide?

At EMMC, the pediatric intensivists may provide any number of highly specialized interventions to deal with the consequences of severe illness or injury. These include:
  • Diagnosis of children who have unstable or life-threatening conditions, including those with previously undiagnosed diseases
  • Thorough monitoring, medication, and treatment of children in the Pediatric ICU (PICU)
  • Supervision of children on ventilators (“breathing machines”)
  • Medical treatment for children with severe heart and lung disease
  • Placement of special catheters in the blood vessels and heart
  • Management of medications and treatments for children with brain trauma

EMMC’s pediatric intensivists generally direct all the patient care in the PICU, but often work closely and collaboratively with other subspecialists at EMMC.  These might include:
  • Pediatric surgeons
  • Pediatric oncologists
  • Pediatric neurologists
  • Pediatric cardiologists
  • Pediatric orthopedists
  • Trauma surgeons
  • Pediatric infectious disease specialists
  • Neurosurgeons