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Growing together: New PICU built around family-centred care

Michelle Bisaillon was critically ill at age 14 with complications from acute myeloid leukemia. She spent four weeks in the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU) at McMaster Children’s Hospital in Hamilton, and, at times, her parents weren’t sure if she was going to make it through.

Now 21, Michelle will readily say there were dark days. But there was light. These four weeks were life-changing and directed her future.

“My time spent in the pediatric intensive care unit included some of the worst, but also some of the best days of my life,” says Michelle. “The experiences my family and I had here were never had alone. We cried and laughed with the nurses, doctors, and the families around us, and will never forget the physical and emotional support we received from everyone on the unit.”

McMaster Children’s Hospital celebrated the official opening of its new Michael G. DeGroote Pediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU) on June 14, 2012.

The new, state-of-the-art facility was made possible by a generous $10 million donation by Michael G. DeGroote and is financially supported by the government of Ontario.

“This represents another great milestone in the tremendous growth of McMaster Children’s Hospital,” says Dr. Peter Fitzgerald, Children’s Hospital President. “This spectacular new unit will play a vital role in our region.”

Nine former patients and their families attended the grand opening event to celebrate and share their stories of tears and laughter from time spent in the PICU. Although the paths that led each child to the unit were unique, their stories of care by the staff and physicians who work there were unified in the focus on family-centred care.

For Michelle, that level of child and family-focussed care directed her future toward helping other children get the same level of medical and emotional care. Now in her second year of sociology at McMaster University, her goal is to be a social worker at McMaster Children’s Hospital.

Family-centred care is built into the design of the new unit. Each room is spacious and private, providing room for family at bedside in what is most often a difficult time. The family-centred care extends to other spaces in the unit: two family lounges, one overnight family room and one private family room adjoining an intensive care room.

“It’s good to know that this new unit will make such a difference to so many families in the future, who will need the best care from the best people in the best facility possible,” says Mr. DeGroote.

Nearly 600 children require the critical care of the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit annually and the numbers have been growing. McMaster Children’s Hospital is the sole provider of intensive care for the sickest and most injured children in its region. It serves a population of about 600,000 children in an area spanning Kitchener to Niagara, Brantford to Burlington.

About the new Pediatric Intensive Care Unit

•    Regional centre for Pediatric Intensive Care for a children ages 0 -17, serving a population of about 600,000

•    Provides intensive care for complex, rapidly changing medical, surgical and traumatic disorders

•    Intensive care involves: ventilators, round-the-clock continuous life-support monitoring

•    Staffed by a specialty team of pediatric intensivists, specialized children’s critical care nurses, respiratory therapists, social workers, child life specialists, chaplains, physiotherapists, dietitian, pharmacist, pharmacy tech and occupational therapists


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