The Medicine Intensive Care Unit (MICU) at Boston Children’s Hospital provides care to critically ill children with conditions that require close and constant monitoring. Our nurses, respiratory therapists, pediatric residents and fellows call on specialists from throughout the hospital as needed, while our attending physicians coordinate these specialists and direct the team taking care of your child.
We understand that a stay in the ICU can be frightening and stressful for both you and your child and recognize that many of the conditions, procedures and equipment used in the MICU may be unfamiliar, which can add to the stress of your child’s illness. Our MICU staff at Boston Children's will do whatever they can to help reduce this stress and uncertainty by ensuring that you are kept up-to-date about your child’s condition, and receive the information you need to make informed choices about his or her care.
The following FAQ sections are designed to help you better understand what takes place in the MICU. We are committed to achieving the best possible outcome for your child, and our staff will be happy to answer whatever questions you may have at any time of the day or night.
FAQs about Treatments
About 60 percent of children in the MICU have respiratory illnesses that might require mechanical ventilation. Although our specialists are strong advocates of noninvasive ventilation, they are trained to provide all forms of ventilation when it becomes necessary.
What is noninvasive ventilation?
Noninvasive ventilation is delivered via a mask that fits on your child’s face and delivers pressure that helps your child to breathe.
Common noninvasive ventilation techniques include:
- Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP), helps to keep the airways open and is commonly used as a treatment for obstructive sleep apnea (OSA).
- Bilevel Positive Airway Pressure machines (BiPAP), uses different levels of air pressure to help your child inhale and exhale.
What is mechanical ventilation?
Mechanical ventilation is used to treat respiratory failure (severe breathing problems). Mechanical ventilators are devices that stimulate the body’s normal breathing patterns by delivering a high-pressured flow of oxygen to into the lungs. Mechanical ventilation can be delivered either by an endotracheal tube, which is a tube inserted through the mouth or nose into the trachea (windpipe), or a tracheostomy which is a tube that is surgically inserted into the child’s trachea (windpipe).
FAQs about Visitation
If you are a parent or guardian, you can visit your child at any timeafter checking in with the front desk. Other family members and friends can visit during our regular visiting hours - noon to 8 p.m. We may limit the number of visitors by your child's bedside.
All visitors must stop at the information desk in the Main Lobby at Boston Children's and identify themselves and the patient they are visiting. All children visiting a patient must be supervised by an adult at all times. Children, 12 years and younger, will get a sticker that allows them to come up to the unit to visit the patient.
It is Boston Children's Hospital ICU policy that all parents, family members, and friends(first time or returning) check-in with the 11-South front desk every time before entering or re-entering the unit. This is done to ensure that the patient, nurse and unit are prepared for a visitor.
Up to two visitors are allowed at any time. We may further need to limit the number of visitors by your child's bedside if clinically appropriate.
Please tell your child's nurse of any visitor restrictions.
How do I get a visitor ID to visit my child?
Parents/Guardians/Grandparents - You will receive a yellow photo identification (ID) badge, which distinguishes parents and guardians from other hospital visitors. Only parents/guardians/grandparents are allowed to be in the hospital after 8 p.m.
Parent ID badges are given out at the front desk in the Main Lobby between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. daily. After 4 p.m., parents will be issued a temporary paper ID until the next day.
Information on our Parents ID system is available at the information desk in the Boston Children's Main Lobby.
Other Adults - Friends and family members who are suffering from, or have been exposed to, any contagious diseases, such as a cold or chicken pox, should not visit the hospital.
If friends and family members are healthy, they must check-in at the information desk in the Main Lobby at Boston Children's and identify themselves and the patient they are visiting.
Children/Siblings - Visitors under age 12 must be screened for exposure to any known contagious diseases, such as chicken pox or measles. Visiting children will be given a dinosaur sticker to be worn at all times when they are in the hospital to show they have been screened.
Do I have to wear a gown when I visit my child?
Some patients at Boston Children's need special protection from germs. Also, some children have germs that others can catch.
In these cases, staff and visitors may have to wear gowns - and sometimes masks - and pay special attention to hand washing. This is called "precautions."
To prevent the spread of germs, we also ask that you do not touch any child but your own.
Your child's nurse will explain precautions to you. If you have questions, ask your child's nurse to explain.
FAQs about your child's hospital room at Boston Children's
What will my child's hospital room be like?
The charge nurse will assign your child to their hospital room based on their needs. There are times your child may be moved to another room - sometimes even in the middle of the night - as patients' needs on the unit change.
Each bedside space has accommodations for one adult family member to sleep at night. Please place your chair in a position that gives nurses and doctors enough room to care for your child. There are sheets, pillowcases and towels provided on linen carts on each unit.
Please do not sleep or sit on any empty hospital beds. We keep these beds ready at all times.
If you need to leave your child's bedside - even if just for a moment - please raise the rails of the crib or bed completely to keep your child safe.
Vital signs are routinely at the doctor and nurse's discretion.
Can I stay overnight with my child?
Yes, you can stay overnight with your child in the ICP unit. Only one parent can stay overnight, however.
Chairs in most patient rooms fold out into cots. There are showers in each patient room for parents to use, and lockers and safes where you can secure valuables.
Contacting a nurse/emergencies
The call light is attached to the hospital bed on the TV control box. If you or your child needs a nurse, press the button labeled "nurse." The unit secretary will answer your call through an intercom system.
If you have an emergency, press the red staff emergency/staff assist button on the wall. The button is only to be used in an emergency!
How can I contact my child's nurse when I am not at Boston Children's?
When you are not at Boston Children's, please call 617-355-8700 to speak with your child's nurse.
Each bed space has a telephone number. To use the phone, dial 9 + 0 + Area Code + telephone number. You may need to charge calls if outside the local area. You can charge outgoing calls to your home phone or a phone credit card, or make a collect call. The phone company charges extra for all outgoing calls, including local calls. There is no charge for incoming calls.
Pay phones are near the elevators and a TTY Teletype is also available. Please ask your nurse to request one for you.
There are no phone calls in or out of your child's room after 10 p.m. Cell phones are only allowed by the elevators away from the medical equipment.
There are televisions and VCRs by the bedside. If you need a caption decoder, please contact your nurse. There is no TV charge.
The toilet in your child's room is for patient use, however family members can use them if the patient is not using it. We also have additional restrooms with bathing facilities located by the front desk/waiting room area.
Store personal items in the bedside cabinet or closet in your child's room. Never leave valuables, money or jewelry unattended - even for a short time. Boston Children's is not responsible for your valuables.
There are lockers in the rooms where you can store some belongings. You may bring your own lock or rent one from the information and reception desk in the Main Lobby. Each lock requires a $3 deposit that will be refunded when the lock is returned.
The kitchen on 11-south is stocked with limited drinks and snacks for patients only. You may store labeled food in the refrigerator here.
Boston Children's Engineering does not allow the use of any electric appliance brought from home. This includes televisions, laptops, radios and hairdryers.
Patients of all ages are welcome in the activity room, which is open Monday through Friday during the stay. If your child is unable to leave his room, the child life specialist can also find activities for him to do in his room. If you would like to view a video, for example, please contact the child life specialist or the secretary at the front desk.
FAQs about Amenities
How do we get mail and e-mail at Boston Children's?
Mail can be sent to your child. The address is: (Child's name), Unit name, Boston Children's Hospital, 300 Longwood Avenue, Boston, MA 02115.
Patients can also receive e-mail at email@example.com (Have the sender put your child's name in the subject line of the e-mail.)
Are there laundry facilities at Boston Children's?
Laundry machines are located on the first floor, Farley Building. Coin operated washing machines, dryers and soap vending machines are available for parents to use.
Patient and Family Resource Room
Hours: Open Monday-Friday, 8:30am-7pm and weekends, 11am-4pm.
Location: Hallway between 9 North and 9 West of the main building.
Our resource room is a gathering place for patients and family members. Some of the many resources include:
Materials available to borrow: Disease-specific books, leisure reading material, magazines, DVDs, children's books, and board games.