Monroe Carell Jr. Children's Hospital at Vanderbilt
Monroe Carell Jr. Children's Hospital at Vanderbilt
Monroe Carell Jr. Children's Hospital at Vanderbilt
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Monroe Carell Jr.
Children's Hospital
at Vanderbilt
2200 Children's Way
Nashville, TN 37232

(615) 936-1000

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PICU Family Guide


The Pediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU) is a special part of the hospital where staff are trained to care for very sick children of all ages with medical, surgical, and traumatic conditions.

When your child comes into the PICU, we focus on immediate needs. The doctors and nurses will ask you questions about your child’s medical history and general health. The information you share will help your child get the best care possible.

We want you to be as familiar and comfortable as possible with our unit. Here is some information that may help.

What rooms are in the PICU and how can I reach the nurses’ desk?

There are two units in PICU. We call the units “neighborhoods.”

  • The Red Neighborhood is unit 5B
    Rooms 5413 through 5424
    Phone (615) 322-0928 (from any hospital phone, dial 2-0928)
  • The Yellow Neighborhood is unit 5C
    Rooms 5525 through 5536
    Phone (615) 936-4798 (from any hospital phone, dial 6-4798)

When are visiting hours?

Parents and Guardians
We do not think of parents and guardians as visitors, as you are a part of your child’s health care team. You will receive an ID band to show you are a parent or legal guardian. Be sure to wear your ID band at all times.

You may stay with your child during most procedures or life-threatening emergencies. Sometimes all parents and visitors must leave the unit because of procedures or patient privacy issues.

Two parents or family members aged 18 older can spend the night. If your child is feeling well enough, one of the two adult family members can sleep in the room. Each room has a pull-out chair. There are also pull-out chairs in the Family Center on the 5th floor. For patient and staff safety, visitors and family members cannot sit or sleep on the floor of the patient room.

The doors to the PICU are always locked for safety. Family members and visitors must ring the doorbell outside of each neighborhood to enter the PICU.

Visiting hours are from 7:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. each day. Up to three people at a time can be in your child’s room, unless the presence of visitors interferes with your child’s care or the care of other patients.

Children may visit after a short health screen and must remain with an adult at all times.

  • Your child’s health care team may decide to stop child and sibling visits due to the patient’s conditions or needs.
  • Before allowing a child to visit, think carefully about how he or she may feel about seeing a loved one who is seriously ill or on supportive equipment.
  • Visiting children must leave the hospital by 9:00 p.m.
  • A child life specialist may be available to help prepare children for a visit to the PICU and help them understand the hospital environment. Ask your child’s nurse to contact Child Life Services.
  • Do not bring children who have symptoms of illness such as fever, chills, cough, runny nose, sore throat, headache, or muscle or joint pain.

What happens in a typical day in the PICU? How can I help take care of my child?

You are an important part of your child’s health care team. We want you to be involved in his or her care, ask questions, and help plan for your child’s needs at discharge. As a parent, you have important knowledge about your child. Your special insight and ability to recognize small changes in your child is important. We hope you will share what you see with the PICU staff.

Throughout your child’s hospital stay, many health care team members will come in to care for your child.

Morning rounds
Your child’s health care team will make morning rounds. You can participate in rounds to learn and ask questions about the plan for the day.

Nurse shift change
At shift change, nurses share information about your child’s care. You can join in the conversation at shift change, which is typically at 6:45 a.m. and 6:45 p.m.

Can I post pictures, have flowers, or bring balloons in the room?

You may put drawings, pictures, and cards on the bottom part of your child’s door. Items must be laminated, or we can provide a plastic sleeve.

Only hospital signs can be posted on the top part of the door. This is to be sure we can see your child.

For the safety of your child, we cannot allow flowers in the unit. Only mylar balloons
are allowed.

What family conveniences are available?

Pagers are available while your child is in the PICU so we can reach you if needed. Please see the Guest Services representative to get a pager.

Your child’s room has a closet to store personal items. Please do not store any items in the waiting rooms. The hospital is not responsible for any lost or stolen items.

Waiting Rooms
You can step away from your child’s room and wait in the 5th floor Family Center or the Ronald McDonald Family Room. Please tell your nurse where you will be waiting and how we can contact you when you step away.

Quiet Rooms
The Quiet Room is a place where parents can step away from their child’s bedside to gather their thoughts. This is not a waiting area. Food is not allowed, although you can bring in a drink, as long as it is covered. Please keep noise low. There is a Quiet Room in each neighborhood.

Ronald McDonald Family Room
The Ronald McDonald Family Room is a place for parents, family members, and visitors from all units in Children’s Hospital to gather in a home-like environment. Snacks and drinks are available. The Family Room is open every day from 9:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m., when volunteers are available.

There are two shower rooms in the Family Center, open 7:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m.

The Laundry Room is in the Family Center, open 9:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. There is no cost to use this service. Ask a Guest Services representative for laundry soap.

Family Kitchen
You are welcome to use the Family Kitchen to prepare and store food. Be sure to label any food or drinks you put in the refrigerator with your name and the date. The refrigerator is cleaned out every Friday. Food not labeled is thrown away. The hospital is not responsible for lost or stolen food.

What sleeping arrangements are available?

Inside the hospital
There are sleeper chairs available in the Family Center on a first-come, first-served basis. The sleeper chairs may be used from 9:00 p.m. to 9:00 a.m. Sleeper chairs should not be removed from the waiting room. You may ask your child's nurse for linens for the sleeper chairs after 8:00 p.m. Place used linens in the linen bag located in the Family Center by 9:00 a.m.

There are also private sleep rooms assigned each night based each patient's condition and the distance their families live from the hospital. The medical receptionist will assign rooms and keys to families by 9:00 p.m. Check-out from sleep rooms is 9:00 a.m. Return your key to the medical receptionist in your child’s neighborhood.

No one under age 18 may spend the night in a sleep room, unless he or she is the parent or legal guardian of the patient.

Ronald McDonald House
The Nashville Ronald McDonald House is within walking distance of Children’s Hospital. It offers 32 bedrooms for families. A social worker can give you a referral to the Ronald McDonald House if you meet certain requirements. Limited shuttle service is available.

Area hotels and other facilities
Ask a Guest Services representative or social worker for information on low-cost, overnight lodging for parents and family members.

Can I take pictures or videos of my child?

You may take pictures of your child, as long as it does not interfere with patient care. Do not take pictures and videos of staff, activities in the room, or patients other than your child.

Taking video must be approved by your child’s nurse. A member of the health care team can tell you to stop taking pictures and video, if needed.

Other Helpful Information

Take care of yourself!
You need to take care of yourself during this stressful time. We encourage you to rest as much as possible and take breaks to eat. If you leave the unit, please feel free to call and check on your child.

Is it okay to receive support from other families in the hospital?
Meeting parents and family members of other patients can be a nice way to support each other. To protect your child’s and other patients’ privacy and to prevent spreading germs to one another, please meet with other families outside of the unit.

To keep hallways clear and safe for patient care, please do not gather outside of patient rooms to talk with other families.

If visits from others in the hospital are making you uncomfortable, please let your nurse know so we can help.

Family and friends can send an electronic note card to patients at Volunteers will print and deliver cards to the child’s room.

Cell phones may be used in the hospital. A free cell phone charging station is available during business hours in the Junior League Family Resource Center on the second floor.

No phone calls will be transferred to the patient’s room after 10:00 p.m.

When going to other areas in the hospital, please use the visitor elevators in the lobby. The Patient Transport elevators are for patient use only.

Can I donate blood?
For information on how to donate blood, please contact the Red Cross at (615) 327-1931.

Research is part of the mission of Children’s Hospital. We do research to make advances in medicine, discover new treatments, keep children healthy throughout life, and find cures.

You may be asked to have your child take part in a research study. Doing so is up to you and your child. If you decide you want to take part, and then change your mind, you can opt out at any time.

Taking part in research does not affect your child’s care. He or she will receive the best care possible.

Our goal for your child

Our goal is to give your child excellent care while at Children’s Hospital. If you have
any concerns, contact the charge nurse or a member of the health care team. You can
also complete a comment card, which you may find in the Patient Handbook and in the lobby by the 5th floor elevators.

Last Edited: June 1, 2016
Valued Participant of Vanderbilt Health Affiliated Network