Pediatric critical care specialists at the University of Chicago Medicine Comer Children's Hospital are dedicated to managing the unique needs of critically ill children and their families. We understand that when your child is seriously ill, you want the best medical team available — around the clock — to speed your child's recovery, minimize pain and offer support and encouragement.

Our team provides multidisciplinary, patient-centered care for children with the following types of complex conditions:

  • Surgical disease and trauma
  • Heart-lung failure
  • Cancer and blood disease
  • Complicated diabetes
  • Life-threatening infection and sepsis
  • Liver failure
  • Kidney failure
  • Complex neurologic disease

At Comer Children's, experts in pediatric critical care work closely with medical and surgical specialists in cardiology, hematology/oncology, urology, gastroenterology, infectious disease, endocrinology, orthopaedic surgery and other subspecialties. This depth of experience means your child receives care from doctors who understand the needs of critically ill children and have a thorough understanding of your child's disease or injury, as well as the best treatment option. This also helps ensure your child's stable transfer and integration between units, such as from the operating room to the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU), or from the PICU to other pediatric units.

Each child's care team also includes a social worker who can answer your questions, provide emotional support to your family, address your financial concerns, and more.

Services Offered

Families of children with critical illness face great challenges, but finding comprehensive, compassionate care shouldn't be one of them.

Our critical care team offers a full range of services to diagnose, manage and treat life-threatening conditions. At the heart of our critical care services is the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU). The 30-bed PICU is located on the third and fourth floors of Comer Children's. Twenty-four rooms are private with in-room sleeping accommodations for families.

Parents of all patients are welcome to stay overnight with your child. Comer Children's Hospital also is home to a large Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU), where neonatologists and critical care specialists treat babies and infants with complex and serious medical conditions.

Our specialists have access to the most advanced technology to help support critically ill children. Some of the high-tech services we provide include:

  • High frequency oscillatory ventilation (a type of mechanical ventilation which utilizes a respiratory rate greater than four times the normal value)
  • Open lung/low tidal volume ventilation (lung protective ventilation) for respiratory failure and asthma
  • Extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO), a type of long-term heart-lung bypass
  • Nitric oxide for respiratory failure
  • Helium-oxygen mixtures for acute asthma patients
  • Complete dialysis services for children with kidney disorders

Experts in intensive care medicine partner with pediatric cardiologists and pediatric heart surgeons to deliver state-of-the-art cardiac care to children who require heart surgery or have serious heart conditions. Critical care doctors also play a vital role in supporting children who require bone marrow transplantation, neurosurgery, chemotherapy or other procedures.

At Comer Children's, pediatric sedation services are integrated into critical care medicine. We offer a range of sedation options for children undergoing diagnostic exams or surgical procedures. Our goal is to make your child as comfortable as possible and relieve any fear or anxiety while managing his or her care in a safe and effective manner.

Nurses specializing in intensive care, sedation and invasive procedures work seamlessly with critical care physicians leading the care team. In addition, child life specialists are available to help your child through developmentally appropriate play and education.

The Pediatric Comfort and Integrative Care Team helps to relieve symptoms and optimize the quality of life for children facing serious illnesses. Pain can be one of the most stressful parts of your child's illness. Our team offers a variety of methods to comfort your child and ease his or her distress. A physician and nurse practitioner will work closely with your family and the primary care team on quality of life decision-making, as well as pain and symptom management.

Contact Us

To reach pediatric critical care faculty or staff, please call Toni Payne at 773-702-3020.