Critical Care

BBCH is home to the state’s largest and most comprehensive pediatric critical care program, including 8 single-bed private room, pediatric intensive care unit (PICU) staffed 24/7 by an expert team of pediatric critical-care physicians, nurses and other specialists.

This experienced team provides an exceptional level of carefully coordinated care for young patients with acute critical illness, serious injuries from accidents, burns, severe neurological illness or injury, organ failure and those who have undergone complex surgery. We understand the stresses put on parents and other family members when a child is critically ill, and see our role as not just as taking care of a critically ill child but also the entire family. Whenever possible and appropriate, family members are included in daily rounds with the care team, so they can ask questions and get answers about their child’s condition and progress.

Program Highlights

  • A higher nurse to patient ratio than the general pediatric unit of the hospital to ensure constant monitoring and care for each young patient
  • Full range of sophisticated equipment to monitor heart rate, blood pressure, respiration (breathing) and neurological (brain) functions all forms of diagnostic imaging technology and fast and comprehensive lab testing
  • We use a continuous EEG (electroencephalogram), a sophisticated way to look at brain activity in patients who are minimally conscious or comatose
  • The most advanced forms of mechanical ventilator (breathing) support including life-saving extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO)

Conditions Treated

We provide care for children with serious or life-threatening conditions affecting all the body’s major organ systems, and we provide postoperative care for a broad range of surgical subspecialties, including after heart surgery and kidney transplantation. Among the most common conditions we see are:

  • Respiratory failure (severe breathing problems)
  • Sepsis (blood infection)
  • Congenital heart disease
  • Trauma (such as severe head injury)
  • Acute organ failure
  • Seizures
  • Complicated pneumonias
  • Diabetic complications
  • Critical illness following chemotherapy, radiation therapy or bone marrow transplantation
  • Severe infectious disease, such as meningitis or encephalitis
  • Burns
  • Poisoning

Transport Services

Maine’s only 24/7 Pediatric Critical Care Transport system is also coordinated through the PICU at BBCH. Within minutes of a call from a referring physician at another hospital, our pediatric critical care transport team can be dispatched to provide ground transport of critically ill infants and children within a 2-hour radius of Portland. The team utilizes two specially equipped ambulances – essentially PICUs on wheels – donated by the Children’s Miracle Network. When necessary, LifeFlight air ambulance also can be activated.