Facebook Pixel Code
image of baby
Critical Care Medicine

Patients and families

About Us  |  Being Prepared  | The Team  |  Patient Care Rounds  |  Daily Routine in Critical Care  |  Larissa Atrens-Mikan Critical Care Family Room  |  Places to stay  | Family presence and visitors  |  Education and research  |  Supports


About the Critical Care Unit

The critical care unit is open 24 hours a day 365 days a year. Our mission is to serve critically ill children with the highest level of expertise, grounded in knowledge, dedication and compassion.

Our vision is to be the critical care experts leading in research, education and clinical care.

In the PICU / CCCU we provide family-centered care and we look forward to working with you and your child. This information is intended to help patients and families by answering common questions and outlining some routines and procedures unique to the PICU/CCCU. For general information about the hospital and services available to you, please read the SickKids Family Guidebook. We will refer to the PICU/ CCCU as CCU throughout the following information. 

Being prepared

Being in the CCU is different than being in a regular hospital ward. The intensive care environment and the experiences of parenting a critically ill child can be challenging. Your child may look very different with all the monitoring and care equipment surrounding him or her. There may be swelling, skin tone differences and your child will likely not be wearing pajamas. Your child may also act differently, depending on his or her age and how awake he or she is while in PICU. Your child may be very sleepy or unusually restless.

Your bedside nurse and the other members of the team will help you to understand these changes and help you to anticipate what will happen next for your child. We recognize that you are the expert about your child and need you to help determine your child’s needs with us. Together we can make sure your child is comfortable, rests well and is supported toward recovery every step of the way. Please ask questions about things that you notice are different about your child and about CCU care.

The team

Because your child requires specialized care, a number of different health-care providers will be involved with your child’s care. The CCU team includes many dedicated health-care professionals focused on the care of critically ill children. You and your child may work with one or more of these professionals as required during your child’s CCU stay. The CCU team will also coordinate and communicate with your child’s other doctors and team members during your time in CCU. Read more about the team.

Patient Care Rounds

Patient care rounds are an important part of the education process for health-care professionals. The CCU care team conducts bedside rounds on every patient twice each day. During rounds, the team reviews the progress of each child and clinical management goals.

Morning rounds take place at 7:30 a.m., Monday through Friday, and at 9 a.m. on weekends. Afternoon rounds take place at 4 p.m. Afternoon rounds are held a bit earlier on weekends. Patient Care Rounds are not at always held at the same time every day. Please consult your bedside nurse about the rounds planned for that day.

You may attend Patient Care Rounds for your child. However, you will be asked to step out of the room while the team discusses the care of the other children in the room. These rounds are not intended to deliver information to parents or family members. Care decisions made during rounds will be reviewed with you individually by your child’s doctor and nurse after Patient Care Rounds are completed in the unit. At this point any questions or issues you would like to explore can be addressed fully.

Daily routine in Critical Care

Entering the unit

Before you enter the CCU to be with your child please dial 6486 (CCU reception desk) using the phone in the Larissa Atrens-Mikan Critical Care Family Room. The Larissa Atrens-Mikan Critical Care Family Room is located on the second floor directly outside the entrance to the CCU.

You must call before entering the CCU to ensure no one interrupts a sterile procedure or other treatment that may be taking place in your child’s room. If there is a delay, you will be told the reason and how long you can expect to wait. In shared areas of care, this ensures privacy and respect for the care of each child and their families.

Every time you enter or leave the unit you will be required to wash your hands with the hand sanitizer provided at the entrance to your child’s room and at the entrance to the unit. Please verify with your child’s nurse to find out if you need to wear protective clothing, such as a gown, mask or gloves before going into the room.

Patient care

Every day a fellow will be assigned to your child’s care and they will work with your child’s nurse and staff physician to ensure all your questions are answered. Let the bedside nurse know if you have questions or issues to discuss. The nurses will arrange for the right person to meet with you.


Sometimes procedures need to take place in the CCU. Some of these procedures are planned and some are emergencies. If a procedure is happening to another child in your child’s room we will ask all family members of the other children to wait outside the room. If your child is having a procedure while in CCU, you can discuss with your nurse how we can help you in supporting your child during the procedure. Each situation is different and a plan for the procedure can be made ahead of time.

You can call day or night

When you are at home or outside SickKids, you may phone the CCU at 416-813-6486 and speak directly with your child’s nurse for progress reports. Information will be given to parents or legal guardians. If we cannot come to the phone, someone will explain why. We will call you back as soon as possible. In order to ensure communication between nurses at change of shift (7:15 a.m. and 7:15 p.m.) we ask that you delay calling if possible. Calling after 8 a.m. or after 8 p.m. will allow the arriving nurse and other members of your child’s CCU team to become familiar with your child and provide you with timely information.

Larissa Atrens-Mikan Critical Care Family Room

This family room is open 24 hours a day. It has seating and lockers for smaller personal items. A telephone with direct access to the CCU is available for your use. There is a large cafeteria and dining area to accommodate families and their visitors. Larger groups may visit in that shared area. This shared area is used by many families with children in critical care, so please help us keep it clean and tidy.

Places to stay

If you will be sleeping overnight in the Larissa Atrens-Mikan Critical Care Family Room please remember that this is a shared space. Linen is available in the cupboards in the Family Room for your use. A limited number of parent sleep rooms are available on a nightly basis. Please speak with the CCU information coordinator in the morning if you are interested in using one of these rooms. Please vacate your room by 8 a.m. the following day.

Other resources include our new 4th floor Ronald McDonald House Family Room and discount hotels.

Visit Nearby Accommodations for more options.

Family presence and visitors

Children recovering from critical illness are highly susceptible to infectious illnesses. Sleep and rest is necessary to recovery. For these reasons, we limit the number of family members visiting at one time to a maximum of two people.

We welcome parents, grandparents and other adults who are close to your child. Brothers and sisters must be 12 years of age or older to visit. Siblings under 12 years of age may visit only under special circumstances. Speak with your nurse if siblings want to visit.

Space at each bedside is limited and the equipment used to treat your in CCU can be large. The charge nurse may need to restrict visits under special circumstances. You will be informed when this occurs.

Family members need to wait outside the CCU area during change of shift report and Patient Care Rounds. You might use that time to attend to your personal and other family needs.

Visitors to CCU must not have cold, flu or other infectious symptoms. Visitors must not have been in contact with others with a contagious illness. Please read the SickKids Family Guidebook for more information.

Education and research

We see research and teaching as part of our commitment to the care of critically ill children.

While in the CCU you may meet research staff and be asked if you would like to be in a study. This decision is completely yours and participation is optional. You will be given all the information needed to make the right decision for your child. Participating in research is not for every child. We will respect your decision. Research coordinators are available at any time to speak with you about research studies.

You will also see health care education activities in the CCU. Students will be working with the CCU team at various times. You may observe simulation activities where the team practices procedures and skills on a doll.


Finding a balance between the need to be with your child and meeting your needs and the needs of other family members can be very challenging. There are many resources and professionals available to help you to achieve this balance for you and your family. Ask about these resources.

In addition to your child’s nurses and doctors, you can speak with social workers, advanced practice nurses, chaplains and child life specialists, all of whom have special expertise for families of children in the CCU.

Take good care of yourself. Your sleep and rest are important. Rest as much as you can and eat properly.

Back to top