The Critical Care team provides personalized care.Parent to Parent: Tips For Your PICU Stay

Having a very ill or severely injured child is extremely stressful. But you aren’t alone in your experience. Parents of children who have stayed in UNC Children’s pediatric intensive care unit (PICU) offer the following tips and advice to help you feel more comfortable communicating with healthcare providers, seeking support, and managing expenses.


Communicating With Doctors & Nurses

• Talk with your child’s doctors and nurses about how you can share information and stay up-to-date on care discussions.

• Don’t hesitate to voice concerns. Feel empowered to speak up.

• Ask lots of questions. It’s OK to ask “dumb questions”—or to ask them again. You could discover something you’ve been missing.

• Write things down (questions, things you notice about your child, medications, etc.), so you don’t forget about them when healthcare providers come to your room. Keep notes about meetings with doctors, too—what was discussed, the details of your child’s condition, and questions for future meetings.

• When you’re away from the hospital, it’ OK to call in to your child's nurse any time—day or night—to ask how things are going. The PICU front desk number is 984-974-5491.


Participating in Rounds

• Family members are invited, but not required, to attend rounds—dedicated daily times for your medical care team discusses your child’s care plan.

• Rounds usually occur from 7:30 to 10:30 a.m. and 9:00 to 10:00 p.m. The medical team usually starts at one end of the PICU and works its way around in order of the rooms, spending several minutes with each patient.

• You won’t understand a lot of the medical terms. That’s OK. Write down your questions, and ask them at the end of the discussion or later when you can speak with a provider one-on-one.

• Stay focused on the big picture. Don't sweat what you do not understand.

• Read information provided to you about your child's condition or medical terms before rounds.

Finding Support

Finding Emotional & Financial Support

  • Ask your child’s nurse or case manager for information about local support services and groups, including any that provide financial aid to families with critically ill children.
  • Read blogs written by families in similar situations and/or keep your own blog. Wi-Fi is available outside of the PICU. Managing Health Care Expenses
  • Create a system for all of your health insurance and billing records.
  • Keep file folders labeled by category. For example: “paid,” “pending,” “correspondence” and “telephone contact.”
  • Date each piece of paperwork when you get it, and record all actions you take with that paperwork.
  • Keep copies of every billing document. Keep all documents for a specific visit or test together (for example: a bill, an explanation of benefits (EOBs), and a statement).
  • Keep a telephone log for all of your billing and insurance issues that includes:
    • Date of contact
    • Date of service
    • Name and phone number of the person you contacted
    • The result of the phone conversation and any follow-up action you need to take
  • Keep a record of non-reimbursable medical expenses, including car mileage, parking, meals, telephone bills, and lodging. These costs may be covered through Medicare or used as an itemized deduction when you file your income taxes.
  • Check to see if you qualify for medical assistance. Many families are eligible for some level of benefit.
  • Get detailed information about exactly what your health insurance covers. Ask questions if you’re unclear about coverage.
  • Keep a list of names and contact information of people who can help answer questions about medical bills and insurance. This can include:

Read tips and advice from other parents who’ve had a child in the PICU about ways you can care for your child and your family during this time.

Visitor Restrictions

Beginning November 14th, children age 11 and younger currently are not permitted in the Newborn Critical Care Center, Pediatric Intensive Care Unit, or Bone Marrow Transplant Unit at UNC Hospitals. Read more >>

Related Locations