Skip to main content
Provider giving young boy a high five

Cardiac Intensive Care Unit

US News Award - Cardiology & Heart Surgery
Provider giving young boy a high five

Children’s National Hospital is the region’s leading provider of critical care for seriously ill and injured infants and children. We offer the only pediatric intensive care unit (PICU) and specialized Cardiac ICU (CICU) in the greater Washington, D.C. area.

In our state-of-the-art Cardiac ICU, our team of pediatric heart specialists is dedicated to saving and improving the lives of our most vulnerable patients.

Our Providers

Our pediatric specialists provide personalized care for your child’s physical, mental and emotional health needs.

Tour the Cardiac ICU

Tour our state-of-the-art Cardiac Intensive Care Unit (ICU), the only specialized CICU in the region.

Critical Care Medicine at Children’s National

We designed our Cardiac ICU around a dual philosophy: a high-tech environment with a family-friendly feel. We believe that both of these aspects of our Cardiac ICU are vital to our patients’ well-being and long-term health.

Features of our critical care program include:

  • Round-the-clock physician coverage: We guarantee 24/7 in-house coverage from board-certified physicians every day of the year, with at least two physicians in our building at night. We do not use trainees for critical care coverage.
  • Latest life-support technology: Our physicians are experts in the most advanced technologies used today for respiratory, neurological and cardiac conditions. We have one of the country’s busiest programs for Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation (ECMO), including advanced training with rapid deployment ECMO.
  • Award-winning care: Both our PICU and Cardiac ICU have received honors for upholding the highest standards in care with the prestigious Beacon Award from the American Association of Critical-Care Nurses (AACN). We are the first hospital in the country to have two pediatric units receive the award simultaneously.
  • Advanced monitoring system. Each of our 26 cardiac care rooms has advanced monitoring technology. Near each patient’s bed is a screen displaying the child’s vital signs as well as the trends for the past 24 hours. Data collection and analysis is crucial to effective heart care.
  • Mobile technology. We designed our Cardiac ICU with mobile technology to adapt to our patient’s needs. If we need to set up a heart-lung machine or prepare for a surgery, we can reconfigure the room easily, without needing to move your child.  
  • Promoting healthy neurodevelopment. The heart and brain are intricately connected. Our cardiac and neurology departments work closely together to protect your child’s brain function during a heart procedure. Using technology such as near-infrared spectroscopy (NIRS) and extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO), we can ensure that we are doing the best for your child’s heart and brain.
  • Transport team. Sometimes, infants and children at other hospitals may require our expert, specialized care. Our experienced Transport Team helps move children from other hospitals to Children’s National.
  • Innovative triage system for babies. If we diagnose your unborn child with a heart condition, we assign a category depending on severity. Depending on the category, we will develop a personalized delivery plan with you. You may need to deliver at Children’s National, or you may be able to deliver at your local hospital and come to us after the birth.
  • Culture of safety. Our clinical outcomes and safety measures are among the best in the country. Our team has a weekly review of our processes to identify areas for improvement. A commitment to quality is a hallmark of our program.
  • Telehealth command center. The telehealth command center in our CICU uses cutting-edge technology to keep continuous watch over the most fragile patients with critical heart disease. It offers collaborative communication to help predict and prevent major events, like cardiac arrest. Watch the video to learn more about it

Family-Centered ICU at Children’s National

We understand how difficult it can be for families when a child requires care in one of our intensive care units. That’s why we emphasize compassion and comfort during this stressful time – in our facility and our approach to care. We offer:

  • Family-centered rounds. We include families during bedside rounds, when our team moves from patient to patient to discuss each case. We encourage you to participate and ask questions about your child’s care. We include all of the specialists working with your child – from physicians and nurses to any therapists, nutritionist, case manager or social worker involved in your child’s care.
  • Family access.  We are one of the few institutions that allows families to stay at all times – including during any procedures that do not require a sterile environment. In all other cases, family is welcome to stay at the bedside of a critically ill child.
President Biden visits Children's National Hospital

President Biden, First Lady Tour Cardiac Telehealth Command Center

President Joe Biden and First Lady Jill Biden paid a recent visit to the Cardiac Intensive Care Unit (CICU) at Children’s National Hospital, where leaders of our cardiology services toured them through the state-of-the-art telehealth command center embedded on the unit.

President Biden visits Children's National Hospital

Critical Care: Meet Our Team

Our in-house critical care team is a group of dedicated and specially trained experts in all areas of intensive care. We believe in high-quality and compassionate care for our patients and their families. Our team includes:

  • Cardiac intensivists, specialists in caring for children with critical cardiac disease
  • Pediatric cardiac anesthesiologists, available 24/7 to care for all of your child’s anesthesia needs
  • Pediatric critical care nurses
  • Dedicated pharmacist
  • Respiratory therapist
  • Nutritionist
  • Physical therapist
  • Social worker who follows each patient across the spectrum of care. Our social workers help patients and families navigate the healthcare experience and provide social and emotional support.

We also work closely with all specialists and surgeons throughout the hospital involved in your child’s treatment plan. We invite them to participate in our daily bedside rounds.

Meet the Team

Learn More about Critical Care at Children's National


Pediatric Cardiac Critical Care

The Pediatric Cardiac Critical Care Fellowship is a one-year advanced fellowship based at Children’s National Hospital, the capital’s only free-standing standing hospital with a dedicated state-of-the-art pediatric cardiac intensive care unit (CICU).

Exterior photo of Children's National Hospital's Main campus

Visiting Children's National

We’re here to help make your trip to Children’s National as easy as possible. Discover information about transportation and parking, visiting hours, where to stay during your visit, spending the night at the hospital and things to do in the area.

Children's National Heart Center: Specialized Expertise from International Experts

Children's National Heart Center is made up of many internationally-recognized leaders who provide specialized care and support for all facets of heart disease.

Transitioning from Our Cardiac Intensive Care Unit to the Heart and Kidney Unit

Learn about our Heart and Kidney Unit (HKU), where many of our cardiac intensive care patients are transferred as the next step of their treatment journey.