Small Steps to Improving the Quality of Life in the CICU


Wherever the art of Medicine is loved, there is also a love of Humanity. ~ Hippocrates

Eight months ago, I walked into the hospital for a routine induction of labor. Ten days later, I walked out with a new c-section scar, a bag full of anti-hypertensives, and without my son, who remained in the NICU after a traumatic birth. For the first time, I was a patient AND an ICU parent. And let me tell you, it was terrifying, exhausting, and confusing, even for me.  All is (physically) well now, but the personal and professional impact of that experience remains.  But I can’t help but think, if this was this difficult for me, what about our patients? What about the parents who don’t have the same medical background, and don’t understand why they are left to feel as if their child is not their own? What about the patients who have constant disruptions to their nights and are relegated to their beds for days to weeks?  And what about the families who are traumatized by an experience few truly understand?

Add to that, we are nearly 2 years into this pandemic, and it seems that life in the hospital has changed for the foreseeable future.  Visitors continue to be significantly restricted, in-person ancillary services remain limited, and the lower half of our faces have yet to be seen by many.  For these and many other reasons, our patients, their families, and our staff have stress levels through the roof.

In our field, we are so fortunate to be able to focus on complex physiology, novel treatments, and helping the sickest of the sick survive.  But what better time than now to consider how we can help our patients and families not only survive, but also thrive.  I’m so excited to bring you a newsletter edition showcasing how some of our colleagues and friends are doing exactly that.

We have a guest editorial from two of the leaders in ICU rehabilitation medicine and delirium prevention– Sapna Kudchadkar and Sean Barnes – that will make you think twice before you keep your patient down and out for another day.  Kiona Allen and Amy Lay give us a wonderful view of what is happening at Lurie Children’s to make the unit more inclusive, accommodating, and comfortable for all. Amy Jo Lisanti from CHOP shares with us a powerful and thought-provoking opinion piece on how we might strengthen the bond between patients and their families, even in the ICU. And finally, Jenn Hinkle, a CHD mom, and her colleague Sydney Philpott-Streiff share the important work of the Ollie Hinkle Heart Foundation, aimed at improving the mental health of all that encounter the CVICU. And as always, this edition contains several exciting PCICS committee updates and an executive message from our PCICS secretary, Darren Klugman.

I know this is not your typical PCICS newsletter, but I sincerely hope it inspires everyone to think outside the (heart) box.  The work we do is so powerful, but it doesn’t end with the physiology.



Meghna D. Patel, MD

Associate Editor, PCICS Newsletter
Cardiac Intensivist, Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital
Clinical Assistant Professor, Stanford University
Palo Alto, CA, USA