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Your Visit | Overview

The Medical Intensive Care Unit (MICU) at Boston Children’s Hospital provides care to critically ill children with conditions that require close and constant monitoring. Our nurses, respiratory therapists, pediatric residents, and fellows can call on the full range of pediatric medical and surgical subspecialists from throughout the hospital as needed, while our attending physicians coordinate these specialists and direct the team taking care of your child.

We understand that a stay in the ICU can be frightening and stressful for both you and your child, and recognize that many of the conditions, procedures, and equipment used in the MICU may be unfamiliar, which can add to the stress of your child’s illness. Our MICU staff at Boston Children's will do whatever they can to help reduce this stress and uncertainty by ensuring that you are kept up to date about your child’s condition and receive the information you need to make informed choices about his or her care.

The following section is designed to help you better understand what takes place in the MICU. We are committed to achieving the best possible outcome for your child, and our staff will be happy to answer whatever questions you may have at any time of the day or night.

About 60 percent of children in the MICU have respiratory illnesses that might require mechanical ventilation. Although our specialists are strong advocates of noninvasive ventilation, they are trained to provide all forms of ventilation when it becomes necessary.

What is noninvasive ventilation?

Noninvasive ventilation is delivered via a mask that fits on your child’s face and delivers pressure that helps your child to breathe.

Common noninvasive ventilation techniques include:

  • continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) helps to keep the airways open and is commonly used as a treatment for obstructive sleep apnea (OSA).
  • bilevel positive airway pressure (BiPAP) uses different levels of air pressure to help your child inhale and exhale.
What is mechanical ventilation?

Mechanical ventilation is used to treat respiratory failure (severe breathing problems). Mechanical ventilators are devices that simulate the body’s normal breathing patterns by delivering a high-pressured flow of oxygen to into the lungs. Mechanical ventilation can be delivered either by an endotracheal tube, which is a tube inserted through the mouth or nose into the trachea (windpipe), or a tracheostomy, which is a tube that is surgically inserted into the child’s trachea (windpipe).

What should I know about visiting my child in the MICU?

If you are a parent or guardian, you can visit your child at any time after checking in with the front desk. Other family members and friends can visit during our regular visiting hours (noon to 8 p.m.). We may limit the number of visitors by your child's bedside.

All visitors must stop at the information desk in the main lobby at Boston Children's and identify themselves and the patient they are visiting. All children visiting a patient must be supervised by an adult at all times. Children who are 12 years old or younger will get a sticker that allows them to come up to the unit to visit the patient.

It is the policy of the Boston Children's MICU that all parents, family members, and friends (first time or returning) check in at the front desk every time before entering or re-entering the unit. This is done to ensure that the patient, nurse, and unit are prepared for a visitor.

Up to two visitors are allowed at any time. We may further need to limit the number of visitors by your child's bedside if clinically appropriate.

Please tell your child's nurse of any visitor restrictions.

How do I get a visitor ID to visit my child/relative?

Parents/guardians/grandparents: You will receive a yellow photo identification (ID) badge, which distinguishes parents and guardians from other hospital visitors. Only parents/guardians/grandparents are allowed to be in the hospital after 8 p.m.

Parent ID badges are given out at the front desk in the main lobby between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. daily. After 4 p.m., parents will be issued a temporary paper ID until the next day.

Information on our parents ID system is available at the information desk in the Boston Children's main lobby.

Other adults: Friends and family members who are suffering from, or have been exposed to, any contagious diseases, such as a cold or chickenpox, should not visit the hospital. If friends and family members are healthy, they must check-in at the information desk in the main lobby at Boston Children's and identify themselves and the patient they are visiting.

Can I stay overnight with my child?

Yes, you can stay overnight with your child. Only one parent can stay overnight, however.

Chairs in most patient rooms fold out into cots. There are bathrooms in each patient room for parents to use, and there are lockers and safes where you can secure valuables.

How do I contact a nurse during an emergency?

The call light is attached to the hospital bed on the TV control box. If you or your child needs a nurse, press the button labeled "nurse." The unit secretary will answer your call through an intercom system.

If you have an emergency, press the red staff emergency/staff assist button on the wall. The button is only to be used in an emergency.

How can I contact my child's nurse when I am not at the hospital?

Please call 617-355-8117 to speak with your child's nurse.

Are there telephones in the rooms?

Each bed space has a telephone number. To use the phone, dial 0 + 1 + area code + telephone number. You may need to charge calls if outside the local area. You can charge outgoing calls to your home phone or a phone credit card, or make a collect call. The phone company charges extra for all outgoing calls, including local calls. There is no charge for incoming calls.

Pay phones are near the elevators, and a TTY Teletype is also available. Please ask your nurse to request one for you.

Are there televisions in the rooms?

There are televisions and DVD players by the bedside. If you need a caption decoder, please contact your nurse. There is no TV charge.

Where can I find a restroom?

The toilet in your child's room is for patient use, however family members can use it if the patient is not using it. We have additional restrooms with bathing facilities located by the front desk/waiting room area.

Where can I store valuables?

Store personal items in the bedside cabinet or closet in your child's room. Never leave valuables, money, or jewelry unattended — even for a short time. Boston Children's is not responsible for your valuables.

Is there a kitchen?

The kitchen on 11 South is stocked with limited drinks and snacks for patients only. You may store labeled food in the refrigerator here.

Are appliances permitted?

Boston Children's Engineering does not allow the use of any electric appliance brought from home. This includes televisions, radios, and hairdryers.

What is the activity room?

Patients of all ages are welcome in the activity room, which is open Monday through Friday during the stay. If your child is unable to leave his/her room, a child life specialist can also find activities for him/her to do in his/her room. If you would like to view a video, for example, please contact the child life specialist or the secretary at the front desk.

How do I speak with a chaplain?

The Department of Spiritual Care is a source of spiritual support for parents and family members. Our program includes nearly a dozen clergy members — representing Episcopal, Jewish, Lutheran, Muslim, Roman Catholic, Unitarian, and United Church of Christ traditions — who will listen to you, pray with you, and help you observe your own faith practices during your child’s treatment.

Is there a list of nearby accommodations?

This page on our patient resources site lists lodging options.

How do we get mail and email at Boston Children's?

Mail can be sent to your child. The address is: (Child's name), Unit name, Boston Children's Hospital, 300 Longwood Ave., Boston, MA 02115.

Patients can also receive e-mail at Have the sender put your child's name in the subject line of the email.

Are laundry machines available?

Laundry machines are located on the first floor of the Farley Building. Coin-operated washing machines, dryers, and soap vending machines are available for parents to use.