Big changes are transforming the pediatric intensive care unit at Novant Health Hemby Children’s Hospital— from the addition of eight spacious, private patient rooms, to the arrival of a team of doctors new to the PICU.

Located within Hemby Children’s Hospital in Charlotte, North Carolina, the PICU provides care for children of all ages with severe illnesses and injuries. A team of pediatric intensive-care trained doctors and nurses works closely with specially trained respiratory therapists, pharmacists, nutritionists and child life professionals to monitor patients 24 hours a day.

Although Drs. L. Eugene Daugherty, Erin Trakas and Emily Nazarian are new to the PICU, they have worked together for more than a decade. Before joining Novant Health, the trio worked side by side in the PICU at the University of Rochester Medical Center in New York.

Hemby Children’s Hospital and its comprehensive, state-of-the-art pediatric intensive care unit provide care to some of the most vulnerable children. That mission attracted these passionate physicians to join the Hemby Children’s Hospital team.

“I approach pediatric critical care from a whole-patient, whole-family perspective,” said Daugherty, medical director of the PICU. “I appreciate the puzzle that these complexities present, and I draw on both experience and new research to maintain the broadest medical view possible, working in tandem with any and all specialists relevant to my patient.”

The PICU team takes pride in its cohesive approach to care, taking into account the emotional, psychological, and family challenges that accompany critical pediatric illnesses.

“My choice to become a pediatric critical care physician was driven by my passion to care for the sickest children, while supporting all those who love them,” said Dr. Nazarian. “Having a team of providers who have worked together over the years offers families a sense of familiarity, comfort and consistency during trying times.”

Physicians dedicated to pediatric emergencies

In addition to the PICU’s specialized critical care, there is also round-the-clock emergency care available at Novant Health Hemby Children’s Emergency Department .

The emergency department stands out in the region for its 24/7 staffing by board-certified pediatric emergency medicine physicians. The nursing staff also works exclusively in pediatrics.

“You’re dealing with people who have really chosen and really dedicated their lives to taking care of kids,” said Dr. Joanna York, assistant director of the pediatric emergency department at Hemby. “We are all – first and foremost – pediatricians.”

Certified child life specialists comfort and calm worries

Hemby Children’s Hospital has a team of certified child life specialists whose main goal is to help ease the stress and anxiety your newborn, child or teenager may be experiencing while in the hospital. Our child life specialists see patients in the hospital, the emergency room, the PICU and at the St. Jude Affiliate Clinic at Novant Health Hemby Children's Hospital.

The child life specialists tailor their interactions to children’s specific needs. In some cases, the child life specialists will bring by a puzzle or a toy, and in other cases, they will help walk a family through what to expect during their child’s stay.

“There are countless procedures that I don’t really know how I would have done without the support of a child life specialist,” York said. “Having the child life specialist there singing songs or playing a game completely distracts the child, allowing me to do my job.”

A child-friendly atmosphere outfitted with the right equipment

Everything inside the hospital is designed with children in mind.

“We’re staffed with all of the equipment that would be needed to care for your child, whereas a regular emergency department may not have the smallest size catheter that’s needed,” York said. “That’s what we have because we deal exclusively with children, day in and day out.”

The children’s ER has tiny gowns to fit even the smallest patient, and the décor is uplifting and bright. Everything is under-the-sea themed, from the murals on the wall to the sea creature shaped beds.

The staff dresses the part, too. You’ll likely see team members wearing polka dots, floral print or cartoons on their scrubs.

A connection to MyChart for seamless patient care

Your child’s electronic medical records are available through MyChart, making it easy for all of your child’s doctors and specialists to be on the same page.

“As emergency medical providers, we have access to all of your child’s records and test results,” York said. “That is so extremely helpful.”

Bring your child to the emergency room or call 911 if he or she is experiencing the following:

  • Fever above 100.4 degrees in a newborn less than three months of age.
  • Sudden dizziness, weakness or change in vision.
  • Severe vomiting or vomiting of blood.
  • Bleeding that will not stop after 15 minutes of direct pressure.
  • Problems with movement or sensation after an injury.
  • A bulging or sunken soft spot in infants.
  • Falls from any significant height or from a bicycle/car accident.

Click here to learn about what to expect when you arrive. Call 911 if your child is non-responsive or for serious health concerns, such as difficulty breathing, severe pain and active seizing.