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Pediatric Intensive Care Unit

The Pediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU) serves critically ill children who need highly specialized care and continuous monitoring. Our patients include kids who are suffering from a life-threatening condition as well as those who are recovering from surgery.

Our doctors and nurses helped pioneer special techniques for treating children who are this sick, and we continue to deliver the highest-quality care, using the most advanced technologies available. Because of the level of care we provide, patients come to us from across the Western United States.

Many kinds of providers are involved in caring for our patients. The PICU team includes pediatric critical care specialists (pediatricians trained in treating very sick children), respiratory therapists, dietitians, pharmacists and social workers. Our patients also have access to a wide range of other pediatric specialists as well as physical therapists, occupational therapists and child life specialists, who comfort kids and help them adapt to being in a hospital.

Recognizing how stressful serious illness is for kids and their loved ones, we support families as much as possible during their child's stay and encourage parents and guardians to spend as much time as they can with their hospitalized child.

Why families choose us

Subspecialty expertise

Our patients have access to experts in more than 50 pediatric subspecialties here at UCSF Benioff Children's Hospitals, including neurosurgery, heart and lung surgery, orthopedics, general surgery, cardiology, pulmonology, hematology, oncology, and blood and marrow transplant. To provide the best, most thorough care possible, several types of doctors may participate in a patient's treatment.

Modern facilities

Our PICUs in both Oakland and San Francisco are modern, state-of-the-art and built to serve young patients and their families. From the large, sunlit private rooms that comfortably accommodate a parent's overnight stay to the uplifting artwork throughout the units, our facilities support rest and healing. They're also equipped with the most advanced technologies available.

Child-focused care

Our team focuses exclusively on caring for kids. Our equipment is child-sized, and we know the treatment protocols that work best for infants and children. Patient care in the PICU is always delivered in a developmentally appropriate, compassionate manner.

Expert support staff

We attract and retain exceptional critical care nurses and nurse specialists, and many of them have been with us for decades. Other key members of the team include respiratory therapists, dietitians, pharmacists and social workers.

Continuity of care

Thanks to our wide range of specialties and services, many PICU patients are able to receive whatever follow-up care they need within UCSF Benioff Children's Hospitals.

Our locations (2)

    Our team

    Awards & recognition

    • Ranked among the nation's best in 10 specialties

    Plan your visit

    Preparing for your appointment

    What to Bring

    • Photo I.D.
    • Health insurance card
    • Insurance authorization, if required
    • Doctor's referral, if required
    • Recent test results related to your child's condition
    • List of medications, including dosages, plus any your child is allergic to
    • List of questions you may have
    • Device or paper for taking notes

    For visitors

    Before you head to the hospital, check out our guidelines for visitors and caregivers.


    Your Stay

    We offer valuable information to help you plan for your child's upcoming hospital stay. Find out about food services, family accommodations and more.

    Learn more

    Your Child's Care Team

    Our doctors, nurses, child life specialists and other providers have special training to care for children. Meet your child's care team.

    Learn more

    Interpreter Services & Communication Assistance

    Interpreter services in many languages and TDDs are available for families that need help communicating with care teams. Here's how to access them.

    Learn more

    Support services

    Child Life Services

    Activity rooms, pet therapy and more to help kids feel at home.

    Child Life

    Certified child life specialists ease the stress and anxiety of childhood illness through therapeutic play, schooling and family-focused support.

    Family Amenities

    Family-friendly amenities help you relax and take care of yourself while staying close to your child. We offer lounges, kitchens, showers, breastfeeding rooms and more.


    Social Services

    Social workers ease the effect of illness, injury and hospitalization on your family with counseling and assistance to help you navigate the challenges.


    Activity Rooms

    Activity rooms offer a relaxed environment for children of all ages. Features include a playroom, digital arts studio and teen lounge. Find out more.


    Art Therapy

    Art therapy helps kids and families express themselves, making it easier to cope with pediatric health issues. Group and bedside services are available.


    Music Therapy Program

    Board-certified music therapists help kids cope with illness and the feelings that come with it. Find out about group activities and bedside therapy.


    School Program

    Our schoolroom services and individual learning programs help children hospitalized at UCSF continue their education and get ready to return to school.


    School Re-Entry Program

    After hospitalization, we help kids return to school by educating staff and students about their needs and recommending needed accommodations. Read more.


    Individual Playtime & Instruction

    If your child can't be around other kids for medical reasons, you can sign up for private sessions in our activity and school rooms. Find out how.


    Interpreter Services & Communication Assistance

    Interpreter services in many languages and TDDs are available for families that need help communicating with care teams. Here's how to access them.

    Family Resource Center

    We help families cope with the challenges of childhood illness and hospitalization in a relaxing environment where parents can get a much-needed break.


    Parent Support Program

    Weekly activities, including knitting, scrapbooking, chair massage and more, help family caregivers get a much-needed break. Find out more.


    Patient Relations

    Patient relations reps and nursing supervisors are here to answer questions and address concerns. Learn about your rights, how to reach us and more.


    Spiritual Care

    Chaplains help UCSF patients, families and staff cope with the spiritual and emotional challenges of childhood illness. Learn more.


    International Services

    If you're coming to UCSF from outside the U.S., we coordinate your child's appointments and provide other helpful services. Here's how to get started.

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    Feeling at home

    From bedside bingo to therapy dogs, we're here to help kids smile and feel more like themselves.

    Visit Child Life services