MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – The Pediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU) at WVU Medicine Children’s does not see the most patients of any department, but it stays busy saving lives.
“The PICU is the unit, the area where we take care of the sickest babies and children; whether it be they are sick from an infection, or sick from a surgery or sick from an accident, like a car wreck,” Dr. Chuck Mullet said.
Mullet is a physician in the department, which he also chairs. He describes the PICU as a department full of dedicated nurses, pharmacists, doctors and others who are all well trained and highly dedicated.
These skilled individuals work as a team, with a common goal in mind. That goal is to make sure they provide the best possible treatment for any patient who comes into the PICU.
“I am super grateful. It is—it is a fun place to work, even though we are working so hard. 24/7, 365, every weekend, every holiday, every night shift, every Christmas Eve, we’re all there with the lights on doing our thing. It’s such a great team, everybody pulling together for one common cause.”Dr. Chuck Mullet – Chair of Pediatrics, WVU Medicine Children’s
Although the goal is to save children and send them home healthy, that is not always the reality.
Not every story, the pediatrics chair said, ends happily.
“And that’s another part of our job,” Mullet said. “We work with the family, the parents, the grandparents, help get them through what is sometimes the roughest part of their life, their experience. So, we have developed expertise in that, as well, and we’re here for that.”
A team of dedicated and highly-trained individuals working around the clock to save children’s lives is what some would call heroic.
But that’s not how Mullett and his team perceive themselves.
“We’re not heroes,” Mullet said. “We’re just here to do our job and to take care of the kids and get them turned around and back home. But, it’s important work. It’s the thing that drew me to this work. It’s so important, right? It’s like life or death, right? We have the opportunity to make a huge impact and turn around a kid, bring them back from the brink and get them well and on their way home.”
“As I’ve matured and gotten on in years, that’s one of the most important things that I think that we do.”
Caring for the patient and making sure the families are also cared for is where the PICU’s attention lies. Mullett said employees are more focused on positive health outcomes than their own self-glorification.
That’s exactly the same type of mindset the staff members plan on taking with them when the construction of the new WVU Medicine Children’s Hospital is complete.
“We’re so excited about the new children’s hospital and the new PICU,” Mullet said. “It’s going to be bigger and better, bright and shiny. And, one of the other things that we’re excited about is that our PICU is going to be in a children’s-only full hospital. It will be a kid experience right from the front door, right from the front ER or from the front door of the OR, all the way through to the PICU, then to the wards, the regular part of the hospital and then on home.”
“It will be a child-friendly experience through and through, with the child life specialists available in all of the units. That’s going to be great.”
In the meantime, Mullet said he and the rest of the PICU team have their eyes on the prize. That prize, of course, is caring for the most critically ill children and, hopefully, sending them home with their families.
They “love” hearing back from parents and families that their child is well due to WVU Medicine. That, he said, is what the PICU takes pride in.
“Absolutely. These little personal moments when we get to post the new picture and sit there and say, ‘Oh gosh, I forgot about her. Wow look at her. She’s so great. Look at how grown she is.’ That’s one of the things that makes us the happiest.”