The Baylor College of Medicine Pediatric Critical Care section, created in 1978, was one of only five pediatric critical care sections in the country at the time.
Dr. Thomas Vargo was appointed as the first chief of the section. Dr. Larry Jefferson was Dr. Vargo's third fellow and became the second chief of the section in 1982 after completing both his pediatric pulmonary and critical care fellowship training programs at BCM. Dr Jefferson stepped down in 2008 after leading the section for 25 years.
Dr. Jeanine Graf, who completed her fellowship training in 1997 at Baylor, was the interim section chief for two years, while a national search was ongoing. This search came to an end September 2010 when Dr. Lara Shekerdemian was named the new chief of the Pediatric Intensive Care/Critical Care section.
History of Fellowship Training
One of the section's earliest commitments was the training of critical care fellows. The fellowship training program's mission has been and remains the training of academic leaders in the field of pediatric critical care medicine. Since the early 1980s, the section has had more than 50 successful graduates from the training program. More than 85 percent of our graduates continue to practice critical care medicine. Many early graduates are now leaders in the field serving as directors of pediatric intensive care units and department chairs. Some more recent graduates are working in international PICUs and have been instrumental in designing new PICUs in their home countries.
History of the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit
The Pediatric Intensive Care Unit has existed at Texas Children's Hospital since the mid-1970s. The earliest PICU was staffed by a variety of physicians, first under the direction of Dr. Charles Mullins, then Dr. Thomas Vargo, both pediatric cardiologists. The current 31-bed PICU was designed by current section members and was relocated to Texas Children's West Tower in September 1991. With more than 2,000 admissions per year, this unit cares for all types of medical, surgical and transplant patients.
History of the Progressive Care Unit
As pediatric critical care grew at Texas Children's, the need for varying levels of care and monitoring for children was increasingly recognized. A four-bed intermediate care unit was developed in 1982 under the direction of Dr. Larry Jefferson. In 1987, Dr. Fernando Stein assumed leadership of this unit and was instrumental in developing its expertise to serve as an "in-hospital home" for the community's population of technology-dependent children. When this unit expanded in 1992, it was renamed the Progressive Care Unit to reflect its goal that children's care progress toward discharge home. The PCU grew to its current 36-bed size with more than 1,600 admissions per year when it relocated again to the West Tower of Texas Children's. The PCU serves as a national model for the progressive and transitional care of children. The PCU currently provides a monitored care environment for a diverse population of special-needs patients, including children who are dependent on medical technologies, those undergoing rehabilitation after suffering a critical illness or injury, or acutely ill patients whose medical needs may exceed the capabilities of an acute care inpatient unit.
Development of Pediatric Transport
Texas Children's began its pediatric transport program in 1986. Under the direction of Dr. Jeanine Graf, it is now one of the busiest transport systems in the country, providing more than 650 transports annually. Redesigned in 2000 to include long-distance transports via fixed-wing aircraft, the Texas Children's Kangaroo Crew now transports children from domestic locations as far away as Boston and California and international locations such as Guatemala and Mexico.
History of the Cardiovascular Intensive Care Unit
As the cardiac population grew at Texas Children’s so did the need for a dedicated unit. A 12-bed Cardiovascular Intensive Care Unit with an additional 4-bed recovery area was opened in 2001. This unit quickly outgrew its capacity and construction began. The current CVICU is a 21-bed unit which provides care for patients from newborns to adults following repair of their congenital heart defects and other complications related to congenital heart disease. CVICU also cares for pediatric patients with acquired heart disease and has a robust ventricular assist device (VAD) program. The CVICU is part of the Texas Children’s Heart Center, one of the most successful centers in the nation.