The Cherese Mari Laulhere Pediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU) at MemorialCare Miller Children’s & Women’s Hospital Long Beach is improving overall outcomes for young intensive care patients through its PICU Liberation Project.

The PICU Liberation Project is a nation-wide project to assess the intensive care “culture.” Miller Children’s & Women’s is one of the earliest adopters of the project, which consists of five different goals: managing pain, breathing without a ventilator, calming the patient, reducing delirium and starting early mobility as soon as possible.

“Patients who are in the PICU can sometimes develop muscle weakness from being in a hospital bed for long periods of time,” says Shawna Simkins, RN, clinical operations director, PICU, Miller Children’s & Women’s. “Our PICU Liberation Project strives to change the culture of the unit by encouraging patients and their families to move as much as they can.”


The Miller Children’s & Women’s PICU team works alongside patients and their families each day to improve their condition in every way possible. The hospital recently added even more support with a full-time physical therapist to encourage and motivate patients to get out of their hospital beds to move, walk and participate in physical activities that improve their strength.

In addition to a full-time therapist, the PICU acquired a bed bicycle, which allows patients to work on their mobility when they are unable to leave their bed. The bicycle is safely installed on a patient’s bed to allow them to use the pedals and straighten their legs while bedridden.

“The full-time physical therapist and bed bike in our PICU greatly supports our PICU Liberation Project,” says Christopher Babbitt, M.D., medical director, PICU, Miller Children’s & Women’s. “The physical therapist is training our team, as well as patients and family members on the proper methods for moving critically ill patients to avoid complications.”