Pediatric Critical Care Medicine

Clinical Environment

Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital, the primary site for the PCCM fellowship is a 236 bed quaternary referral center located in downtown Grand Rapids, Michigan. Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital is West Michigan’s only licensed free standing children’s hospital and Level pediatric trauma center, providing world class care in 50 Pediatric specialties to children throughout a 37 county area. The hospital moved into a new, state-of-the-art facility in 2011 and cares for nearly 8000 inpatients and 95,000 ambulatory visits annually. The pediatric emergency department handles nearly 50,000 visits per year.

Our pediatric critical care unit is a 24-bed facility occupying the entire 8th floor of the 14-story structure. The PCCU cares for more than 1400 children annually. We manage patients with wide ranging pathology spanning the entire gamut of pediatric critical care.  The pediatric critical care division is led by Dr.  Robert Fitzgerald.

The division of pediatric critical care also runs the pediatric sedation service, which is one of the largest pediatric sedation programs in the country serving nearly 6000 children per year. This service provides sedation for a multitude of procedures including but not limited to heme-onc procedures, endoscopies, bronchoscopies, interventional radiology procedures and MRI’s. It also has a vascular access service which places PICC lines, central venous lines, broviacs and port placements for the children’s hospital. The sedation service is headed by Dr. John Kopec and Dr. Rick Hackbarth.

The cardiac surgery service is a very busy service with more than 230 surgeries per year and rapidly growing. There are currently two cardiothoracic surgeons with a third surgeon joining this fall. The entire range of complex congenital heart surgeries is conducted here and the intensivists are in charge of pre and post-operative management.

Another unique aspect of the division is the Blood management service, which is led by Dr. Nabil Hassan along with faculty from the division of pediatric critical care. This service has been a leader in optimizing blood product usage and has been a national leader in research on the subject.

All the modern technologies which are expected of a quaternary care institute are available in the PICU. The specialized supportive technology utilized in the PCCU include but are not limited to CRRT, hemodialysis, peritoneal dialysis, HFOV, nitric oxide and plasmapheresis.  Our ECMO program is very active with both cardiac and non-cardiac runs. The pediatric intensive care physicians provide medical direction for the ECMO service. The ECMO service is led by Dr. Brian Boville.

The fellows will have an opportunity to participate in all aspects of clinical care provided by the division.

Program Focus

The fellowship program at Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital is a three year program and is ACGME accredited for two fellows per year.  We function in blocks of four weeks each which is a total of 39 blocks (13 blocks per year).

The tentative schedule is as follows:

First year (PGY-4)

  • 6 blocks PICU & CICU
  • 1 block Anesthesia
  • 1 block bronchoscopy/echocardiography
  • 1 block Pediatric sedation
  • 4 blocks research

Second Year (PGY-5)

  • 5 blocks PICU & CICU
  • 1 block Pediatric sedation
  • 7 blocks research

Third year PGY-6

  • 4 blocks PICU & CICU
  • 8 blocks research
  • 1 block elective – Elective may also be taken in the second year in place of the third year Note: Vacation and conference time has to come out of research blocks.


The critical care division is very active in research. We have excellent opportunities for clinical as well as basic science research.  Dr. Surender Rajasekaran from the division of pediatric critical care is in charge of providing direction to research not only within the division but hospital wide.

We have outstanding basic science research opportunities through our partnership with the Van Andel Research Institute (VARI)   We also have outstanding researchers in Dr. Stefan Jovinge and Dr. Kristin Meldrum who are funded and active in basic science research. Our association with MSU also opens up many other avenues for basic science research.

We have plenty of clinical research opportunities. We have always had multiple clinical research projects ongoing in the division and as a division we are very well represented in various national level critical care conferences. We are an active participant in NACHRI and faculty from the division have led multi-institutional studies for the same. We are also an active participant in various multi institutional studies. Fellows will be welcome to join in on any existing studies or come up with research plans of their own
with a research mentor.

While fellows are encouraged to apply for grant funding to support their research, their position, salary, and benefits are guaranteed for all three years of fellowship training regardless of grant support. The GRMEP Research Department provides support to residents, fellows, and faculty in all areas of research and scholarly activity (e.g., quality, educational, surveys).  To access more details, including templates (e.g., study protocol, poster), help request forms and other contact information, visit GRMEP Research.