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CHOP's Pediatric ICU Celebrates Half-Century Milestone

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) -- It is a golden anniversary for Children's Hospital of Philadelphia as their Pediatric Intensive Care Unit hits the 50 year mark.

In another first for Philadelphia, CHOP established the nation's first Pediatric Intensive Care Unit , or PICU, in 1967.

That's when the former Surgeon General of the US, C. Everett Koop was a pioneer in the field of pediatric surgery at Children's Hospital, but he had no place to put his young patients.

Dr. John Downes speaks at CHOP Celebrates PICU 50th Anniversary
Credit: Steve Tawa

Dr. Koop turned to the now Professor Emeritus of Anesthesiology & Critical Care Medicine & Pediatrics University of Pennsylvania) Dr. John Downes, who decided to cohort critically ill and injured infants and children.

So, Dr. Downes founded the PICU.

Dr. Robert Berg is Chief of the Division of Critical Care Medicine.

"It's so obvious now, but at that time, it was really disruptive," said Berg. "Within ten years, the whole country instituted this."

CHOP Celebrates PICU 50th Anniversary
Credit: Steve Tawa

CHOP's PICU now has 55 beds with more than 400 staff members who tend to more than 4,000 patients each year.

He says among 14 peer institutions across the country, CHOP shines with the best outcomes for patients.

"98.5 percent of them survive," said Berg. "That was the best of any place in America."

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