US-based John Muir Health has partnered with Stanford Children’s Health to open a new paediatric intensive care unit (PICU) in its Walnut Creek medical centre, which would be Contra Costa county’s first such facility.

Expected to open in January 2015, the new facility will serve Contra Costa county in California, offering critical care for children in local and surrounding communities.

John Muir Health children’s speciality services executive director Beth Lannon said: "A child’s illness can be an overwhelming experience for families, especially when they have to travel far distances to receive the care they need.

"The PICU has been designed to help health care providers treat sick and injured children aged up to 18."

"This new pediatric unit staffed by top specialists passionate about their patients offers a healing environment that allows patients and families to remain close to home."

The PICU has been designed to help health care providers treat sick and injured children aged up to 18 for conditions ranging from congenital heart and neurological disorders to scoliosis, diabetes and respiratory problems.

The new inpatient unit will feature eight private rooms adjacent to the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) and paediatric units, with rooms designed to accommodate families for overnight stays.

The facility will feature equipment and furniture appropriately sized for younger patients as well as adult-sized amenities for parents and families including chairs suitable for resting, a family lounge, and a kitchen.

Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital Stanford and Stanford Children’s Health CEO Christopher Dawes said: "Our partnership with John Muir Health has been extremely successful.

"Increasing access and convenience to the extraordinary care at our hospitals provides a wonderful resource for the communities John Muir Health serves."

In 2012, John Muir Health collaborated with Stanford Children’s Health to offer children’s specialty services for families in Contra Costa county and surrounding communities.