Health Victories

SHINE Awards: Pediatric ICU

Written by Natalie Walters

Our level one pediatric intensive care unit provides specialized critical care for illness or injury for patients from birth to 21 years of age. PICU offers a wide range of pediatric specialty services conveniently located in this one unit. PICU focuses on top-quality care with the patient and family at the center of that care.

PICU also has a highly trained ECMO team. The Children’s Hospital of Georgia  is an ECMO Center of Excellence awarded by the Extracorporeal Life Support Organization (ELSO).

PICU is also home to the Children’s Hospital of Georgia Heart Center. This comprehensive pediatric heart program treats children and young adults with heart disease and provides the highest level of care for babies with heart conditions detected in utero.

PICU is also home to the Pediatric Transport Team. This specialty-trained team is contacted by referring hospitals when a higher level of care is needed for an ill or injured infant, child, teen or young adult. The team arrives via ambulance or helicopter-bringing PICU specialized care right to the bedside. The team stabilizes the patient and transfers them back to CHOG for further care.

Pediatric Intermediate Care Unit (PIMCU)

Our intermediate care unit cares for patients in transition from the ICU to either the CHOG Pediatric units or home. The PIMCU patient is cared for by staff from the PICU. This means our PIMCU patients receive the same high-quality specialized care while they are progressing from ICU level of care. The PIMCU offers a more private setting for patients and families to continue to recover from a serious illness or injury.


Amy Bales 

I’ve worked in many roles in PICU since 1997 and have served as the Nurse Manager since 2018. My hobbies include spending time with family and friends and being outdoors, especially in the mountains or the beach. 

Theresa Ehntholt 

My name is Theresa Ehntholt and I am the ANM in PICU.  I have been in my current position since March of last year but have worked in the PICU since 1998 – most of that time as a member of the Pediatric Transport and ECMO team.  I am married and am the mother of two teenage daughters – Lucy and Olivia.  We enjoy traveling – especially our yearly trips to Hilton Head.  I also love skiing – something I don’t get to do as much as I would like! 

Dr. Gene Fisher 

Dr. Gene Fisher is grateful to have  been a Pediatric Intensivist for 29 years. He is awed by the resilience of children and their families and feels blessed to be part of such a great PICU team. When he is not at work he is happiest when he is with family and/or out on the trail hiking. 

Debi Deeder 

My name is Deborah Deeder and I have been with the organization since 1994. I started my employment as a nursing student – PCT. Upon graduation and passing board, I started working the in the newborn nursery. I have worked in varies units and positions in CHOG to include bedside & charge RN in the NICU; case manager in PICU and 5C; pediatric trauma manager; and currently the clinical outcomes manager in the CHOG (PICU/ PIMCU/ 4C/ 5C/ Pediatric Transport Team). I have retired from the US Navy Reserves – Nurse Corp as a Commander. I am currently in the doctoral program at Augusta University School of Nursing.

Michelle Ellerson 

My name is Michelle Elerson and I am the Care Coordinator for the PICU. I have been working with the PICU team in this capacity since June of 2023. My husband, Trey, and I moved back to Augusta during the summer of 2023 with our two dogs Fletcher and Watson. While I’ve only been apart of the PICU team for a short time, I started my nursing career and spent the first six years of my career working at CHOG! Outside of work, my husband and I can be found cheering on UGA every weekend during the fall! GO DAWGS!

Miranda McFarland 

My name is Miranda McFarland, and I am the Social Worker for PICU and 4C and have been working for CHOG since 2015. Prior to that, I was a child abuse investigator for the State of Georgia for six years. My nieces and nephews are my five favorite kids in the world and I love hanging out with them in my free time. I also enjoy Mexican food, laying out at the pool, and watching football. Go Chiefs!

Dr. Page Eber 

Position: PICU pharmacist, six months 

Family: John Reese (husband) 

Hobbies: reading and playing with our lab Mars 

Kelli Mock  

My name is Kelli Mock. I have been a respiratory therapist at Children’s for 24 years. I have been married for 22 years and have two sons. The best part of my job is building social relationships with our patients and their families. 

Stephanie Robinson 

I have worked in this position for almost 10 years and going on 31 years as a Respiratory Therapist. I’ve been married for 26 years to Wendell Robinson with no kids. My two favorite things to do is shop and work out! 

Haley Newton 

My name is Haley Newton and I am the Registered Dietitian who covers the PICU. I have worked as the 4C/5C RD at CHOG since July 2022, but I transitioned over to work as the PICU RD since October 2023. I have lived in Augusta since I moved here for graduate school in 2020. I currently live in North Augusta along with my dog, Oatly. My favorite hobby is running, I recently ran the Kiawah Marathon this past December. 

Crystal Tully

Crystal Tully currently serves as the Patient and Family Support Coordinator for CHOG. She works to advocate for and support patients and their families as they navigate trauma, chronic illness and our health care system. Crystal first began her work with the Center For Patients and Families as a Patient and Family Advisor in 2018 at the onset of her daughter’s ongoing medical journey. Crystal is a United States Air Force veteran having served as a Chinese linguist during the global war on terrorism. While active duty she married her husband of 21 years, Steven, who was also an Air Force linguist. Her husband continues to serve, out of uniform, on Fort Eisenhower. Crystal spent many years leading Trauma Competent Care training across the US as well as Latvia to support orphaned children, foster families and orphanages. She has a heart for supporting individuals that come from difficult places and is happy to continue that work here at Wellstar MCG. 

Crystal recently published her first book, Preparing Your Heart and Table for Thanksgiving. She not only loves to write, she is an avid painter and illustrator as well. Her second book is expected to release this spring. Crystal is a member of Parkway Baptist Church, as are her husband and their two adult daughters, Anna Grace and Rachel. 

Louella Simmons 

Chaplain Louella Simmons has worked at Wellstar MCG Health since 2017 and currently is the Associate Director of the Spiritual Care Department. Her ministry guided her to the Children’s Hospital of GA where she began serving in 2019. She is honored to have the opportunity to share sacred spaces with the patients, families and staff who come in need of clinical and spiritual/emotional support. Her goal is to provide a Ministry of Presence to all and to leave a “Fragrance of Grace” after every encounter. 

Mackenzie Vick

  • 15 years as a PICU nurse, charge nurse since 2011, transport/ECMO team since 2023 
  • Married to Nathan for 12 years in May
  • Momma to three (wild) boys: Grayson ,8; Everett, 6′ and Finley, 4
  • My hobbies include being a taxi driver for all of my kid’s activities, eating yummy food, going to the beach, and Clemson football.

Nicole Gibbons 

My name is Nicole Gibbons. I am one of the night shift permanent charge nurses in the PICU and I have been in that position for about five years. I’ve been in the PICU a total of seven years. I’ve been married to my husband Kevin for eight years and we have two beautiful daughters, Laney,7, and Palmer, 3. We love going on summer vacations to the beach! 

Alex Kizer 

Hi! I’m Alexandria (Alex) Kizer Price. I’ve been a registered nurse for 10 years this year. I have always worked with children and always worked in ICU positions. I started my nursing career in the  NICU and transitioned to the PICU in 2017 and have been here ever since. It’s truly a blessing to work with this patient population and truly a calling. Family is everything to me. This year, my husband and I will welcome our first child into the world. In my spare time I enjoy spending time with my family (especially my nieces) and friends, going to church and spending moments with the best girl in my life-my precious dog, Delta.  

Life gets crazy but I am so thankful to have such a great work family. I am truly blessed to work with the best!  

Shari Vautrin 

I am Shari Vautrin, RN BSN 

I have been a Nurse for 13 years all in the PICU. I have a wonderful husband, William, of 13 years and two precious girls, Riley and Harper. We love camping in the mountains and spending time at the lake in the summer! 

Raychel Neal 

My name is Raychel Neal, RN, BSN and I have worked here at Children’s in the PICU (Pediatric Intensive Care Unit) since November 2015. Two of those years I was a part of the Pediatric Transport/ECMO team and currently I am and intermittent Charge Nurse on our unit. I’m married to my husband, Chris Neal, and we welcomed of first baby in July of last year! We love going to Hilton Head Island for little getaways and trips with family.  

Tina Snipes 

Hey My name is Tina Snipes. I am a PCT in PICU. I worked on BMT 5S and on 4 and 5 C before transferring to PICU permanently in August 2023. I am married to my amazing husband, Robert, and we just celebrated our 25th anniversary Jan. 17 2024. I have a beautiful daughter, Amber, who is 22. I love spending time with family, going to the beach and mountains, and helping people.  

Also recognized within the department: 

Dr. Mary LaCoursiere 

Vanessa Hall 

Stephanie Grayson 

Dr. Mary Lynn Sheram 

Abby Webb 

Jennifer Grishkin 

 Roberta Sturgis 

 Kara Caudle 

 Jennifer Bittinger 

John Johnson 

Jason Herold 

Two Award recipients will receive preferential parking for one month in the Harper street garage.

PICU Recipient: Kelli Mock

PICU Recipient: Haley Newton

If you are interested in having your department featured, please contact Laura Cain at