News

Council lays Stanford-expansions groundwork

More than 100 Stanford supporters and community members pack chambers, cite shortfalls of present hospitals

Dozens of Stanford Medical Center supporters packed the Palo Alto City Council chambers Monday night, telling of severely injured children turned away, urgent surgeries postponed due to the lack of space and the hospital's packed emergency room, sometimes so full it turns away ambulances.

The council also heard from a handful of residents wary of the traffic and housing generated by the proposed expansion, which would add 1.3 million square feet and 2,000 employees to Stanford Hospital, Lucile Salter Packard Children's Hospital and the medical school.

After 4.5 hours, the council reviewed a preliminary list of negotiation issues and kicked off rezoning for the hospital project and the Stanford Shopping Center's concurrent expansion plans on a 5-0 vote. Councilman Jack Morton was absent and council members LaDoris Cordell, Dena Mossar and Vice Mayor Larry Klein have conflicts of interest on Stanford issues and cannot participate.

Simon Property Group is proposing adding a 120-room hotel and about 240,000 square feet to the Stanford Shopping Center.

And Monday, as in previous discussions about the expansions, participants generally fell in one of two camps -- Stanford Medical Center advocates who argue the facility is a core community asset that shouldn't be burdened with providing housing or protecting open space and those who are pushing for community-benefiting perks to sweeten the expansions.

"I hope you let this project go forward as proposed," Menlo Park resident Kathleen Much said. "Don't think of Stanford as your own personal money pots."

And Daniel Bernstein -- a Palo Alto resident and pediatric cardiologist at Stanford, one of more than a dozen Stanford employees who spoke -- urged the council to help shave two years off the project, which is expected to be completed in 2020.

"This is an acute emergency from our standpoint," Bernstein said, adding that overcrowding affects doctors at the medical center every day.

But the hospitals are not just a Palo Alto resource, so local residents should not have to bear the full costs, said residents Ellen Wyman and Bob Moss, among others.

"I think it is really important you do this right," Wyman said. "I hope you will slow down."

Monday night, the council reviewed a list of issues related to the expansions that could be discussed during development agreement negotiations. Development agreements are pacts that grant guaranteed development rights in exchange for community benefits and protections.

The city has begun preliminary discussions related to the agreement, but won't finalize any details until the projects' environmental report is released in late June 2008, according to City Manager Frank Benest.

The environmental impact report will outline possible mitigations for traffic, pollution, creation of housing demand and other effects of the development as required by California law. The agreement could be used to secure additional community benefits, according to a city report.

The list of potential negotiation topics, developed following several community meetings, includes parks, libraries, schools, open space preservation, environmentally friendly building standards, housing provision, shuttle development, transportation improvements and fee payments.

Representatives from the hospitals and shopping center told the council they believe the projects provide community benefits on their own.

The shopping center isn't willing to provide affordable housing or traffic projects far from the shopping center, Simon Property Senior Vice President Art Spellmeyer said.

"We really want the mitigations to be related to the needs of the hospital," Stanford Hospital and Clinics CEO Martha Marsh said.

The council also voted to initiate rezoning for both projects. The Medical Center has requested a new "hospital zone" to accommodate this expansion and future needs. The shopping center's existing development rights don't accommodate the expansion, according to a city report.

The council's move only makes it possible for consultants to analyze the effects of the zoning changes; it does not finalize the requests, Benest said.

The council also heard from Marlene Berkoff, an architect and economist familiar with hospitals, who provided a "peer" review of Stanford's proposal. The size of the proposed medical center expansion is reasonable, she said.

Single-patient rooms are now the industry standard and the university relied on accurate projections of space needs to develop the plan, Berkoff said.

The projects are expected to return before the council in the spring for a check-up. The final decisions are slated for January 2009, with construction scheduled for 2010.

Comments

Posted by Data-First, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 27, 2007 at 2:02 pm

> Dozens of Stanford Medical Center supporters packed
> the Palo Alto City Council chambers Monday night,
> telling of severely injured children turned away,
> urgent surgeries postponed due to the lack of space
> and the hospital's packed emergency room,
> sometimes so full it turns away ambulances.

This is another example of the never-ending con jobs with which Palo Altans are continually "dosed". Hospitals are very easy to model, so where is the model of the current operation, as well as the expanded operation? Where is the data that documents the Emergency Room's current capacity, and utilization? For instance, if one happens to talk to someone from the ER, they will say that there are times of the day, and days of the week, when overloads occur. For instance, there is a high occurrence of gun shot wounds on Saturday nights between 11:00PM and 2:00AM. Hard to understand why? Can it be that hard to predict the needs of the ER for that day and time period? What is the utilization for the rest of the week?

Given all of the paperwork that follows a patient throughout his/her visit to the hospital, it is difficult to believe that the Stanford people could not produce the data that documents accurately the delays for people with injuries/needs of a specific type, by day and hour. So--where is the data? Why are we having to sit through people with (most likely) one situation of their own personal experience to make claims about the capabilities of this hospital?

Why isn't Stanford treating the people of Palo Alto like good neighbors, explaining to us exactly what is going on with their current operation, and also their future operation running at the capacity/capability they say they need?


Posted by Not so fast, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Nov 27, 2007 at 2:23 pm

Stanford is treating PA like good neighbors, it is the opposite that is not true in many cases. Many residents and city leaders see Stanford as either an evil empire or as a cash cow to be milked anytime the city needs money and/or open space.

[Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.}

What kind of Er should Stanford have? the smallest possible based on times when it is "under-utilized" and then just have people wait during the times when it is overloaded?
Should the rest of the hospital be designed that way also?
hope you are not one of those that has to wait if it is a medical emergency for you.

Read this article regarding the expansion:

Web Link


Posted by Data-First, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 27, 2007 at 2:35 pm

[Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]

That is the point of the posting--only Stanford knows what it needs, not Palo Alto residents. Stanford should be providing the data that lets us know what they think they need beyond some abstract concept like increased square footage.


Posted by Not so fast, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Nov 27, 2007 at 2:47 pm

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]


Posted by Resident, a resident of South of Midtown
on Nov 27, 2007 at 3:01 pm

Having just had to wait over one month for surgery at Stanford Hospital, I hope the new facility is built ASAP. Meanwhile, if Data First needs urgent medical attention; he will be ransferred to a hospital in SF or SJ because both Sequoia and El Camino like Stanford are full.


Posted by Data-First, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 27, 2007 at 5:45 pm

It seems the City of Palo Alto did hire a consultant to review the Stanford plans, but this report does not seem to be in the "Reports" section of the PA WEB-site (surprise, surprise). The Consultant's review (at least as far as the local press is concerned):

Web Link

seem to not address any of the questions about the current operating capacity and utilization, outside of the fact that the hospital has 700+ beds and is increasing that number by a significant amount.

The article does suggest that the Hospital wants to serve more people, but does not provide any sense of how many people will be serviced on a given day. For instance, the number of ambulance runs that the residents will have to endure will increase from X to Y? Certainly it would be nice for the City's "consultant" to have asked these questions, making this information known to the general public. Or the average waiting time for access to the waiting room by day/hour. How will the increased ER capacity change these numbers? And if there is increased capacity, how long will it take before the waiting time for service at the ER is the same, or longer, because more people are now seeking service from the ER?

The point still stands .. The City has an obligation to ask Stanford these questions, and Stanford has an obligation to answer these questions.


Posted by not so fast, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Nov 27, 2007 at 7:22 pm

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]


Posted by Mike, a resident of College Terrace
on Nov 28, 2007 at 1:08 am

"The point still stands .. The City has an obligation to ask Stanford these questions, and Stanford has an obligation to answer these questions."

All we need to know is what we've been told. Delving into the operational variables at Stanford is not going to help anything, and tends to put citizens and local policy makers in the position of operational Monday morning quarterbacks. It's called "meddling".

How about "Common Sense First"? Giving some people around here access to a ton of data hust provides more grist for the big fiction mill.

Leave it alone.


Posted by Not so fast, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Nov 28, 2007 at 5:51 am

Data-first

You may also want to look at the info on this site as well:

Web Link


Posted by Jimmy Noh., a resident of Palo Alto Hills
on Nov 28, 2007 at 9:06 pm

Problem is mainly due to the incredibly arogant staff at Stanford Hospital. They are uneducates when it comes to clinical work and only interested in research not people. That will not change no matter how much they sink into the ER.


Posted by Sam, a resident of Midtown
on Nov 28, 2007 at 9:11 pm

I agree with Jimmy Noh.

The staff at Stanford Hospital are notoriously unhelpful and inept. The community down here is is full of horror stories of their insensitivity and incompetance. There is no shortage of money at Stanford in the past so I dont see how better facilities will change anything. These people are simply no good when it comes to clinical work. They are only interested in research. My advice is to not go there and to instead go to UCSF which is one of the best clinical hospitals in the world.

Sam.


Posted by Mike, a resident of College Terrace
on Nov 28, 2007 at 9:15 pm

Show me a top-flight teaching and research hospital that doesn't have some small percentage of the kind of behavior you describe, and I'll show you an inferior school. From personal experience, the behavior you describe is far more the exception, than the rule. Stanford works hard to provide patients with a healing experience, realizing that hospital environments *can* be stressful for patients.


Posted by Sam, a resident of Midtown
on Nov 28, 2007 at 9:34 pm

Show me a top-flight teaching and research hospital that doesn't have some small percentage of the kind of behavior you describe, and I'll show you an inferior school. "

An example of a top-flight hospital with a small percentage is UCSF. Not Stanford. Stanford hospital is an anomoly. It is notoriously disinterested in its patients.

Lets be honest. Even the staff at Stanford Hospital say secretly to their families to take them somewhere else should they actually get sick! Misdiagnoses. Bits sewn into patients. Patients left for hours unattended. Its a rich and nasty place. Stanford hires people who are not interested in people only the next grant. Building a new building will not change that.




Posted by Heavyhitter, a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Nov 28, 2007 at 9:43 pm

A lot of people in Palo ALto do think badly of the hospital. Go and see the Stanford News this week and the couple who have given millions to a new ER. They would not be doing that if they hadnt thought that the money should be best directed away from science and towards the people.

What will really happen is that the ER will go ahead as window dressing for what is really expansion of their labs. This is fine but they should stop pretending to be doing it for Palo Alto, and face facts that they are only doing it for science. Stanford hospital put the T in teaching and the R in research but the h in hospital is very small indeed.


Posted by Dr Frankenstein, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 29, 2007 at 9:04 am

Looks like Stanford can't win, at least not in the eyes of people who think the hospital is an experimental pad for Dr. Mengele. You people have to be kidding me! People come from all over the world to be treated at Stanford.

[Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]


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