New Lucile Packard Children's Hospital is a habitat for healing | News | Palo Alto Online |


New Lucile Packard Children's Hospital is a habitat for healing

Facility will use immersive technology, nature to help patients get well

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Lucile Salter Packard is said to have always believed in the power of nature to heal. The late Silicon Valley philanthropist and namesake of Stanford's Lucile Packard Children's Hospital would likely delight in the new hospital scheduled to open in December, which is filled with wildlife art, more than 3.5 acres of gardens and green spaces, California ecosystem-themed floors and many sustainable and cutting-edge technological features.

Shimmering green glass leaves embedded in the floor will guide visitors along a redwood-forest-themed first floor, where kids will find a sculpture of a large mama black bear, her arms spread wide to invite children to sit on her lap.

Packard is still present: On an illuminated etched-glass memorial wall, images of her as a young woman and a more senior visionary philanthropist welcome visitors. The hospital she and her husband, David Packard, helped create through a $40 million donation in 1986 has grown to handle 13,472 admissions, including 3,519 inpatient surgeries and 4,417 outpatient surgeries in fiscal year 2016, said Samantha Dorman, the hospital's director of media and public relations.

The hospital has become world-renowned for its innovative surgeries, which have included delicate separations of conjoined twins, heart surgeries and organ transplants. Now the older hospital, which will be designated the "West" building, will be joined by enclosed bridges on each floor to the new building, to be known as the "Main" hospital, which is costing more than $1.1 billion to construct and will more than double the current hospital's 323,000 square feet.

The new hospital is adding 521,000 square feet and hundreds of new jobs. The additional 149 beds will bring the hospital's total to 361, according to administrators.

The new Packard Hospital is part of the multibillion-dollar Stanford University Medical Center Renewal Project, which includes a new 824,000-square-foot adult-patient hospital, Stanford Health Care, which is slated to open in 2018, and overhauls of the Stanford University School of Medicine and Hoover Medical Campus. Stanford is under a state-mandated deadline to comply with seismic-safety standards adopted under Senate Bill 1953 after the devastating 2004 Northridge earthquake.

The original Packard Hospital, which was completed in 1991, is compliant with current state seismic standards, but administrators planned in 2007 to increase the number of patients the hospital can serve and improve care by upgrading its facilities. Many of the older hospital's rooms are double occupancy, which can become crowded with equipment; the new hospital's single-patient rooms will help prevent the spread of diseases, decrease medical errors and result in less stress for patients, hospital administrators have said.

The new Packard will house a cancer center, acute-care and intensive-care units and a surgical treatment center, said Christine Wipert, hospital communications manager. Six new surgical suites will bring the total to 13, making Packard the largest in terms of children's hospital operating rooms in northern California, according to administrators.

But Packard will not have any dedicated beds for inpatient psychiatric services, a significant need in the Bay Area, according to health care professionals and parents of teens in need of inpatient care. The reasons are many, starting with the high demand for medical and surgery beds at Packard, Dorman said in an email.

In addition, Packard administrators believe the establishment of an inpatient facility would be too complex for any one facility. They favor a collaborative approach with El Camino Hospital and Kaiser Permanente hospitals, Dorman said.

In December, the hospital began providing adolescent psychiatrists to staff eight out of 17 inpatient beds at the adolescent inpatient psychiatric unit at Mills-Peninsula Hospital in San Mateo. Patients arriving at Stanford Emergency Department who require psychiatric hospitalization have priority for placement in those beds, Dorman said.

With six months left until the scheduled opening, a large semi-circular park with amphitheater seating near the building entrance has yet to be completed. On a recent morning, fresh paint on the acute-care and intensive-care floors mingled with plastic drop cloths, craft paper that protected the intricate floor tilework, and holes awaiting ceiling ducts and electrical outlets to be installed.

Construction workers labored to complete the labyrinth of scrub, diagnostic and operating rooms, some with metal beams still exposed and drywall unpainted. Bright natural light streamed down the hallways.

"We had feedback from the doctors to put in the skylights," Wipert said.

The new hospital, which broke ground in 2012, will include innovative technologies to help with surgeries and diagnostics. Two of the operating rooms will have on-site, advanced MRI imaging machines.

In the neuro-hybrid suite, the surgical team removing a cancerous tumor "will be able to view rapidly updated images during delicate surgeries and re-image a patient immediately after a procedure to ensure that the operation was successful," Dorman said.

The second high-tech operating room, a cardiac-hybrid suite, similarly will allow on-site imaging for cardiac procedures and cardiothoracic surgeries.

"The use of the hybrid rooms significantly reduces the anesthesia risk, the length of stay and overall cost compared to the multiple-stage procedures completed in the past," Dorman said.

Hospital administrators also tout the new building's environmentally sustainable design, which orients the structure toward the sun's movement to allow maximum natural light to enter through skylights. A wind turbine and a water-collection system also make the building environmentally friendly. The collected water will completely irrigate the landscape without the need for additional water from the Hetch Hetchy water system, saving 800,000 gallons annually, hospital administrators said.

The hospital may boast many advanced technologies and improvements, but it is nature that patients and families will likely notice first.

With the idea of creating habitats for healing, the hospital design team has given each of the hospital's six stories and two levels of underground parking a different California ecosystem theme: Deep Ocean; Shallow Water; Rocky Shore; Redwood Forest; Valley; Desert; Foothills and Mountain.

The main elevator is designed as a gigantic redwood tree trunk; its exterior is made from reclaimed redwood salvaged from Moffett Field hangar in Mountain View. There are other details on the first floor: porcelain-tile mosaics in the floor mimic waves; an aquamarine ocean-wave motif in glass wraps around the reception desk. There are also cast-bronze sculptures of sea animals by artists James Bottoms and Pokey Park; aluminum seabirds by David Landis flutter overhead.

Rather than moving through sterile hallways, families and patients can interact with murals depicting the lives of local threatened and endangered species and the habitats in which they live: the salt marsh harvest mouse, burrowing owl, California red-legged frog and others.

Sculptures on each floor help patients and families find their way around unfamiliar spaces: The second floor, in orange, has tiger salamander and kit fox motifs; the third floor focuses on desert themes with California valley quail, bighorn sheep and saguaro cactus.

The outside is just as interactive: Dunlevie Garden, located between the existing and new hospitals, is a space for exploration. Children will be able to climb on the giant wolf head or check out a gopher's habitat by crawling through its "burrow." Kids can hide in a puma's-den sculpture and scramble in a redwood tree house.

At a "three cubs" photo station, children will be able to get their picture taken between two small bears. There's a whimsical giant yellow banana slug and sculptures of desert dinosaurs.

And for children who can't escape to the outdoors, the garden will be viewable from hospital rooms. Each room also has a planter box outside the window to encourage healing, Wipert said.

To serve not just the young patients but their families, there are accommodations inside the patient rooms, Wipert said.

A parent and guest nook next to the window creates a semi-private space. Parents will have their own television and internet access so they can work, browse the Web, read emails or even sleep. Nearly all new rooms will have ports for laptops, gaming drives, iPads and televisions.

The uncomfortable visitors' recliner chair found in most hospitals is replaced by a loveseat that converts into a bed for two, Wipert said. And each room will also have its own safe for storing valuables.

Three separate areas — child, toddler and teen — offer play spaces. Parents and staff also have separate outside decks on each floor where they can take respite, Wipert said. A spiritual sanctuary will offer a meditation garden where visitors can also go to find solace, she said.

The hospital also will feature a resource center for parents and a recreation room with a story corner.

In a broadcast studio, kids will be able to create, record and edit their own videos, which can be broadcast in patients' rooms through the hospital's entertainment system. But perhaps the most fun and socially interactive feature will be a floor-to-ceiling, roughly 12-foot-wide digital interactive wall in the recreation room. Amid digitally created northern California cliffs or deep sea environments, children will be able to see themselves moving around the scene, frolicking on cliff tops, splashing in waves or writing their names in the sand.

The interactive programming, created by the company OUVA, can be used as physical, occupational and emotional therapy as well: Patients could, for example, perform tasks like catching a ball. Wipert said there is discussion about having physical therapy incorporated with the interactive wall.

That most common of family-gathering activities — meal time — will be aided by the hospital's Harvest Cafe. The well-lit cafeteria with sunshine yellow and leaf-green tile accents will serve sustainable organic food at different stations, from international to salads, a bakery and "grab and go."

Each cheerful seating area has faux-redwood laminate booths set against mural backdrops of scenes from Stanford University's history, including life on Leland Stanford's farm.

There's one special feature that Wipert said is already causing a gustatory buzz: "The employees are excited by the pizza oven," she said.

A familiar look?

The new Lucile Packard Children's Hospital's exterior may look familiar to Stanford University visitors. That's because the Lutetian limestone used is also on 12 buildings on the Stanford campus, including the Science and Engineering Quad and Lokey Stem Cell Building.

The more than 40 million year old limestone comes from the Saint Maximin Quarry about 30 miles north of Paris, which was bought by Leland Stanford, according to a hospital spokesperson. Approximately 546,000 pounds of the sedimentary rock was used in the construction of the new children's hospital and traveled nearly 5,600 miles by boat and truck to arrive at its new home.

Fast facts

The numbers behind the new Lucile Packard Hospital

$1.1 billion, the cost of building the new hospital

800,000 gallons of water to be saved annually

546,000 pounds of limestone used

521,000 square feet of building space

420 parking spaces in new underground garage

149 new beds (total 361 between the two wings)

100 cast-aluminum bird sculptures

60 percent less thermal-energy consumption than comparable hospitals

38 percent less water used than comparable hospitals

22 parking spaces for electric vehicles

6 new surgical suites (total 13)

4 new diagnostic units, including two operating suites with in-room imaging

3.5 acres of gardens and green space

CORRECTION: a previous version of this story stated that the OUVA program will measure how a patient is moving or track improved agility and range of motion. There is discussion about having physical therapy incorporated with the interactive wall, but there are no plans at this time to digitally track movement and send the information back to their doctors and therapists.


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2 people like this
Posted by Mother
a resident of Professorville
on Jun 16, 2017 at 11:54 am

This sounds just beautiful. I did not see any mention of the maternity services or the newborn/NICU services so important to our community. Surely this is a priority for the hospital and I would really like to see something about these preeminent services for mothers, their babies and families. Were these services not considered in the 1.1 billion dollars???

4 people like this
Posted by Lyn
a resident of Midtown
on Jun 16, 2017 at 7:20 pm

I attended an LPFCH event recently and heard an update on the project. The existing hospital will be completely devoted to maternity and newborn care (note the mention in the article of single-patient rooms). The article focused on what's new, and I'm sure the writer assumed readers didn't need to be told that Lucile Packard Children's Hospital would continue its world-renowned maternity and newborn services.

3 people like this
Posted by No5
a resident of Barron Park
on Jun 16, 2017 at 8:06 pm

Let's not forget that when he wad one the council Jack Morton vigorously opposed the Stanford hospital plans. In fact, help personally paid for and distributed a booklet attacking Stanford. Fortunately violet minds prevailed. Thanks Jack.

9 people like this
Posted by CLSunde
a resident of University South
on Jun 16, 2017 at 8:37 pm

the new place sounds fabulous - and yet, there is no mention of a school space in this new "Main" wing. What a shame that one of the most important parts of children's lives - school - a place to interact with other children and continue a routine every day activity - learning - seems not to have been given a second thought - or dismissed as unimportant for these children, whose lives have been so disrupted. Although bedside teaching may be offered, it isn't at all the same as being able to go to a classroom each day. So sad!

8 people like this
Posted by No5
a resident of Barron Park
on Jun 16, 2017 at 9:11 pm

CLSunde- a simple Google search would have shown that a school at LPCH has existed since 1924
Web Link

Sometimes it seems people for out of their way to criticize Stanford

17 people like this
Posted by Sarah1000
a resident of Los Altos
on Jun 16, 2017 at 9:20 pm

Last weekend’s WSJ had an excellent essay by Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel, “Medical Care Means Mental Health, Too”. Dr Ezekiel writes that “For decades, patients with serious mental-health conditions were shunted to isolated psychiatric hospitals, far from ordinary medical care. . . The rationale for this division was to avoid the stigma of mental disorders, but it only served to reinforce the stigma.” Shame on Stanford for sending children and teens away from its Children's Hospital because they have mental health issues. While some adolescents may receive care at Mills, younger children are often sent to Sacramento. Rather than leading the way in treating these diseases which have taken the lives of so many children in our community, Stanford is perpetuating the stigma that so many families feel. It's time for Stanford to include mental health in its definition of medical care.

15 people like this
Posted by CLSunde
a resident of University South
on Jun 17, 2017 at 6:46 am

NO5 - I realize that. I was on the teaching staff at CH@S and then at LPCH from 1983 through 2008. The point I apparently didn't make clear was that the current school won't be able to accommodate all the new patients, owing to its small size and distance from the Main wing. The staff of 4 teachers and 3 aides isn't large enough to cover both bedside and classroom students - and, I doubt that PA USD will be able to add more teachers to meet the growing population. Unfortunately, although it was discussed in the beginning stages of planning for this 1.1 billion dollar wing, a school space in the new Main wing was considered unimportant.

19 people like this
Posted by Sarah1000
a resident of Los Altos
on Jun 17, 2017 at 12:22 pm

I would also like to comment on the above ". . . Packard administrators believe the establishment of an inpatient facility would be too complex for any one facility." Your President and CEO, David Entwistle, comes from the University of Utah Hospitals and Clinics which has three inpatient mental health units to serve children from 5 to 17. And LPCH used to offer inpatient mental health care 20+ years ago. I'm sure Stanford can figure it out. . .

18 people like this
Posted by ChristineCL
a resident of Mountain View
on Jun 17, 2017 at 3:22 pm

Mental health care for youth is absolutely essential and inpatient beds for local youth are key for successful treatment and family stability. Yes it is complex. But Stanford is full of brilliant people and good care is always complex. Please don't give up on youth mental health inpatient beds!!!!

16 people like this
Posted by Susan
a resident of Los Altos
on Jun 18, 2017 at 6:45 pm

This new facility sounds lovely with lots of thought and resources put into the design. It's a shame that children and teens with serious mental health issues will still be shipped off to other facilities outside the county. Something is wrong with the priorities here!

13 people like this
Posted by Please NO
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 19, 2017 at 1:42 pm

Please don't confuse LPCH with Stanford! They have a connection, but are not one in the same!

The residents and nurses at LPCH are excellent, caring, and do a wonderful job with sick children.

At Stanford, care is often left to unsupervised interns, the nursing department is stressed out and understaffed. People don't get medications or post- surgical care ( such as ice) as often as they should, most markedly during the night.

The difference between LPCH and Stanford is like the difference between an old diesel truck and a Ferrari.

However, that STILL does not excuse their omission of psychiatric care for children and teen!

4 people like this
Posted by Sarah1000
a resident of Los Altos
on Jun 20, 2017 at 2:22 pm

Please NO- There used to be more of a clear division between Stanford Hospital and LPCH but now both are under the title of Stanford Medicine: "Stanford Medicine encompasses the Stanford School of Medicine, Stanford Health Care and the Lucile Packard Children's Hospital." Web Link
I've had good experiences at both facilities. My daughter was diagnosed with an adult neuromuscular disease at 13 and was seen by many doctors at both hospitals. It does get "old" having to go through interns to see the more experienced specialists but it's necessary so that Stanford can produce experienced doctors. This type of hands-on experience would be invaluable for psychiatric interns who wish to pursue youth inpatient mental healthcare and would, hopefully, attract more interns to pursue that career path.

9 people like this
Posted by Unfortunate
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 20, 2017 at 3:11 pm

Stanford Hospital gives such poor care, at such a high price that fewer and fewer insurance companies will cover them.

Unfortunately, Stanford's poor reputation is affecting LPCH, as we found out when our toddler needed to be admitted there. She had to be transferred to Sequoia in order to have her care paid for, and it was far cheaper than one day at LPCH!

1 person likes this
Posted by tiffany
a resident of another community
on Jul 13, 2017 at 6:32 am

[Portion removed.] LPCH, anchored by Stanford, with their highly educated doctors, qualified staff, and compensated executives, sends a tragic message to the community with this decision, "pediatric/adolescent mental health issues are too complex." What hope does that give to parents looking for support to help their children? Save their children? Depression and anxiety are often fatal conditions, the heart might not stop beating, but the soul stops believing! What message does this send to schools already reluctant to address the mental health needs of children?
> This is irresponsible and not the way responsible and caring physicians practice or leaders lead. LPCH should be ashamed, this new beautiful facility is washed in the shame of hypocrisy!
> Web Link

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