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Stanford's big plan

Original post made on Jul 17, 2007

Twenty years from now, Stanford University Medical Center may be unrecognizable to its patients of today. If Stanford carries out its proposed multibillion-dollar overhaul to its hospitals and medical school, gone would be the 50-year-old Stanford Hospital building on Pasteur Drive, a beige monolith of blocks stamped with its distinctive, interlocking pattern. Photos by Norbert von der Groeben.

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Comments (13)

Posted by Bystander
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 17, 2007 at 7:15 pm

This is something that has two sides. Agreed, that improving the hospital is good for the hospital and good for local medicine.

However, the bigger issue is the increase in housing, increase in traffic and increase in students in our schools. I do not mind the increase in the hospital, provided and it is a big provided, that the infrastructure in the support areas are also improved. The bigger the hospital, the more staff needed to work there. More staff means more traffic and more housing and more housing needs more schools.

Posted by JC
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 18, 2007 at 5:48 am

Seven stories tall with a tower, so much for our vaunted 50 ft. height limit!!! Anyway, Council has already approved 2 developments both over 50 ft, the Campus for Jewish Life and a commercial building on Stanford land. You approve one, others will surely follow.

Posted by Otto
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jul 18, 2007 at 11:03 am

Bystander, consider all the economic BENEFITS that Stanford will bring, and enter those into your computation. That will more than balance out any concern you might raise.

from another post:
One of the things that continues to confound, as presented in the arguments of those who want to focus on the _cost_ of Stanford's proposed health center projects, is the utter _lack_completely and accurately listing the _benefits_ of Stanford's proposed building.

So, right out of the gate, here are a few things that may already _more than offset_ the local costs that have been identifoed by _some_ Palo Alto policy makers and others, who give little more than lip service to Stanford's benefits:

1) How much is having nearly the best medical care on earth within 10 minutes drive?

2) How many physician, health administrator, and medical education conferences will the hospital's presence bring to Palo Alto? How many hotel room rentals, and long-term housing rentals, does that compute to; how many local restaurant meals; how many new, highly educated residents; how much of an inflation factor to our homes; how many supermarket, bookstore, Stanford Mall and other shopping visits; how much free word-of-mouth advertising about the wonders of the hospital, Palo Alto and the region, spread to potential visitors from all over the world; how many intangible intellectual and R&D add-ons to our community; how many medical service, medical device, and other medically-related business startups emanating from the university - soley due to the world class R&D efforts; how much national prestige, and all tthe benefit hat carries; how many altruistic non-profit startups; how many more foundation grants that will feed into the local economy; how much cutting edge research that _saves_ Palo Alans lives, not to mention the lives of potentially millions more; how many educational opportunities for our high school and other K-12 students, who will have opportunities to tour the facility and be inspired; how about the multiplier effects of Stanford's presence in the region, and how that feeds back to PA; how about the careful planning that has _already_ gone into this facility (with no charge to Palo Alto); how about the increase in badly-needed social diversity (from the perspective of socioeconomic status) that will accrue in Palo Alto, as Stanford's staffing needs increase?

There's a lot more; why aren't we hearing about this from those who are tralking about the _costs_ of the Stanford project. I'd wager the benefits above, _not including their local and regional multipliers_ FAR outweigh any of the so-far puny impacts (by comparison) that some Palo ALtans (and some of their representatives) are beginning to shout about.
Will we ever hear anything about these benefits from our Mayor, and a few others who are beginning to pander to those who shout the loudest about the _cost_ to Palo Alto of this facility? We'll see.

Will we see locals and some policy-makers taking credit for already-assumed environmental efficiencies and cost replacement planned by Stanford? We'll see.
Will the costs that Stanford have to bear from inordinate delay caused form our infamous inability to move _quickly_ on important measures be computed by Stanford, and made public? I hope so.

I'm looking for more from our policy-makers and administrators than grandstanding and pandering to noisy locals who are interested I'm looking for maturity in negotiations, and _absolute honesty_ when it comes to comuting the cost picture relative to this facility. The latter assumes that _benefits_ coming from Stanford must be computed and factored in as fiscal equivilants.

Posted by 17 year pediatric xray technologist at packard childrens hospital at stanford
a resident of another community
on Jul 19, 2007 at 1:53 pm

Having worked here at Packard for 17 years in radiology with some highly skilled compassionate people on all levels, there is no doubt in my mind what must be done. This ambitious project must go forward.
I have seen too many lives changed in a positive way. Respectfully, Dan Galvan

Posted by Bystander
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 19, 2007 at 2:02 pm


I am sorry, I reread my original post. I agree that Stanford must go forward. I have no doubts about that.

What I am saying is that the City of Palo Alto must realise that all these increases at the hospital need to be planned for. As the plans go ahead for the hospital, subsequently plans must go ahead for improving Palo Alto infrastructure. I don't want to hear the City say things to the effect that they were unprepared when the improvements take effect. If the hospital is planning now, the City needs to start planning now and that goes for the School Board too.

Posted by Native Girl
a resident of Professorville
on Jul 19, 2007 at 4:12 pm

I was born at the old Stanford Hospital (The pink building) in 1958.
Does anyone know the future of that building?

My only child knows it as "There's Mommy's hospital", each time we drive by. It would be sad to see that demolished, from a sentimental perspective.

On the other hand, the Stanford Hospital facilities are at their maximum, but they are loving every penny of it!

They continue to advertise on television (and in print) of the outstanding medical care provided by Stanford.
They are trying to lure in even more patients and business.

I have only required emergency hospitalization once in my life.
Last year, when the PAMF called an ambulance from their Urgent Care facilities to have me transported to Stanford, they were told that it was full. The ambulance drivers had to transport me all the way to El Camino hospital.

I live right here!

My family moved here in 1951. I have witnessed the growth of this once quiet city.

Now I feel that Palo Alto and the surrounding areas have become way too crowded. The schools are full, the hospital is full, the stores run out of food (even in the neighboring cities).

Our only child was wait listed for a year to get into our local neighborhood public school.

Sometimes I feel like I am a now a burden to my city, school, and hospital.

The congestion and overpopulation are ruining the area.

Why have we always been so short sighted?

Cities, corporations, and Universities alike are willing to sell out and build up everything, just to make a fast (short lasting) dollar. the expense of our environment, and quality of life.

I agree that the hospital needs to expand, but I think that everyone needs to put the brakes on population and development.

This problem is not unique to the Bay Area.

Our country is experiencing incredible overpopulation problems in all suburban areas due to the rapid population increases in the United States.

Posted by Mike
a resident of College Terrace
on Jul 19, 2007 at 4:58 pm

Native Girl, times change. Remember when Mayfield had dirt roads? Aren't you glad we grew to change that?

Posted by Registered Nurse
a resident of Woodside
on Jul 19, 2007 at 5:55 pm

Stanford intends to duplicate a lot of services offered in other Bay Area hospitals. While some of their care is unique, much is not "cutting edge" or considered tertiary care. They need to put more emphasis on quality and safety before embarking on a large building project. They currently have safety problems in the operating rooms where there have been more than the usual number of incidents of supplies/instruments left in the patient. They could also do a better job when it comes to infection control. I know of one registered nurse who was "downsized" from the Radiation Therapy Department after expressing concern about contaminated equipment that was used on cancer patients.

Despite their recent participation in the Nursing Magnet Program; they refuse to hire hospital orderlies or have a "Lift Team" to assist nurses while lifting or transporting patients. I am aware of scores of employees with back, neck, and shoulder injuries who are forced to lift more than a safe amount. The cumbersome "Cows" or Computers on Wheels are now an old concept that needs to be shifted off the carpet in the hallways and updated to bedside computers. And anyone worried about infection control should just stand and watch what gets dropped and dripped into the carpeting. Hospitals are not hotels and they should not be designed as one!

Employees and visitors currently pay to park on the campus. Hospital workers now commute long distances to work at Stanford, since they cannot afford housing in the immediate area. The cost of parking averages $400 to $500 a year. Parking needs to be provided as a benefit to the emloyee and as a courtesy to those of us who are patients. While Mr. Dawes believes he does not have to worry about housing, someone needs to ask him how he will staff the extra bed capacity. How many more healthcare workers who will commute from outside of our community are you going to recruit with the current cost of fuel? We already know the cost of housing is a problem for attracting physicians.

Yes, in many respects it is a great place and we are all grateful to have these services available. I think most of us want these services to be of the highest standard of care and offered in an institution where staff are allowed to be patient advocates. Why should we settle for less at the expense of allowing the institution to merely get bigger? If roughly 1/3 of the new building project will "right size" the needed space; then 1/3 of the project should be approved.

Posted by Mike
a resident of College Terrace
on Jul 19, 2007 at 6:35 pm

Registered Nurse, every hospital has horror stories. Why use a few examples to make Stanford Hospital look unsanitary and unsafe?

I agree with you about the parking, but I would also urge a look at Otto's post. There is a LOT of benefit coming from Stanford Hospital that is never counted by those worried about impact.

Posted by Howard
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jul 20, 2007 at 12:22 am

Of course the hospital expansion will and should happen. Of course it has many benefits. But that is not the issue. The planned expansion violates every zoning rule in the book. It is way over the amount of development allowed to Stanford. So NOTHING can happen unless the city permits it. That gives the city the power to extract concessions from Stanford in exchange for approval. The city should extract whatever concessions it possibly can. This will cost Stannford money, and that cost will be passed on to the users of the hospital, the insurance companies, and the many benefactors of Stanford. Is this unfair? Of course not. The costs of the expansion (increased traffic, higher density, etc.) are borne almost entirely by Palo Alto. The benefits are enjoyed by a much wider region -- indeed, the hospital's customers, users and other constituants come from around the world. Only if Palo Alto takes a firm businesslike attitude during negotiations can this cost-benefit apportionment be evened out.

Posted by Not so fast
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jul 20, 2007 at 8:15 am

So Howard, the city should resort to extortion in order to "extract concessions" from Stanford? If the city goes forward with your plan it will surely lead to disaster.
You say the cost of increased traffic is borne almost directly by Palo Alto? is this true? What about those people that drive to Stanford Hospital via I-280 and then take Sand Hill Road? What about those people that come from Menlo Park and beyond on El Camino Real?
It seems that Palo Alto wants to increase their tax revenue--how they want it accomplished is a mystery to me. They want more revenue, but do not want people driving in and spending money in town, nor do they want people working at Stanford and spending money in town, nor do they want new workers moving in to Palo Alto and spending money in town.
I suggest that you read Otto's post above regarding benefits of the hospital expansion that our city council and people like you ignore.

Posted by Palo alto mom
a resident of Professorville
on Jul 20, 2007 at 9:04 am

Why does Palo Alto get to decide what Stanford can build?

Posted by Stanford Was Here First
a resident of Mountain View
on Jul 21, 2007 at 3:15 am

Anyone who purchased a house in the Palo Alto area in the last 50 years did so knowing that they were choosing to live next to a major university. Yet judging by the incessant complaining, you'd think that Stanford was just plopped down in Palo Alto last week, out of the blue. When you bought a house here, what did you expect Stanford was going to do in the future? Never build more buildings? Never replace aging infrastructure? That sounds like poor planning on *your* part, not Stanford's or Palo Alto's. I don't know anywhere in California where people don't complain about how their community has grown too much. To have the growth be in the form of one of the world's great universities (rather than, say, Walmart) well, I don't think you'll find *any* sympathy elsewhere. Without Stanford, Palo Alto is Mountain View -- which is also somewhere you could have chosen to live if you didn't want to deal with a university.

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