A peek inside the new Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital – The Mercury News
STANFORD — When the new Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital admits pediatric patients to its expanded state-of-the art building, each child will have a room with a view to help ease their traumatic plight.
Not just any view. Outside their bedroom windows — in the garden below — they’ll see a huge fiber and concrete dinosaur, a bighorn sheep, a wolf’s head as wide as a parade float, and a collection of giant glass lollipops, among other whimsical figures.
“We have very sick kids that come here,’’ said Jill Sullivan, vice president in charge of the hospital’s transformation. “We have one of the highest acuity levels of any children’s hospital in the Bay Area, and our patients have a tendency to stay a long time.”
Having outgrown its space to accommodate more patients and the latest medical technologies, the hospital in 2007 launched its expansion plans. And in December, the new $1.1 billion building will finally open its doors.
The five-story addition more than doubles the size of the hospital to 844,000 square feet, seamlessly linking the original building with the new one.
As construction workers put the finishing touches on the hospital, a tour this week of the new building revealed many key elements are already in place.
From their perches inside the ground floor walls, bronze raccoons and pelicans, harbor seals and frogs peer at passersby. Each floor will feature an iconic sculpture — a family of robots and their robotic dog, a multicolored life-size cow made of used toys, another dinosaur with her baby, both of them wearing bunny slippers. Not only do the figures lighten the mood, they serve to help patients and families remember their way around the huge building.
Enhancing the patient and family experience wasn’t the hospital’s only goal. Officials say the expansion will make the building the country’s most technologically advanced and environmentally sustainable facility for children and expectant mothers.
For example, the hospital boasts six new surgical suites, for a total of 13. UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital in San Francisco has 12, while the Oakland campus has 11.
A new “neuro-hybrid operating suite’’ comes with with a state-of-the-art diagnostic MRI, direct access to angiography imaging equipment and an operating room, allowing surgeons to view rapidly updated images during surgery and re-image a patient immediately after a procedure to ensure the operation was successful.
Some of the inspiration for the hospital’s architecture and design elements came after visiting other top children’s hospitals around the U.S. to see what worked and what didn’t, Sullivan said. But many ideas came from patients, families and staff in the current hospital that began with a $40 million donation in 1986 from the David and Lucile Packard Foundation.
When the now legendary Silicon Valley couple first met at Stanford in the fall of 1933, Lucile was a volunteer at the Stanford Convalescent Home for Children, which treated children with tuberculosis. Her work there helped it evolve into the hospital that bears her name.
“When my mother founded this hospital, she envisioned a place where children and families could receive truly healing care,” Susan Packard Orr, a hospital board officer, said in a statement. “She saw the power that nature had to heal and uplift. I’m proud that we have carried her vision forward, with world-class sustainability and holistic elements throughout the new hospital.”
About 3.5 acres of the site are devoted to gardens and green space, and the building is expected to save 8,000 gallons of water every year, along with efficient landscape. It will use 60 percent less thermal energy than similarly sized hospitals in the region.
But patient care and safety, Sullivan said, was the foremost goal. To that end, every patient’s room comes with glass window facing the hallway and a video camera installed inside, both meant to help nurses check on their patients without disturbing them.
Attracting and retaining doctors and nurses was critical as well. “We want our staff to feel like they want to work here; it’s very important, and we value their skill level,’’Sullivan said.
The expansion includes outdoor porch areas on all levels dedicated solely for the staff’s use for breaks, and a garden just for the employees.
Finally, the building had to have a connection to nature. The existing hospital is themed around the ocean, but the new building takes its cue from multiple California ecosystems, including the shoreline, redwood forest, valley, desert, foothills and mountains.
“When you enter into this building, you’re entering into our ground floor. When you enter into our existing building you enter into the first floor — so we definitely needed to reinforce’’ how patients and families would navigate between the two buildings that is one children’s hospital, Sullivan said.
The different ecosystems — and each floor’s major sculpture — not only help people find their way, but also offer entertainment and education. For instance, along a burnt-orange wall on the second floor, passersby are introduced to the world of kit foxes and the kind of menu a “Cafe de Fox’’ restaurant should offer its four-legged patrons: Rabbits will do, as will kangaroo rats, prairie dogs, lizards and snakes.
All of the flora and and fauna featured in the project are native to California.
The new hospital adds enough rooms to accommodate 149 more beds for a total of 361 beds between the two facilities. But unlike the existing hospital, nearly all the patient rooms in the new expansion are private, and big enough to allow two family members to sleep inside the room.
Each room — painted in assorted cheerful colors — comes with amenities. Two wall-mounted televisions — the biggest one for the patient, who can also use it to play video games; and a smaller version for family. An iPad is also assigned to every room.
“It’s very hard to have your child in the hospital, very difficult,” said Sullivan, who previously worked as a registered nurse.
Creating a space filled with diversions not only lifts the mood for patients and their families, she said, “it also helps them forget why they are here.”