A look inside Lucile Packard's new 521K-square-foot 'patient-centered' hospital

Lucile Packard opened its new hospital on Dec. 9. (Steve Babuljak/Lucile Packard Children's Hospital Stanford)

The renovation and expansion of Lucile Packard Children's Hospital Stanford has been in the works for more than a decade, and this month it moved patients into the new facility for the first time.

The goal of the redesign was to create a facility with patients—and caregivers—in mind, said CMO Dennis Lund, M.D., the hospital's chief medical officer, in an interview with FierceHealthcare. The hospital has gardens for patients and families alongside balconies and quiet spaces for clinical workers to take a breather. 

"That's especially important," Lund said. "We can't have successful patient care if we don't have happy and satisfied staff." 

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When the hospital first opened in 1991, it was designed to serve as a space where children could recover from care, not necessarily as a destination for pediatric care, Lund said. The original facility did not offer imaging services or have any operating rooms, so patients were sent to the adjacent Stanford University Medical Center.

As Lucile Packard began to expand its portfolio, adding complex procedures like transplantation and advanced cancer care, the need for a larger and more advanced space become evident. The new hospital is 521,000 square feet, more than double the previous children's and obstetrics facility, and has added 149 beds for a total of 361 on the Palo Alto campus.

Alongside spaces designed to ease the stress of the care experience, Lucile Packard has expanded and modernized its imaging and treatment centers. Some elements, like new surgical suites and a neuro-interventional lab, are still under construction and set to open next year, the hospital recently announced.  

Lund said the new suites will streamline the care process for certain procedures. Having adjoining spaces for different steps along the care journey will make the process faster and requires less anesthesia for the children, he said.

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The investment in imaging includes a new positron emission tomography (PET) and MRI machine. The equipment allows clinicians to better craft care plans to a patient's needs and can allow them to better monitor the spread of disease. It's the only PET/MRI dedicated to pediatric care in the northern part of California, the hospital said. 

In addition, Lund said that Lucile Packard has gone all-in on virtual reality, which clinicians have found can calm nervous children and reduce the need for sedatives. They have also installed a radio frequency tracking system that will display information about clinical staff to patients and their families on video boards when they enter the room, Lund said. 

Despite the need for more modern technology, the hospital couldn't afford to lose sight of its original mission, to be a "place of healing" for children and their families, Lund said. That's why the hospital expanded healing gardens, offered sleeping areas for families to get a break when they need it, and ensured the facility was relatively quiet and didn't feel too busy. 

In the short window since the first patients moved in on Dec. 9, the response has indicated that they've succeeded, he said. 

"We're very much in the honeymoon phase right now," Lund said. "A lot of happiness, and people are very, very impressed."