5 Qs with Lucile Packard Children's CMO on their new patient-centered hospital

Lucile Packard Children's Hospital Stanford in Palo Alto, Calif., will open a more than $1.2 billion pediatric and obstetric facility in December, after nearly a decade of development.

The five-story, 521,000-square-foot facility will nearly triple the size of the existing hospital campus. The new building will feature six surgical suites and 149 patient beds, bringing hospitalwide totals to 13 surgical suites and 361 beds. The facility will also be equipped with a host of innovative technologies, including a state-of-the-art diagnostic MRI and a neuro-hybrid operating suite — the only one of its kind among California children's hospitals — where surgeons can view updated images during surgery and re-image patients directly after a procedure.

Public support played an essential role in the expansion, as community leaders spearheaded a fundraiser that generated $262 million for the new building and surrounding grounds.

Dennis Lund, MD, Lucile Packard's CMO, recently spoke with Becker's about the hospital's design and how it will impact patient care and the patient experience.

Note: Responses have been lightly edited for length and clarity.

Question: How will Lucile Packard's new facility change the patient experience?

Dr. Dennis Lund: Well, it's going to be quite a remarkable facility. Building a new facility from the ground up has really given us the unique opportunity to look at every aspect of care from multiple perspectives, including the patient, family and provider perspective. So, it will have a new look and feel to it, but fundamentally we've tried to get input from all of the users to make sure we've designed this facility to meet their needs. The building has a kind of California feel. It has lots and lots of lights situated in such a way that it takes advantage of how the sun rises and sets. There's lots of open space. There's actually three-and-a-half acres of gardens surrounding the building. Every patient room will have its own garden box or flowerbox outside the window, with large windows and planter boxes. Every floor has a treatment room on it so if the child needs to have a needle stick or some kind of procedure done that might be potentially painful or make them unhappy, they're not in their hospital room for that, because the hospital room should be a safe space for the child.

We've tried to make decisions with the help of our advisory council and our staff with things like furniture and artwork to engage kids. I'm a big advocate that there are three jobs for a kid when they're in the hospital: one is to heal, one is to learn and the other is to play. The building has to allow for all of that, so that's where a lot of the thought and planning into the building have gone, to make the facility unintimidating and very family-centered.

Q: What kinds of technologies make Lucile Packard's new facility unique?

DL: We like to say this is going to be the most technologically advanced children's hospital in the world. For example, we will have hybrid suites for both cardiac and neurological surgery. Our neurological surgery suite will be an MRI, interventional radiology and surgical suite all rolled up into one — we'll have the only one of those dedicated to pediatric patients in a children's hospital in Northern California. We'll also have a hybrid cardiac [catheterization] lab. To lower radiation exposure for kids who need to have scans, say for cancer, we're going with a PET MRI hybrid device rather than PET CT. Again, the first one of those specific to pediatric patients in [a children's hospital] in Northern California. And then we're also bringing in a new technology called high intensity focused ultrasound that will be specific to pediatric patients, which will be a way to treat tumors without radiation and we will be the only children's hospital in California to have this. 

Every room is going to be outfitted with a camera, so we have the capability of building a centralized monitoring center for the whole hospital. We've built in [radio-frequency identification] for tracking assets and people in the hospital. There will be a smart TV in every room, so when I walk into the room I've got an RFID tag on my badge and it will say, 'this is Dr. Lund, surgeon' [on the television] so the family knows immediately who's coming to visit them from the medical team. And then last but not least, we're using virtual reality, and beginning to implement augmented reality to distract patients and allow them to play games. 

Q: How did you integrate patients into the design process?

DL: We've been working with two design firms: Perkins and Will, and HGA Architects and Engineering. Early on in the process, we did a tremendous amount of work with families, our family advisory groups, kids, nurses and doctors, incorporating them into the process. There were more than a thousand people that gave us input into what they thought were the important aspects of a new modern healthcare facility. Kids tell you that when you put in things that are of interest to them [in the hospital], put it low enough so they can see it right away, rather than up where the adults see it. Other things we hear from kids is they want interesting things on the ceiling to look at if they're lying down. So our rooms will have constellations of stars and other interesting things on the ceilings. That's the kind of feedback [we've received] from these encounters.

Q: How does the new facility build on the traditions of the hospital?

DL: The tradition of the Lucile Packard's Children's Hospital is really built around Mrs. Packard's vision. Her first experience with healthcare was volunteering in a facility called the Stanford Convalescent Home for Children as a young woman. She had an understanding and a vision for what a healing environment should look like for children. It should include things that make children feel a little bit like they're at home, like gardens for instance. Quiet places where they can sit and read and do other activities. Part of the reason we have three-and-a-half acres of gardens is because that's part of the Packard vision for what a healing environment should look like. Our families, patients and support groups really endorse that view. It's not a sterile-feeling healthcare facility. It's much more welcoming.    

Q: What most excites you about the new hospital?

DL: I've been very involved in bringing up hospitals over my career. I was involved in bringing up a hospital in Wisconsin and a hospital in Arizona. I was a brand new, wet-behind-the-ears surgeon in Boston when Boston Children's opened their new facility back in 1988, so I've seen the evolution of hospitals over the 35 years of my career. First of all, this is one of the most aesthetically pleasing hospitals I've ever seen. The artwork and the wayfinding and the gardens work extremely well together to be relaxing, restful and safe feeling, while also allowing for learning and play. We have the highest acuity of any children's hospital in the United States, yet I think the building will have the feeling that this is not a busy, chaotic place. It is a much more controlled environment than that. I'm very excited about that.

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