Excitement, hope, reflection as patients welcomed to state-of-the-art facility

The new hospital’s opening, on Nov. 17, marked the culmination of more than a decade of planning, designing, constructing and fine-tuning the 824,000-square-foot facility.

Stanford Health Care employees in a lobby of the new building near the skybridge. 
Steve Fisch

When transplant patient Paul Lee appeared, wheeled in his bed by a nurse and a small entourage of transporters, a hush fell over the crowd of well-wishers awaiting his arrival.

He was the first of roughly 200 patients to move into the new Stanford Hospital on its opening day, traveling across a covered bridge connecting the original hospital with the new one.

As his group reached the end of the sunlit corridor, applause broke the silence.

It was an impressive reception to a beautiful place of healing, Lee said later from his new hospital room: “It makes me feel special,” said the 51-year-old Texas resident. 

The hospital’s opening, on Sunday, Nov. 17, marked the culmination of more than a decade of planning, designing, constructing and fine-tuning the 824,000-square-foot facility, built to support the most advanced medical care while providing an environment of peace and inspiration for patients and their families.

During an early morning huddle, Stanford Health Care President and CEO David Entwistle urged hospital leaders to find a moment for reflection in the busy day ahead.

“Think about all the individuals that will be cared for within this building,” he said. “Think about the joy that will be created. Think about the prayers that will be answered. Think about the tears that will be shed. And think about those that we will have to comfort along the way. That’s what this is about.”

Units open in new building

The morning progressed with a series of ribbon-cuttings in the new building, as patient care units and services came online.

At 6:30 a.m., in the predawn light, a group of doctors and staff members commemorated the opening of the Marc Andreessen and Laura Arrillaga-Andreessen Emergency Department at 1199 Welch Road, which will provide care for patients ages 21 and older and trauma patients. After the lighted red “emergency” sign was unveiled, the group trooped through the building, high-fiving and hugging.  Their journey took them to the emergency department’s other location, at 900 Quarry Road Extension, now dedicated to emergency care for patients who are 20 years old and younger.

Andra Blomkalns, MD, professor and chair of emergency medicine, said the new configuration would support exciting opportunities for education and research, in addition to patient care: “It’s not just about here and now,” she said. “It’s about the next era of Stanford Medicine.”

A team moves a patient into the new hospital on Nov. 17.
Steve Fisch

At 8 a.m., teams gathered in the atrium of the old hospital to mark the launch of the intricately choreographed move of about 200 patients to the new building and of 75 others to different locations within the original facility. More than 1,600 faculty and staff members had a role in the process, which they had rehearsed over the course of months.

Quinn McKenna, Stanford Health Care’s chief operating officer, offered his thanks: “I’m calm because I can see all of the preparation,” he said. “I have full confidence in the safety of our patients.”

Nurses Diana Wendell, RN, and Kelly Smith, RN, posed for a photo together ahead of the move. Both were designated leads for their unit, which provides care for orthopaedic patients: Wendell would ensure each patient and their transport team was prepared for the move, and Smith would make sure the receiving unit was ready and would help coordinate the patients’ arrival. Their team had been planning for this moment for more than a year, they said.

“We’re trying to make it smooth for the nurses and for the patients, so that when they roll in, we can perform patient care right away, without any delays,” Wendell said.

Moving patients

An hour later, Lee, the transplant patient, and his transport team crossed into the new hospital, followed in quick succession by others. Some patients clapped. One pumped a fist. Several held out their phones to take pictures and videos as they rolled along.

Members of the Stanford Health Care board of directors, wearing red Stanford T-shirts, headed the line of greeters.

“I’m so excited I can hardly talk,” said board member Mark Leslie. “I’m really looking forward to seeing the first patients in their beds in the units, and also very interested in seeing how the nurses react — the ‘angels,’ I call them.”

Settled into his fifth-floor room in the new hospital, Lee pointed out features that he liked, including the large size of the room and the comfortable chairs for visitors.

“I like the huge window,” he said. “The first thing I was thinking about was, ‘I’m going to have a really great view’.”

Around the corner in a different unit, patient Ling Ku admired everything from the big television screen to the remote-controlled window blinds. She said she was pleased with how the day went: “It’s happy. It’s good for me.”

Between visits with Ku, her family members explored the new facility, including the Johnson Wellness Center, which features dining spaces for loved ones and is staffed with a medical librarian, health navigators and volunteers to help answer questions.

Ku’s daughter and son played with Ku’s 20-month-old granddaughter on colorful playground equipment at the Goldman Family Gardens on the third floor.

Ku’s son, Andrew Ku, said he thought the hospital, with its space, light, art and gardens, was conducive to healing, and he was glad that his mother was receiving her care at the facility.

“First thing, when I walked in — that main atrium — I was speechless,” he said. “It was amazing. I was like, ‘This is a really nice hospital.’”



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