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Neuroscience building designed to transform patient services

- By Ruth Schechter

Courtesy of Stanford Hospital & Clinics neuroscience building

A rendering of the $79 million, 92,000-square-foot neuroscience building is that will be constructed next to the Hoover Pavilion on Quarry Road.

Diseases, injuries and disorders of the brain and nervous system, such as Alzheimer's, Parkinson's disease, brain tumors, multiple sclerosis and stroke, are some of the most devastating and difficult conditions to treat in all of medicine. The challenge is to provide integrated care that merges the expertise of neurologists — who specialize in diagnosis and treatment — with the skill of neurosurgeons and interventional radiologists, who perform therapeutic procedures.

Stanford Hospital & Clinics is breaking ground this month for a new building that will bring key programs and services in all these subspecialties under one roof. The $79 million, 92,000-square-foot neuroscience building is being constructed as part of the Stanford University Medical Center Renewal Project. Situated next to the Hoover Pavilion on Quarry Road, the new building will have four stories above ground and one floor below ground. It's scheduled to open in late 2015.

"The neuroscience building will integrate neurology, neurosurgery and interventional neuroradiology outpatient services, along with specialized support services, in a single location, creating a superior one-stop destination experience for our patients," said Alison Kerr, executive director of the neuroscience service line at Stanford Hospital & Clinics. "It's a comprehensive model that is not available anywhere else in the country."

Coordinated care

The building has been designed with the needs of neurological patients in mind. For example, a dark room will be easily accessible for migraine patients who require dim light and quiet to help relieve their symptoms. On-site infusion stations will allow people with multiple sclerosis, brain tumors or neuroendocrine disorders to see their doctors and receive treatment in one location. Exam rooms will be large enough to fit multidisciplinary care teams. Interior colors will be subdued, and all light fixtures will be dimmable to accommodate the acute light sensitivity of many patients.

Labs for diagnostic tests, exam rooms, imaging technologies, treatment areas and rehabilitation and support systems will be close by, making it easy for patients to coordinate visits for tests and for physicians to work collaboratively.

A great room on the first floor, adjacent to a gait and balance laboratory, will have a flexible floor plan so it can be adapted for movement rehabilitation sessions, as well as for lectures and group meetings. Clinical research facilities will be located on the top floor, so School of Medicine investigators can work closely with clinicians, while patients will have easy access to clinical trials.

"We have an unprecedented opportunity with this building to establish a collaborative approach to all aspects of care for our patients," said Frank Longo, MD, PhD, professor and chair of neurology and neurological sciences. "It's going to offer a significant way to improve efficiency and share expertise."

Shared design process

The building's layout and infrastructure are the result of months of planning based on the insights of the people who will be using the facility, including patients, physicians, nurses and other staff.

"There was a lot of exchange between the users and the designers," said Rachel DeGuzman, a senior project manager at Stanford Hospital & Clinics. "This collaboration helped us refine our selection of interior details and finishes that support the needs of the patients as well as the staff."

Patient input was especially helpful, she added, because of the variety of neurological conditions that will be managed in the new building. The planning group solicited advice from the hospital's neuroscience patient advisory council, made up of caregivers and patients.

Council member Sondra Erickson of Palo Alto said the group focused on specific design details to accommodate patient needs. She and her fellow council members suggested that long hallways have handrails for unsteady walkers and that an area be provided for visitors to relax while waiting during patients' appointments.

DeGuzman and her team worked to streamline the physical flow and minimize distances to make the check-in and paperwork process easier for patients who may be physically challenged or require extra help or privacy.

"We wanted to make it run as smoothly as possible, which meant looking not just at the physical space but at how the whole system worked," she said.

Streamlined system

One of the most significant aspects of the new building will be its patient check-in and registration system, which will be consolidated into one stop on the ground floor. Patients with several appointments will receive a same-day itinerary and be able to move from floor to floor without additional check-ins.

"Our neurology, neurosurgery and neuroscience clinical services currently are scattered around different parts of the hospital, so patients often need to check in multiple times and schedule multiple visits," Kerr said. "The new building puts the patient in the center and focuses on making it simple, streamlined and logical to check in."

Another unique aspect is how neurology, neurosurgery, interventional radiology and rehabilitation services will be clustered to streamline teamwork.

"The building will integrate the synergies of how we practice medicine and create a huge advantage for patients," said Gary Steinberg, MD, PhD, professor and chair of neurosurgery. "It will be a place dedicated to restoring neurologic function and improving quality of life."

Stanford Medicine integrates research, medical education and health care at its three institutions - Stanford University School of Medicine, Stanford Health Care (formerly Stanford Hospital & Clinics), and Lucile Packard Children's Hospital Stanford. For more information, please visit the Office of Communication & Public Affairs site at

2021 ISSUE 2

Unlocking the secrets of the brain

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