Counting down to December opening of new Packard Children’s Hospital

More than doubling its current size, the expanded Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital Stanford will transform the patient experience through family-centered design and technological innovation, while setting new standards for sustainability in hospital design.

- By Samantha Dorman

Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital Stanford is counting down to the debut of its new pediatric and obstetric hospital campus, slated to open in December.

With a mission to lead the way in family-centered care, the Packard Children’s expansion will more than double the size of the existing campus by linking the original hospital with a new main building, bringing the total hospital space to measure 844,000 square feet.

“This will be the nation’s most technologically advanced, environmentally sustainable and family-friendly hospital for children and expectant mothers,” said Christopher Dawes, chief executive officer. The top-ranked children’s hospital in Northern California is at the center of the Stanford Children’s Health enterprise, which is the largest health care system in the Bay Area exclusively dedicated to pediatric and obstetric care.

The new, 521,000-square-foot addition to the hospital and surrounding 3.5 acres of healing green space and gardens were designed in partnership with patients, families, and every level of hospital staff and faculty to ensure all areas of need were accounted for. 

“When my mother founded this hospital, she envisioned a place where children and families could receive truly healing care,” said Susan Packard Orr. “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. Everything we do at this hospital will have an eye to ensuring that generations to come will be healthier.”

The fundraising campaign

Community support played a key role in making this growth possible. The “Breaking New Ground” campaign, which ran from 2007 to 2012 under the volunteer leadership of Anne Bass, Elizabeth Dunlevie and Orr, raised $262 million for the new building and grounds. Further funding will come from hospital income and operating services, public bond money and ongoing community support.

The new facility in Palo Alto will add 149 patient beds and six state-of-the-art operating suites, with a design that allows room to grow as demand increases.

“In our 25 years, we’ve become leaders in providing the best care for children and expectant mothers. Keeping pace with the growing needs of our patients was the catalyst for this transformation,” said Dawes. “We’ll continue to build world-renowned programs as part of Stanford Medicine and advance research in every pediatric and obstetric specialty.” 

Improving health outcomes through advanced technology

With 13 surgical suites, the new Packard Children’s will have more operating rooms than any children’s hospital in Northern California, reducing scheduling delays and long waits when surgeries take longer than planned.

The expansion of Packard Children's Hospital will include 3.5 acres of gardens and green spaces, providing relaxing areas for young patients and their families.

A neuro-hybrid surgery suite — the only one of its kind in a California children’s hospital — will feature a state-of-the-art diagnostic MRI, direct access to angiography imaging equipment and a full operating room. The suite will enable surgeons to view updated images during surgery and reimage patients before closure of the surgical incision. For a patient having a tumor removed, their surgical team will be better assured of the procedure’s success. Ultimately, this will reduce the number of procedures, which in turn will impact overall cost and the amount of time a young patient will spend under anesthesia.

Planning for emerging technology was integral to the design for the new hospital.

“When planning and design began many years ago, we knew we had to leave room for ever-evolving technology,” said Dennis Lund, MD, chief medical officer. “So, we’ll have the most advanced capabilities available when we open later this year, with the ability to implement emerging technologies in the future.”

The new facility will also have a dedicated isotope radiation therapy room for cancer patients, as well as one of the nation’s only stand-alone combined PET/MRI scanners dedicated to pediatric patients. The hybrid scanner combines the two modalities, positron emission tomography imaging and magnetic resonance imaging, into a single scan, allowing physicians to see how diseases are behaving in the body, monitor the effects of treatment and craft informed treatment plans to cater to the patient’s case.

A holistic approach

Planning for the new Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital was done by HGA Architects and Engineers, and the building’s design by Perkins+Will, with a central theme of enabling a holistic approach to healing. 

“From the beginning, the vision for expansion was founded not only in a mission to lead the way in children’s health, but also to nurture the whole family,” said Kelly Johnson, PhD, RN, vice president of patient care services and chief nursing officer. “Many of our patients require acute and chronic care, and the hospital becomes a second home for the entire family.”

We want to give families moments of relaxation, play and discovery.

Private patient rooms will be more spacious, with sleeping accommodations for two family members and amenities like laundry facilities and family kitchens on every floor. Special features that help make the space unique and kid-friendly include a large digital, interactive wall as well as a dedicated broadcast studio where children can create, record and edit video content that can be shared in patient rooms throughout the hospital.

Because Packard Children’s believes that a holistic approach to health leads to better health outcomes, nature is a vital thread throughout the hospital’s campus. Surrounding the new building, 3.5 acres of gardens and green spaces will reflect the flora and topography of Northern California. The hospital’s Dunlevie Garden will feature educational and engaging sculptures for children to physically explore.

“We want to give families moments of relaxation, play and discovery, which are so important in the midst of illness and hospitalization,” explained Elizabeth Dunlevie, a longtime hospital supporter, board member and chair of the expansion’s design task force. “Through walking paths, whimsical sculptures and interactive artwork, children and parents can share time together in an outdoor play environment while still being within the hospital site.”

Inside the hospital, the signage and interior design will reflect California’s ecosystems. Each floor will feature overlook areas with views of the landscape, and there will be a planter box in the window of every patient’s room to provide a connection to nature for everyone.

Raising the bar for sustainable hospital design

Packard Children’s will set the standard for sustainability in hospital design. Water conservation, renewable energy use, recycling programs, green housekeeping and local food offerings are all integral to the new Packard Children’s.

Water-efficient landscapes and collection systems are expected to save 800,000 gallons of water each year. By using equipment specifically designed to conserve, Packard Children’s expects to use 38 percent less water than comparable hospitals. By implementing energy innovations such as an external-shading system, the new building’s thermal energy consumption is expected to be 60 percent less than that of similarly sized hospitals in the region. 

Transforming the original building

The new building will allow for a transformative renovation of much of the existing hospital’s space, including the Johnson Center for Pregnancy and Newborn Services into mostly private obstetrics rooms. Some major programs will grow and transition into the new, main building, including the Bass Center for Childhood Cancer and Blood Diseases, the Pediatric Transplant Center and the Betty Irene Moore Children’s Heart Center. Additionally, services previously shared with Stanford Hospital will now have a dedicated presence inside the children’s hospital, including nuclear medicine, catheterization labs, interventional radiology and patient food services. 

Packard Children’s growth is connected with the advancement of adult care through the new Stanford Hospital, which is expected to open in 2018.

“An integral part of Stanford Medicine, the expanded Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital will help us continue to provide the best possible care for children and pregnant women,” said Lloyd Minor, MD, dean of the Stanford School of Medicine. “The new hospital’s innovative technology, family-centered design and advanced sustainability features will further advance our academic mission and vision for precision health — enabling us to offer the highest levels of predictive, preventive and personalized care to all of our patients.”

“We are all working with focused dedication and excited anticipation as we move toward the opening of our new campus,” said Dawes. “Together, we are advancing a vision to heal humanity through science and compassion, one child and family at a time. 

About Stanford Medicine

Stanford Medicine is an integrated academic health system comprising the Stanford School of Medicine and adult and pediatric health care delivery systems. Together, they harness the full potential of biomedicine through collaborative research, education and clinical care for patients. For more information, please visit