The annual town hall meeting brought hundreds of faculty and staff together at the Li Ka Shing Center for Learning and Knowledge to hear from the leaders of the two hospitals and medical school, as well as ask them questions.
October 25, 2017 - By Ruthann Richter
The importance of a diverse community and the politics of health care were among the topics that dominated the State of Stanford Medicine on Oct. 24.
During the lunchtime town hall meeting, the medical center’s three leaders also highlighted new facilities, including the planned opening of the expanded Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital Stanford, and the integrated strategic planning process, which aims to better align the priorities of the medical school, Stanford Health Care and Stanford Children’s Health.
Lloyd Minor, MD, dean of the School of Medicine, kicked off the event by introducing several new initiatives at the school, including Stanford’s participation in Project Baseline, a partnership with Duke University and Verily, an Alphabet company, that aims to understand the molecular basis of health by collecting vast amounts of biomedical data from as many as 10,000 participants, including approximately 1,000 in the Bay Area, over the next four years.
“We should be able for the first time to get information about the predisposing factors for diseases,” Minor told some 350 faculty and staff at the Li Ka Shing Center for Learning and Knowledge, where the event was held. “We’re really hoping the conclusions will empower and drive our efforts in precision health — to understand the determinants of health, as well as the determinants of disease, and therefore be able to predict and prevent disease.”
Minor also emphasized the importance of a diverse campus community, saying that broad representation and inclusion remain one of the school’s high priorities. The newly established Diversity Center of Representation and Empowerment, at Lane Library, and recent Stanford-sponsored meetings, including a conference in the spring on race, policing and public health, are helping to shine a light on the issues of diversity and inclusion and the search for solutions.
This year, 25 percent of the entering classes of both doctoral students in the biosciences and medical students are comprised of people from underrepresented groups, he said. That compares with 12 percent of PhD students and 14 percent of medical students in 2012.
“So it’s really wonderful to see the time and effort and devotion really coming to benefit in terms of the students we’re attracting,” Minor said. “We’re building an affirming community that is inclusive and representative of everyone.”
New children’s hospital
Chris Dawes, president and CEO of Stanford Children’s Health, discussed the new children’s hospital, which is tentatively scheduled to open Dec. 9. The new facility, driven by the vision of the late Lucile Packard and her daughter, Susan Packard Orr, incorporates a high level of sustainability, extensive open spaces, a sanctuary for spiritual reflection and technologies to put children at ease while they undergo challenging procedures, he said.
Soft floors, wood paneling in rooms, ubiquitous flower boxes, children’s play areas and many other amenities are designed to make the hospital as child- and family-friendly as possible, he said.
“We wanted to create a place that not only would cure disease but also a facility that would be nurturing and would feel comfortable to young children and their families,” he said. “We wanted to make sure we had a facility that was not ‘institutional.’”
The current hospital, which will be called the West Building, ultimately will be revamped as a mother and baby center, with private rooms serving obstetric patients and their infants, he said.
Planning the future
David Entwistle, president and CEO of Stanford Health Care, highlighted Stanford Medicine’s integrated strategic plan, in which the two hospitals and the medical school are working in concert to determine their future direction and how best to get there.
That is what will lead to our success — that ability to work together and collaborate.
Stanford Medicine has been seeking feedback from faculty and staff and received 3,700 responses so far. Thirteen working groups have been created to focus on specific areas, such as digital health, precision health and translational medicine, he said. The collaborative effort is an example of how the three organizations are breaking down barriers and trying to overcome what has been a siloed culture, he said.
“Quite frankly, that is what will lead to our success — that ability to work together and collaborate,” Entwistle said.
In response to a question about proposed cuts in health care funding, Entwistle said the hospital has been aggressively fighting back against proposed federal legislation that could be “quite frankly catastrophic.” For instance, the recent Graham-Cassidy health bill, which failed to gain sufficient support in the Senate, would have cut $275 billion from Medicaid, including $95 million in California, where the program is known as Medi-Cal, he said.
At Packard, the impact of the proposed funding cuts could have been dire, Dawes said. He said 50 percent of children born in California depend on Medi-Cal, and 42 percent of Packard’s patients rely on the federally funded program. A decline in these funds, he said, could have had a “profound” impact on the hospital and the families it serves.
“Our first initiative is to try to prevent these changes from happening,” said Dawes. “We need to continue to fighting aggressively any changes to Medicaid and at the same time prepare ourselves to be more cost-efficient.”
Given today’s unpredictable political environment, Minor said it’s more important than ever to build a strong community at Stanford Medicine.
“In these times of enormous uncertainty in our country, it’s important that we do what we can to build our community and affirm in our actions the value we have for each other,” he said. “I think that’s really, really important to enable us to be successful internally but also to show the world what a cohesive, highly functioning community can do.”
Stanford Medicine integrates research, medical education and health care at its three institutions - Stanford School of Medicine, Stanford Health Care, and Stanford Children's Health. For more information, please visit the Office of Communications website at http://mednews.stanford.edu.