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Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital Stanford celebrates 25 years

The June 10 anniversary also kicks off a one-year countdown to the opening of a 520,000 square foot, state-of-the-art, new main building of the hospital.

- By Robert Dicks

Lucile Packard Children's Hospital Stanford celebrates its opening on June 10, 1991. 
Lucile Packard Children's Hospital Stanford

From the beginning, Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital Stanford stood out. When it opened on June 10, 1991, it was one of very few children’s hospitals in the nation to incorporate both pediatrics and labor and delivery in one building.

Now, 25 years later, the hospital is the centerpiece of a preeminent pediatric and obstetric health system that has 65 locations in the Bay Area. Since 1991, the hospital and health system have logged more than 3 million clinic visits, 1,600 solid organ transplants, 110,000 births — and found a permanent place on the U.S. News & World Report annual list of America’s best children’s hospitals.

The silver anniversary in June is a perfect time to look back on a remarkable period of extraordinary care, and look ahead to the 2017 premiere of a new main building for the pediatric and obstetric medical campus.

“From the start, our goal has been to fulfill the vision of Lucile Salter Packard, our generous founder and visionary for children’s health,” said Christopher Dawes, president and CEO, who has led the hospital and enterprise since 1997 and was previously chief operating officer. “She planned a very nurturing environment, one that would make possible medical breakthroughs for our children, our grandchildren and the children of the future.”

A rendering of the hospital's new main building, which is expected to open in 2017.
Lucile Packard Children's Hospital Stanford

Major achievements

“I remember opening day just like it was yesterday,” recalled neonatologist David Stevenson, MD, professor of pediatrics at the School of Medicine. Stevenson helped plan and open the hospital, where he’s still treating and saving premature infants. “It was really exciting to see the whole community come out to celebrate. Their support has played a huge role in our tremendous impact.”

Lucile Packard, long an advocate for the health of children and expectant mothers, died before the hospital’s début. She and husband David Packard founded the hospital with a $40 million donation in 1986. “Her magnificent spirit still guides everything we do,” said Dawes. “She would have loved this place and all we’ve achieved.

Those achievements include a series of notable breakthroughs in academic and clinical excellence. Some highlights:

  • Launch of the first mobile clinic program in America specifically targeting underserved adolescents.
  • Development of a nonsteroidal, immune-suppressing drug regimen for organ transplant recipients.
  • Open-heart surgery on the youngest and smallest infant ever to undergo such an operation.
  • Groundbreaking improvements in pregnancy and newborn care.
  • Leadership in preterm birth research.
  • Pioneering food allergy research.
  • Studies focused on eradicating disease for children around the world.
  • Recognition as being No. 1 in the United States in solid organ transplant volume.

Becoming one of the nation’s elite children’s hospitals has long been a collaborative effort with the School of Medicine, Stanford University and the top minds in Silicon Valley, all “tremendous drivers of our innovation and achievements,” Dawes said.

Saluting donors

Dawes also saluted the unwavering generosity of donors through the Lucile Packard Foundation for Children’s Health, and the support of the David and Lucile Packard Foundation. “They’ve helped propel every element of our success,” he said. And through aggressive outreach and advocacy, the hospital and health system have become leaders in community service, providing care regardless of a family’s ability to pay.

“I know my mother would be extraordinarily proud of everything Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital stands for,” said Susan Packard Orr, vice chair of the hospital’s board of directors. “The breakthrough discoveries, the community service, the family-centered approach and such great care are exactly what she wanted this hospital to be.”

Expanding access to meet demand

“Major advances in patient care mean that more children today are living into adulthood with serious and chronic diseases that would have been fatal 15 to 25 years ago,” said Christy Sandborg, MD, pediatric rheumatologist and professor of pediatrics at the School of Medicine. “There’s an increasing demand for more space to care for these kids and families.”

Lucile Packard inspires our past, present and future, and we think she’d be very proud of everything we done.

That’s why the hospital will début a new centerpiece for the pediatric and obstetric medical campus — a $1.1 billion expansion, adding 521,000 square feet of building space and 149 patient beds — in the summer of 2017. The project will create the nation’s most technologically advanced, family-friendly and environmentally sustainable hospital for children and expectant mothers, Dawes said.

“The hospital’s expansion signals its continued dedication to the sickest patients, and illustrates the essential role children’s hospitals play in our health-care system,” said Mark Wietecha, president and CEO of the Children’s Hospital Association in Washington, D.C.

The hospital’s influence expanded further in 2012, and in a way few could have predicted back in 1991. “We launched a new, integrated network called Stanford Children’s Health,” said Dawes. The network, with the hospital as its centerpiece, now has 65 locations in Northern California and 100 locations in the western United States. “It was our response to a changing health-care environment and consumers’ increased demand for high-quality services, like those at Stanford Medicine, to be available closer to their homes.”

That model, providing everything from routine checkups to advanced treatment, has been a runaway success. Together with the hospital, this comprehensive health system receives more than 500,000 clinic visits a year.

The next 25

As the pediatric and obstetric teaching hospital of the School of Medicine, Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital Stanford will continue to have access to the top minds in science, research and innovation.

“For the past 25 years, Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital Stanford has helped to lead the world in advancing pediatric research, care and training for the benefit of countless children,” said Lloyd Minor, MD, dean of the School of Medicine. “As an integral part of Stanford Medicine, the hospital will remain indispensable to our overarching vision for precision health, through which we hope to win the race against childhood and adult disease before it even begins — preventing conditions before they strike and curing them decisively if they do.”

Those cures are poignantly illustrated in stories of lives saved. For instance, 5-month-old Liam Luna of San Jose, California, recently became the first baby in the world successfully treated with prenatal maternal hyper-oxygenation for his rare heart defect. His parents were thrilled to take him home with a great prognosis. And the family of Elliot Loh, age 7, is so happy that he was successfully treated for a brain tumor at Packard Children’s that they return to the United States every year from China for a reunion with their care team.

“In the end, it’s stories like these that best represent how our staff is fulfilling the vision of our beloved founder,” Dawes said. “Lucile Packard inspires our past, present and future, and we think she’d be very proud of everything we done.”

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

2023 ISSUE 1

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