Stanford Medicine Children’s Health Opens New Inpatient Cancer Center and Outpatient Heart Center—Boosting Capacity for Specialty Care

For release: December 9, 2019

STANFORD, Calif. – This month two new patient care areas opened at Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital Stanford. On December 7, close to 30 pediatric inpatients were transferred onto a brand-new inpatient care level. The expanded space increases the hospital’s capacity to care for children and young adults fighting cancer and other blood diseases. Also in December, the hospital opened a brand-new outpatient center for cardiac care, neurodiagnostics, and pulmonary diagnostics. These are the latest in the children’s hospital’s campus expansion since the opening of the Main building in December 2017.

The inpatient care units of the Bass Center for Childhood Cancer and Blood Diseases moved from the hospital’s West building onto the 5th floor of the Main building, a previously vacant space. The 65,000-square-foot floor houses now two inpatient care units dedicated to patients with cancer, those with blood disorders, and patients undergoing stem cell transplant, including 49 new private rooms as well as shared patient spaces, all designed to improve quality of care and the patient experience.

“The opening of these care units is long anticipated,” said Kathy Bishop, RN, clinical director for the Bass Center. “They aren’t just expanding our capacity to care for patients. The design and the technologies employed are improving the coordination of care and safety for our most acute patients.”

Only at Stanford

Peter Hanson knows a thing or two about hospitals—namely Packard Children’s. Peter, now 15, has been a lifelong patient. He needed a heart transplant at the age of 2, and suffered from chronic ear infections, a broken leg, repeated bouts of pneumonia, and a challenging genetic lung disorder. Then at age 8 he developed a very rare cancer—angioimmunoblastic T-cell lymphoma.

Standard cancer treatments were not working on Peter’s lymphoma, and he suffered multiple relapses. He needed a stem cell transplant, but his having already received a heart made it more difficult to introduce another from a separate donor. In 2017, pediatric stem cell transplant specialist Alice Bertaina, MD, PhD, arrived at Stanford and introduced a revolutionary transplant technique that was also Peter’s last resort. Dr. Bertaina is one of the world’s leading experts on facilitating stem cell transplants for patients who don’t have a matching donor. The method she developed, called alpha/beta T-cell depletion, enables doctors to use cells from a partially matching donor. For Peter, it was his mother. 

Today—two years later—Peter is a sophomore in high school who enjoys playing video games with friends, practicing driving in parking lots, excelling at school, and thinking about his future.

“The stem cell transplant was by far the best treatment he received. It allowed him to feel well most of the time and be a regular kid,” said Katharine Hanson, Peter’s mother.

In alpha/beta T-cell depletion, technicians process stem cells from the donor to eliminate immune cells that could instigate a severe complication of transplant. Dr. Bertaina has performed transplants on more than 400 patients using this technique. Next, she is modifying the process to further reduce the risk of relapse. “Fifty percent of patients cannot find a fully matched donor,” said Dr. Bertaina, associate professor of pediatrics at the Stanford University School of Medicine. “This strategy has been shown to be the safest and most effective for the short and long term. Alpha/beta T-cell depletion is becoming our backbone platform for every type of transplant.” The expertise of physician researchers like Dr. Bertaina allows Packard Children’s to treat patients like Peter who have complex medical needs and are often told by other centers that they are not candidates for stem cell transplant.  

In the new hospital, going mask-free

Children who have fragile immune systems—including kids undergoing a stem cell transplant—are used to wearing special masks in public to protect them from germs. However, on the newly opened stem cell transplant unit, positive-pressure ventilation keeps every room cleaner to prevent infections—which means that patients and visitors don’t have to wear masks, gowns, or booties.

“We love this ventilation system for our patients,” said Bishop. In the past, they have been kept in their rooms for infection-prevention reasons. “One can only imagine how isolating the experience is for a child, not being able to leave their room. Here, thanks to the custom ventilation, they can access areas where they can play and socialize more often, mask-free.”

The positive-pressure ventilation system will also facilitate caring for the most acutely ill patients and give researchers an optimal environment in which to conduct clinical trials. As a research hospital, Packard Children’s is renowned for offering early-phase clinical trials, many of which are available only at Stanford.

The look and feel of the new space matches the hospital’s healing nature theme. Patient rooms are spacious and bright with natural light, and include sleeping accommodations for family. They also have all the latest technology, such as iPads, TVs, and gaming consoles.

Each patient care floor features a playroom for patients, but allocating a special space for the teen population was an important part of the planning for the 5th floor.

“Our adolescent and young adult patients really deserve their own space,” said Bishop. “These patients are spending a lot of time here, and we try to infuse as much normalcy into their lives as possible. Learning and socializing looks different for older patients, and we want to respect that in every way we can.”

Teens and young adults make up about 50 percent of the inpatient Bass Center population. These patients will now have access to a dedicated teen lounge called the Den, featuring computer stations, a lounge area, and a big screen for movies and video games.

Efficient and family-centered outpatient cardiac care

Housing an outpatient heart clinic inside a hospital may seem unusual, but according to Bob Wenz, RN, MS, director of outpatient cardiology, neurodiagnostics, and interventional services, it makes for a more seamless model for cardiac specialists to treat both inpatients and outpatients without needing to leave the building. This is the model for the Betty Irene Moore Children’s Heart Center, whose brand-new outpatient clinic is located on the 1st floor of the Packard Children’s Hospital Main building and just a short walk for cardiac care specialists to travel between the clinic and the surgery center or the cardiovascular intensive care unit. Not only will the new space expand the clinic’s capacity for patient visits—which is nearly 10,000 visits annually—but Wenz noted that it is also designed for optimal efficiency and family-centered care.

As in the rest of the children’s hospital, the new clinic adjoins technology and the patient experience. For patients who reside farther from the hospital, saving those families a trip to Palo Alto whenever possible is the intent for the dedicated telehealth room within the clinic. The real-time location services (RTLS) platform tracks the patient’s journey through the clinic and alerts staff to prolonged waiting periods as well as the location of care providers within the clinic. Wenz pointed out that integrating the clinic’s translator iPads into the RTLS system goes a step further toward optimizing efficiency in the clinic and keeping patient families from experiencing long wait times.

The new spaces were designed with input from the hospital’s Family Advisory Council, a group of patient families who contribute their perspectives as parents to ensure that the hospital is leading with a family-centered design approach. One of the results of that collaboration in the Children’s Heart Center was establishing special consult rooms, apart from clinic rooms.

“Often we need to have lengthy conversations with families on their care plan or to explain a diagnosis,” said Wenz. “Our families gave us feedback that clinic rooms were not ideal for these conversations. So we established consult rooms that offer privacy as well as comfort with sofas and chairs, outside of the clinical care environment.”

Performing more than 700 open-heart surgeries each year at Packard Children’s Hospital, the Children’s Heart Center has built its reputation on treating the most critically ill patients and those with rare conditions.

The new outpatient clinic is also home to the hospital’s neurodiagnostics and pulmonary diagnostics services. The Pulmonary Function Laboratory provides testing to help diagnose lung and breathing conditions as well as guide treatment decisions. The Electroencephalography (EEG) Laboratory uses brain imaging to identify and treat neurological conditions in children.

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Samantha Beal
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About Stanford Medicine Children's Health

Stanford Medicine Children’s Health, with Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital Stanford at its center, is the Bay Area’s largest health care system exclusively dedicated to children and expectant mothers. Our network of care includes more than 65 locations across Northern California and more than 85 locations in the U.S. Western region. Along with Stanford Health Care and the Stanford School of Medicine, we are part of Stanford Medicine, an ecosystem harnessing the potential of biomedicine through collaborative research, education, and clinical care to improve health outcomes around the world. We are a nonprofit organization committed to supporting the community through meaningful outreach programs and services and providing necessary medical care to families, regardless of their ability to pay. Discover more at