Choo Choo! Hospital train creates smiles and memories for patients


What is the most popular spot at Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital Stanford? It’s not the cafeteria or even the flower-decked atrium ¬– it’s the hospital train, a first-floor attraction that draws the young and the young at heart to gaze with wonder at the jolly train as it circles through a miniature version of a Monterey Bay-inspired town.

Complete with whistles, horns, crossing lights, and plenty of buttons to press, this train set was placed at Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital in October 2008, replacing an older model that was becoming more “difficult to maintain,” said local volunteer Bob Herendeen, who comes to the hospital every week to conduct general maintenance. According to Herendeen, the train runs seven days a week, 10 hours a day for children who are eager to see it. Such a busy train requires constant motor lubrication, track cleaning, wheel cleaning, and more.

Up next for the hospital’s biggest and best toy? The set’s holiday makeover, which will include two Christmas-themed trains, decking the halls of the Monterey-inspired town with lights and even creating a row of boutiques for holiday shopping.

Mom Klaressa Ortiz remembers this main attraction when she was a child, as she was born at Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital. Now, her 3-year-old son Lukas enjoys pressing his nose against the glass of the beloved train, and watching it travel over hills and through tunnels.

“I love that the train provides a sense of comfort and safety, as hospitals can be scary for a child. Seeing it as an adult is quite nostalgic,” Ortiz said.

Christine Cunningham, director of patient experience, agrees: “Whether a family is waiting for an appointment and needs a friendly distraction or is walking around after a procedure, everyone at our hospital knows that the train provides a great chance for kids to be kids and do what they do best – play.”


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