Ribbon cutting celebrates new hospital opening

Ribbon cutting celebration

On Thursday, November 30, 6-year-old Effy Watson bounded on stage in front of a crowd of nearly 300 elected officials, community partners, and members of the donor community to help cut the ribbon at the official dedication of the new Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital Stanford, which will open its doors to patients on December 9. Wearing a t-shirt emblazoned with the words “I Opened the Doors,” reminiscent of the shirts worn by patients and hospital staff at the grand opening of the original Packard Children’s hospital in 1991, it was a celebratory and emotional moment for Effy – and her family – who just three years ago was beginning treatment for acute lymphoblastic leukemia at the age of two.

“To say this place is extraordinary would be an understatement,” Effy’s mother, Jennifer Watson, said as she addressed the crowd in the new Main building.

“The people that work inside these walls saved my daughter’s life, and made us feel like part of their family. And I’m so excited for you to have a new state of the art building, where you can continue to save the lives of children.”

Effy Watson, Caly Bevier and fellow patients

Effy Watson (center) donned cowboy boots as she stood next to Caly Bevier, America’s Got Talent semi-finalist and ovarian cancer survivor, who performed at the ceremony.

Other patient families joined the Watsons to help cut the ribbon in celebration of the new hospital, which will open to patients on December 9. In doing so, they reflected on the growth of the campus alongside their children and the obstacles they have overcome.

Formerly conjoined twins Eva and Erika Sandoval who were successfully separated at Packard Children’s nearly one year ago on December 6, 2016, shared in the celebration alongside their parents and members of their care team. It was the Sandovals’ first time seeing the new hospital and as curious three-year-olds, Eva and Erika especially enjoyed exploring the animals in the Dunlevie Garden.

Eva and Erika Sandoval Sandoval twins exploring Dunlevie Garden

Jennie Briend attended with her six-year-old son, Tyler, who has spent much of his life in and out and Packard Children’s receiving care for hypoplastic left heart syndrome, autism, epilepsy and cerebral palsy. “I’m really looking forward to this hospital providing more hope,” Briend said. “There is so much hope to be had, but with more bed spaces available Packard will be able to treat more families and more families will get to take their kids home and watch them thrive and grow up into healthy, delightful human beings.”

Jennie Briend and Tyler

“This is the beginning of an incredible new era. With this expansion we are now the most technologically advanced, family friendly, environmentally sustainable hospital in the nation for children and expectant mothers,” said Christopher Dawes, president and chief executive officer of Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital.

“We’re not only delivering the best medical care, we are transforming the way a hospital functions and operates.”

The new 521,000 square foot hospital adds 3.5 acres of healing gardens and green space, and 149 patient beds in nearly all private rooms with sleeping accommodations for two family members. Corina Romero, mother to David (10-years-old) and Doris (12-years-old) Diaz, knows what it is like to be in the hospital for long periods of time. The Diaz family spent nearly 12 years in and out of Packard Children’s as David and Doris both underwent treatment for cystic fibrosis and eventually, end-stage lung disease. Ultimately, for both children, a double lung transplant became their only hope for survival. And despite the rarity of these surgeries, particularly in kids, both Diaz siblings received the ultimate gift of organ donation – Doris underwent a transplant in June 2014 and David in March 2017. Since then, both are thriving. And although Corina is happy that for now, her family’s long hospital stays are behind them, she couldn’t help but imagine her family in the new building. “It doesn’t feel like a hospital,” she said. “It just feels like a really beautiful building, and it’s clear as soon as you enter that it’s built for kids.”

David and Doris Diaz

In her dedication of the new building, Susan Packard Orr, daughter of the hospital’s founder Lucile Salter Packard reflected on her mother’s founding vision:

“My mother once said, ‘what we’ve done here is create a setting, an environment, in which the real work will be done. The work that will make possible the medical breakthroughs that we need for the health of our children, our grandchildren, and the children of the future.’”

“For children, families and expectant mothers, the hospital of the future has arrived,” said Marc Tessier-Lavigne, president of Stanford University. He continued by quoting Maya Angelou, who once said “try to be a rainbow in someone’s cloud.” “I think we all know that hospital stays can mean so many things and often involve plenty of cloudy days of serious illness and serious healing. But because of all of you… we are very well prepared to be the sunshine and the rainbow for our children, for our families and for our new moms.”

The opening of the new building (called the Main building) will allow for renovation to begin in the existing hospital (now called the West building). Within the West building, design plans are underway to update the Johnson Center for Pregnancy and Newborn Services to become the premiere mother and baby center in the Bay Area, whose services are crucial for families like the Bolicks.

Will Bolick

Will Bolick, then and now. On left, in the early days of his life as a micro-preemie in the NICU. On the right, Will and his mother test out the new hospital’s digital interactive wall.

Will Bolick was born 3 months before his due date at only 24 weeks and 5 days into his mom, Brittany’s pregnancy. He was considered a micro-preemie, weighing just 1 pound, 11 ounces. He spent five months in the NICU and endured several serious complications in the first several months of his life, including chronic lung disease, retinopathy of prematurity, heart condition patent ductus arteriosus, and silent aspiration. Today, Will is a happy 5-year-old and his mom, Brittany, says “Will has touched so many and reminds us each day that where there’s a will, there’s a way!”

For the Nye family, before their son Colton was born, parents Zach and Kim worried that he might have the same severe epilepsy as his oldest sister. When their fears came true, a Stanford team offered precision medicine techniques to identify what was wrong and forge a path toward understanding the children’s rare genetic disease.

Colton Nye

“We really are in a special place. A children’s hospital like this simply couldn’t exist anywhere else in the world except here,” said Lloyd Minor, MD, dean of the Stanford University School of Medicine.

“Because of our location at Stanford and in Silicon Valley, we have access to some of the best minds in science and in medicine, which accelerates the pace at which new knowledge is translated into health benefits for children.”

“I wish we didn’t have to build these places, and I wish that no other family would hear the devastating news that their child has a life-threatening illness. But unfortunately there are many families out there who will hear that news today, tomorrow, or next week,” Watson said. “But those families will find the comforts of home here. And often when those families can’t return to their real homes for days or weeks or months, the new private rooms and the peaceful gardens will be well-used by those families who are fighting this tough battle.”


One Response to “Ribbon cutting celebrates new hospital opening”

  1. Aida

    I enjoyed getting to know those families that attended and their stories. Our girls had so much fun! Thank to for the honor of being a part of history with this new expansion.


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