The first time Chris Bjornson walked through the infusion area in the new Stanford Neuroscience Health Center, he couldn’t stop smiling. Bjornson, 45, was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis seven years ago. He’s happy with how well his doctor, neuro-immunologist Jeffrey Dunn, MD, has worked with him to control the progress of a disease that has gradually eroded Bjornson’s ability to walk.
Getting to his appointments, however, was something else. Many neurological disorders and injuries leave people with less ability to maneuver through crowded hallways, negotiate the changes in texture from one type of floor covering to another or endure going from one place to another to see different specialists. High countertops, narrow bathroom stalls and tight turns at corners become additional obstacles.
Stanford doctors agreed that asking patients to make such a difficult journey for care had to change. They also knew that that change couldn’t be done by renovating the several buildings that now house the Department of Neurology and Neurological Sciences and the Department of Neurosurgery. Only a from-scratch approach would work.
Last week, Stanford Health Care, in partnership with the Stanford School of Medicine, cut the ribbons to officially open the new Stanford Neuroscience Health Center for outpatient care. It’s a five-story, 92,000-square-foot building on the medical school campus. The exterior is, of course, brightly new and sparkling. It is the interior, however, where the center shows its best.
Hallways, floor coverings, lighting, chairs, bathrooms and the building’s floor-by-floor organization all reflect what the Center’s 12-person Patient Advisory Council told Stanford Health Care would eliminate those physical barriers to care — and, as a consequence, their stress. The infusion center that so impressed Bjornson has no dark corners or tiny treatment rooms. Instead, the area is filled with the light and views from three walls of windows.
The center also puts Stanford’s team of neurologists and neurosurgeons, representing 21 neurological subspecialties, in one place. That sets up easier multidisciplinary visits for patients and the kind of medical collaboration that often produces the best care. The center also includes a Wellness Room for patient education and exercise classes and a mobility garden to teach patients how to walk again after a neurological injury.
Patients at the center will also have the advantage of diagnostic imaging with the first PET/MRI hybrid machine available outside of research setting. This technology can see twice as much, with half the radiation exposure, as either of those devices used individually.
The building will also house a clinical research office and the Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center. That center is one of only 29 in the country where scientists will have the opportunity to conduct interdisciplinary research on Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases, the two most common neurodegenerative disorders nationwide.
It is also one of two locations on the West Coast equipped with a thermoregulatory sweat lab, a diagnostic test considered essential for accurate diagnosis and treatment assessment.
“At Stanford Medicine, we are committed to working across boundaries to provide preventive, personalized and patient-centered care for our patients,” said Dean Lloyd Minor, MD. “The Stanford Neuroscience Health Center provides our neuroscience patients with individualized care that is focused on wellness and that integrates the most technologically advanced equipment with groundbreaking discovery.”
Chimed in Bjornson, “It’s all right here and it’s going to be a wonderful experience for people.”
Previously: Stanford Neuroscience Institute's annual symposium captured on Storify, Talking about "mouseheimers," and a call for new neuroscience technologies and Stanford expert responds to questions about brain repair and the future of neuroscience
Photo of Dean Lloyd Minor (far left) and others by Norbert von X