On Nov. 30, Lucile Packard Children's Hospital Stanford held a ribbon-cutting ceremony to celebrate its new building.
Slated to welcome its first patients on December 9, the building more than doubles the size of the existing hospital. The existing facility, now renamed the "West" building, will remain open and undergo remodeling over the next few years, while the new "Main" building will provide 521,000 square feet of new space, 3.5 acres of healing gardens and 149 patient beds.
Last week's ribbon-cutting had many elements of a great party: In addition to the giant red ribbon and over-sized pair of scissors, there were excited kids, confetti cannons, mingling guests and musical entertainment. Stanford leaders and hospital donors spoke about the significance of the new hospital, and Susan Packard Orr, daughter of hospital founder Lucile Salter Packard, described her mother's commitment to creating healing environments for children before dedicating the new facility "to our children, our grandchildren and the children of the future."
The highlight of the day, though, was hearing from Jennifer Watson, a mother whose family has lots of experience receiving care at Packard Children's. When her daughter, Effy, was diagnosed with leukemia in 2013, Watson and her husband wondered how they would support their then-2-year-old through cancer treatment.
"This hospital became our home away from home," Watson told the audience. "With our closest family 3,000 miles away, the people here became our support system."
She described how Effy's caregivers did extra things to make the whole Watson family feel loved, including giving checkups to the little girl's beloved stuffed monkey toy, listening to her parents when they felt overwhelmed, and tracking down monkey stickers to put on Effy's oxygen mask before surgery.
"As she was taken into the operating room in the arms of the surgeon, my tears were met with a huge smile because she had made a new friend that day," Watson said, as audience members wiped away their own tears. The hospital's blog provides more of her remarks:
To say this place is extraordinary would be an understatement ... 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.
Watson showed a joyful photo of her family celebrating Effy's last day of chemotherapy in September 2015. Shortly after, one of the participants in the ribbon-cutting was Effy herself, now a healthy 6-year-old.
Previously: Designed to heall: A look at the new Lucile Packard Children's Hospital Stanford, Former cancer patient returns to Packard Children's to open new doors and Bringing art and nature into the expanding Lucile Packard Children's Hospital Stanford
Photos by Beth Barton, DNK Digital for Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital Stanford