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New Stanford Hospital inspires gingerbread masterpieces

Stanford Health Care patient-care teams brought their A-game to the A-frame, designing gingerbread models of the new Stanford Hospital that opened Nov. 17.

The new Stanford Hospital's grand opening in November provided a formidable creative inspiration for the patient-care teams vying to win the fourth annual Stanford Health Care Friends of Nursing gingerbread house competition.

Forty nursing and ancillary departments brought their A-game to the A-frame, spending hours before and after shifts brainstorming, designing and building entirely edible models of the new hospital.

The gingerbread creators had many creative takes on the Buckyball. (Courtesy of Stanford Health Care)

The Buckyball, artist Leo Villareal's geodesic dome at the hospital's entrance, was recreated in all manner of confections, including a ball of red licorice lace made to look like yarn in the observation unit's cat-themed entry, "Paws-bervation," shown in the top right photo below.

As in years past, Stanford Health Care President and CEO David Entwistle and Chief Nursing Officer Dale Beatty presented the awards. Trophies and gift baskets were given for first, second and third place, with plaques and gift baskets for three other winners.

Contest winners received gift baskets from Chief Nursing Officer Dale Beatty.

"The contest started simply, and every year, every team just keeps upping their game," said Elizabeth Borgueta, a registered nurse and program manager in the hospital's nursing excellence department, which organizes and hosts the event. "With the opening of the new building, the gingerbread house competition allowed a fun, festive team-building activity for the new units."

The top prize went to "Dialysis Express," a masterpiece by dialysis technicians and 2018 winners Jansen Estacio and Madel Dowd.

They used a train to visualize their unit's frequent trips back and forth between the original hospital building at 300 Pasteur Drive, where the dialysis unit and the equipment is located, and the new building at 500 Pasteur, where about 80% of patient treatments are done, said Susan Murphy, a registered nurse and assistant patient care manager for dialysis.

"Dialysis Express"

Estacio and Dowd created the two hospital buildings, as well as the bridge between them, and added lights on the baseboard that flashed in time to Christmas music.

"They are both naturally artistic and always help with any project that involves some artistic element," Murphy said. "They started the gingerbread house a month in advance and worked on it on their breaks and every opportunity they got."

The cardiology acuity adaptable unit won second place for its "Grand Opening: Raise the Roof," created single-handedly by nurse Merrill Walker, who transformed the hospital into a holiday present filled with candies and treats.

Theresa Cotter, left, a patient care coordinator in the cardiology acuity adaptable unit, with nurse Merrill Walker, creator of "Grand Opening: Raise the Roof"

This year, the observation unit was determined to win a category and they gave it all they had with their feline-inspired creation, "Paw-bservation".

After several brainstorming sessions, a team of about 12 nurses, significant others and children devoted the better part of two days, along with 12 bags of royal icing, 252 graham crackers, six trays of rice crispy treats, five gingerbread kits and about two pounds of fondant.

Among other intricate details, the Stanford Health Care C-Suite was reimagined as the "Cat Sweet," with a feline-inspired homage to Entwistle, Beatty and Chief Operating Officer Quinn McKenna.

The work paid off: "Paw-bservation" won for "Most Detailed/Creative" and third place overall.

The group learned a few things in the process: Graham crackers get soggy very fast; raccoons will slip through cat doors and steal fondant (that happened twice); and "a lot of our team are perfectionists," said Andrew Riccio, a registered nurse and assistant patient care manager for outpatient observation.

The award for "Most Delicious/Likely to Eat" went to "800 P: Living the Dream, 2 EDs Connected as One." 

The Marc and Laura Andreessen Emergency Department now has two locations: one for adults and trauma patients at the new hospital at 500 Pasteur, and one for children and teenagers at the original hospital at 300 Pasteur. Internally, staff have taken to calling the two hospital buildings "800P".

"This year was an important year for the Emergency Department at SHC," said Hannah McClellen, a registered nurse and assistant patient care manager in emergency services. "This gingerbread house was special because it allowed us to showcase how we are now separate areas, but work together as one unit to assure we provide seamless care."

The clinical nutrition group took the prize for "Best Name" with "Don't You Forget About Me," a reminder that the original hospital building not be overlooked. It will undergo renovations beginning this winter; ultimately it will be used primarily for oncological care.

Clinical Nutrition Supervisor Natalie Chan, left, and Nehal Ghosh, a clinical dietitian, hold "Don't You Forget About Me"

"The best part was putting together all the ingredients that were 'outside the box' of regular gingerbread houses," said Natalie Chan, a clinical nutrition supervisor. In particular, she loved their gelatin fountain, the broccoli trees -- as registered dietitians, the team always makes a point to include one nutritious item -- and the new hospital of rice crispy treats covered in sugar "glass".

We can't wait to see what they come up with next year.

Photos by Luke Girard

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