Stanford Children’s Health commemorates its hospital’s 30th anniversary with time capsule burial
From the beginning, Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital Stanford has stood out as a leading pediatric and obstetric health system. When it opened on June 10, 1991, it was one of a very few hospitals in the nation to integrate both pediatrics and labor and delivery in a children’s hospital.
Now, 30 years later, Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital Stanford is the centerpiece of Stanford Children’s Health, the Bay Area’s largest health care system exclusively dedicated to children and expectant mothers. Since 1991, the hospital and health system have logged more than 6.1 million clinic visits, 2041 solid organ transplants, and 129,574 births —and is regularly found on the U.S. News & World Report annual list of America’s top children’s hospitals.
This year, due to COVID-19 safety protocols, the hospital’s anniversary celebration is virtual, but the excitement is still present.
“Normally we would open our doors to the entire staff and the public, and have a huge party with balloons and other festivities, but with our current environment due to COVID-19, we are unable to do that this year,” said Paul King, president and chief executive officer of Stanford Children’s Health. “However, it doesn’t detract from the magic of the day, nor from the emotion we feel about the significance of what we have accomplished in the past 30 years.”
In honor of its anniversary, the hospital is burying a time capsule with photos and mementos contributed by staff to commemorate the last three decades. Leaders of the hospital will celebrate the milestone with a short ceremony and a burial of the time capsule on the actual anniversary date, June 10.
“The things that are going into the time capsule are keepsakes from the hospital’s history, including items that symbolized the extraordinary adversity that we faced this past year with the COVID-19 pandemic,” said King.
Luanne Smedley, executive director and associate chief nursing officer of pregnancy and newborn services, remembers the day in 1991 when the academic hospital first opened its doors. “I remember wheeling a pediatric patient into Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital. Hundreds of people were there celebrating—you could feel the joy in the air.”
Paul Grimm, MD, medical director of the pediatric kidney transplant program, has been at Packard Children’s for nearly half of the hospital’s existence. He has seen huge changes in the organization’s leadership structure, the buildings, the people, the patients, pediatric research, and innovative technology. Moreover, he continues to be in awe of the dedication, skills, and passion that people bring to the hospital.
“We really want to give the best care and provide the answers that families need; therefore, we developed specialization in areas such as anesthesiology, specialized intensivists, nurses and doctors, even specialized social workers,” he said. “So rather than any doctor who would be ‘good enough,’ we get the best.”
David Guevara, 23, has spent nearly his entire life at Packard Children’s as a heart transplant recipient. He was 2 weeks old, suffering from cardiac arrest, when he was first admitted in 1998. His memories of the hospital are about the compassionate care that he and his family continue to receive from the staff. “I love this place. The team gets to know you for you, and they look past the medical history and situation that is going on. They embrace me, like I am part of their own family.”
For Lydia (Lee) You, marking the hospital’s 30th anniversary brings back special memories of that morning in June 1991 when a 7-year-old arrived by ambulance at the brand-new hospital wearing a hot-pink T-shirt emblazoned with the words “I Opened the Doors.” She was greeted by oncologist Michael Link, MD, and was one of the first patients in the new building.
“I was so excited to see what was inside and remember running up and down the halls of the new space, and when I settled into my room, saw a giant teddy bear welcome gift, which now sits in my older daughter’s room. Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital was not just a shiny new building, but it was the heart of the community, and its doctors, and nurses.”
You was one of the first patients in the country to undergo an aggressive experimental chemotherapy treatment for her rare and fast-growing form of acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL). Instead of the standard treatment, which involved multiple doses of chemotherapy over the course of two years, she received high doses of chemo over just five months.
“Dr. Link holds a very special place in my heart, as I wouldn’t physically be here today if it weren’t for him and the rest of the hospital staff that journeyed with me,” said You. “Not only are his medical expertise and skills exceptional, but it was his warm personality and compassion for me and the rest of his patients that kept me going. He is truly a role model and mentor to me from my childhood.”
As Stanford Children’s Health continues to cultivate the next generation of medical professionals, Paul King hopes that when they open the time capsule on its 50th anniversary in 2041, what they find is the resilience and strength of the organization and its community.
“Twenty, 40, 60, 100 years from now, we hope you only read about COVID-19 in the history books,” he said. “But as they open this time capsule 20 years from now, I hope they see how we came through the other side better, stronger, smarter, and I want the next generation to continue to keep the promise that was born from the hope of Lucile Packard.”
Learn more about Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital Stanford’s historic milestones.