Stanford opens South Bay cancer center designed with patients’ feedback

By Leeta-Rose Ballester

When its doors open next week, Stanford Cancer Center South Bay will be more than just a medical facility that is closer to local residents than Palo Alto: It will also feature some of the comforts of home.

The 70,000-square-foot building at Highway 85 and Bascom Avenue could begin taking cancer patients for treatment and exams as soon as July 13. The vision for the center took off when Stanford announced in 2013 that it would occupy the vacant new building and asked patients and their advocates what they’d like to see offered.

As visiting patient Leslie Trillo checked out the fourth-floor infusion clinic and its sweeping views of the foothills, her eyes welled with tears.

“It’s beyond words; it’s beautiful,” she said. Trillo has been going to another Stanford clinic, where she often sits for hours to receive injections of medicine. “They’ve thought of everything for patients, even the pillows on the chairs.”

Trillo said she has been counting the days until she can move her treatment to the new facility.

“I pictured a hospital, you know, with those long confusing hallways … but this is amazing,” she said. “I’m going to have to look up more adjectives to say how much I like it.”

Indeed, everything from the color of the walls to the art to the hospital gowns to the cafe on the bottom floor has been on the wish lists of patients undergoing cancer treatment and care.

Gay Crawford, chairwoman of the Patient and Family Advisory Council, said she carries their wishes on her shoulders.

“We’ve met every month for one and half years,” she said. “This is one stop, one place. So many patients have been driving across town to one appointment or another.”

Crawford herself is a two-time cancer survivor and sits on the board of nonprofit Cancer Care Point, which provides a variety of non-medical support services to patients. She said she understands the challenges patients face and their need to feel at ease as much as possible.

“I want this to be a community resource,” she said. “My sense of community is strong, and my advocacy for the patients is undaunting.”

The nonprofit, located on Samaritan Drive, expects that having the new center nearby will aid its mission of helping cancer patients navigate through the challenges of treatment. Cancer Care Point already serves many patients from Good Samaritan Hospital and other local facilities.

The Stanford center’s four floors contain bright and airy sitting areas, a cafe, new equipment, 21 private exam rooms, two operating rooms and a small library for patients and their families.

Henry Chaikin, a project architect for the center, said he and a team were inspired to bring comfort to patients.

“The idea was to approach this as not so institutional,” he said, “so that it feels good to be here.”

Rather than having patients move from room to room, the center is designed so the care team visits them in exam rooms in hopes of maintaining a calm atmosphere.

Amir Dan Rubin, president and CEO of Stanford Health Care, said he believes the center promotes a patient-centered experience in every way.

“This stunning new facility has been designed with a complete focus on delivering the absolute best in cancer care and compassion to patients and families.”

Jan Willoughby, a board member of Cancer Care Point, called Stanford Cancer Center South Bay “collaboration at its best.”

“This is the vision that we had after interviewing 250 people,” she said. “This is the result of what those patients wanted.”

Stanford Health Care accepts patients from a variety of insurance carriers, including Anthem Blue Cross, Blue Shield of California, Health Net and certain Valley Health plans.