Stanford Cancer Center celebrates a decade as hub of treatment

Photo by Robert Canfield

Cancer patients’ experience at Stanford was transformed with the opening of a state-of-the-art, 218,000-square-foot medical building in 2004.

For a decade, the ambulatory outpatient clinic has brought together all of Stanford Medicine’s cancer specialties under one roof. It has given physicians space to work and gather, and fostered a new level of collaboration. And it has done so in an environment designed to bring humanity to cancer care.

“Our goal is for Stanford to own the complexity of care coordination, and allow our cancer patients and their families to focus on the healing,” said AMIR DAN RUBIN, president and CEO of Stanford Hospital & Clinics. “This beautiful building and our superb faculty and staff are instrumental in us attaining that goal.”

As the Stanford Cancer Center celebrates its 10th anniversary of serving patients, many of those involved in its planning, construction and operation reflected on the milestone.

“Stanford already had an incredible multidisciplinary approach to cancer,” recalled CHARLOTTE JACOBS, professor emerita of oncology, who led the effort from 1993 until 2001 to design and build the center. “But we needed a building to reflect the way we already practiced.”

Indeed, when Stanford broke ground on the building on Sept. 4, 2001, Jacobs spoke of the achievement as being much more than a building. “It is the vision of our faculty and staff cast in bricks and mortar,” she said. “It is an embodiment of our cancer faculty. It reflects their multidisciplinary approach to cancer, their zest for discovery, their superb clinical expertise and their dedication and concern for patients.”

Patients had long come to Stanford for its expertise in oncology. But until 10 years ago, it could be a challenging experience: Patients would have to navigate across campus and the hospital to receive care in multiple locations. Waiting rooms on the ground floor of the hospital were crowded, often standing-room only. There were long waits for exam rooms. The infusion room for bone marrow transplant patients resembled a walk-in closet. And there was no natural light in the radiation oncology area. “It was a warren of dark rooms that did not address the inner needs and struggles of cancer patients,” said PHILIP PIZZO,  professor of pediatrics and of microbiology and immunology, and former dean of the medical school.

BEVERLY MITCHELL, director of the Stanford Cancer Institute, recognizes the foresight and vision of those who came before her. “There was the recognition that cancer patients deserved a special environment, and that Stanford needed to deliver on that,” said Mitchell, professor of oncology and of hematology, who came to Stanford in 2005. “It has really improved the atmosphere for cancer patients to have this light-filled building, with music in the lobby and dedicated clinic space. It has made a huge difference for our patients.”

 — BY GRACE HAMMERSTROM, Stanford Hospital & Clinics

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