Mike Koozmin/The S.F. ExaminerOpening Sunday

Mike Koozmin/The S.F. ExaminerOpening Sunday

SF’s first stand-alone children’s hospital set to open

Step inside the new children's hospital in San Francisco and it might feel more like you are at the Exploratorium.

That is exactly what officials at the UC San Francisco Benioff Children's Hospital San Francisco want patients to experience with its light-shadow installation and rotating art exhibits in the lobby.

The facility is The City's first stand-alone children's hospital, and it is one of three new UCSF hospitals that will open Sunday as part of a $1.5 billion medical center at Mission Bay.

“In a children's hospital, you put in a lot of things for fun, but that's part of the health care treatment,” said Kim Scurr, executive director of UCSF Benioff Children's Hospital San Francisco.

The difference between the current children's hospital, located on three floors of the 15-floor UCSF Parnassus Campus, is more than just space. Colors and technology are abundant within the 183-bed, mural-splashed walls.

Every element of the facility — including the teen lounge, various outdoor spaces and a cable car bell that rings when a child's treatment is complete — was designed with input from staff and patients and their families.

“To have an entire building dedicated to children and children's needs, and built really with their needs and their families' needs in mind, is huge,” Scurr said. “Every world-class city has a beautiful children's hospital, and now San Francisco has one.”

Though a separate facility, the children's hospital is connected to the UCSF Betty Irene Moore Women's Hospital and UCSF Bakar Cancer Hospital. The entire 878,000-gross-square-foot complex — situated at UCSF's 60.2-acre Mission Bay research campus — spans two city blocks.

On Sunday, after more than a decade of planning and construction, some 40 ambulances will transfer around 150 patients from the UCSF Parnassus and Mount Zion campuses to the new site at Mission Bay. That amounts to moving one patient approximately every four minutes.

Hospital officials say the medical complex is more than ready to open. Health care workers have conducted three day-in-the-life drills, most recently Jan. 15, to prepare for the opening.

“What Mission Bay offers is the ability to be adjacent to our research campus,” Scurr said. “For all of the discovery in treatments and cures … to go from the research bench to the bedside is really invaluable.”

Empowering the patient was a key focus in designing the three new hospitals.

Each room is equipped with a 65-inch flat-screen TV featuring OneView, a software program that is essentially a one-stop shop to connect patients with their latest medical information, including their health care team, among other features that include Skype and ordering food. The system is controlled by the patient via a bedside tablet.

“It can be really confusing when people come in and out and introduce themselves to you,” Scurr said of hospitalized patients who are often visited by a variety of nurses and doctors each day. “Now you have their picture, which is helpful.”

UCSF is the third hospital in the U.S. to use the OneView technology and the first to implement it to such an extent, Scurr said.

“The key goal to this is to empower patients,” Phillip Urrea, OneView's chief technology officer, said of the software.

Customizing an individual patient's experience is an element practiced throughout the hospitals. The three MRI rooms each allow the patient to pick a theme while they undergo the procedure, which can take up to an hour and a half.

The six-floor facility includes expanded units and opportunities for enhanced treatment, hospital officials said. Additionally, interactive mobile science exhibits designed by the Exploratorium art and science museum can be wheeled in to a patient's room for private playtime.

The medical center will also feature the only operating hospital helicopter pad in San Francisco to transport critically ill babies, children and pregnant women from outlying hospitals. Patients requiring air transport are currently flown to San Francisco International Airport.

The opening of the hospitals also marks a significant milestone for the Mission Bay neighborhood, which only a decade ago was largely undeveloped. Today, the area is a growing hub for biotech science, and the Warriors are planning to build a basketball arena there that would open near the end of the decade.

“People in San Francisco should be incredibly proud of the Mission Bay hospitals,” Scurr said. “It's a huge day for UCSF.”

Bay Area NewsMission BayUC San FranciscoUCSF Medical Center

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