Letter: Need for hospital

June 19th, 2009

Palo Alto Weekly,


As a long-time resident of the Palo Alto area, I am well aware of the complex issues facing our community in terms of both needed growth and quality of life. We are fortunate to have the unique combination of natural and architectural beauty, high-quality arts programming, cutting-edge technology, a superb university and world-class medical care all readily available to us.

As a community, we struggle to maintain these resources that make living here so attractive while at the same time addressing the needs of an increasingly diverse population and the challenges of providing adequate housing for our civil servants and others who work here.

The current hospital and medical-school buildings were built during the Eisenhower era and are both seriously outdated and inadequate.

My personal example illustrates the need for improving the size and patient capacity within the Medical Center. This past July, I severely dislocated and broke three bones in my ankle. The ambulance was unable to bring me to Stanford Hospital even though I am a faculty member and live on campus because it was overcrowded and not accepting any more trauma patients.

I was rerouted to the ER at El Camino Hospital. This rerouting adversely affected the quality of medical care in several ways. First, my surgeon who has been caring for me and my family members for many years is not on staff at El Camino and could not take care of me.

Second, the increased time involved led to some vascular compromise of my foot, particularly problematic since I am diabetic.

Third, the nature of the injury required urgent surgery which had to be postponed until the next day because my surgeon could not operate at El Camino Hospital.

Fortunately the outcome of the injury is good, despite the delays that the overcrowded emergency room caused. The new hospital will have an emergency room that is three times its current size but expects only 20 percent increase in patient load. This will mean that trauma patients will not have to be rerouted, which is extremely important since Stanford is the only ER in the area rated as a major trauma center.

In addition, stroke and heart-attack patients will be able to get state-of-the-art care in a timely manner, which is crucial for effective care of these conditions. Patients waiting for admission to the hospital will no longer have to linger on gurneys in the halls of the emergency room, waiting for a bed to become available. As shown in the recently submitted updated proposal, the new hospital will be of benefit to Palo Alto in many ways.

I sincerely hope that the Palo Alto City Council can recognize the importance of approval of the Stanford project, not only to maintain the quality of Stanford’s medical reputation but also for the service and quality of care it provides all our citizens.

Terry Winograd