Inside Silicon Valley's new "smart" hospital

September 22, 2009 8:11:44 PM PDT
Silicon Valley has a new and improved hospital. The media got a preview of El Camino Hospital in Mountain View on Tuesday. Seismically speaking, it is one of the safest hospitals in Northern California. It is also billed as a "smart" hospital.

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. It took $470 million to design and build El Camino Hospital. That money was also used to bring in new technology making it a so-called smart hospital. Once inside, it promises to wow you.

"It's a tug robot and it's carrying a medication cart," said Ken King, VP of facilities services, as he demonstrated one of the hospital's new high-tech devices. "This is a lockable medication cart that is controlled-access, so it can only be opened by the person it was sent to."

Those robots will also deliver linen, medical supplies and even food.

A patient's information is accessible to doctors from practically anywhere, including their homes.

"That allows for quicker diagnosis," said King. "It allows for them to communicate with staff at all hours of the day and night relative to care issues."

Almost everything is designed to be off the floor, making it safer to walk around. This also keeps the number of infections down.

"Things that are on the floors have wheels, they track things, so as many things as we can get off the floor we can keep the infection control under control and have a clean environment," said King.

There are 399 beds there. Most of the rooms were designed with the help of the nurses.

"Nurses would come down and they would play different scenarios in the room and then they would come back and give us feedback of what needed to be changed, what wouldn't work," explained Diana Russell, chief of clinical operations.

The beds in the critical care unit can help nurses translate information in 22 languages, including Russian. The staff will communicate using hands-free devices.

The hospital now complies with the state's Seismic Safety Act.

"The core structure of this building is about three times as big as the old hospital, as far as steel and concrete. The law requires us to remain operational after an earthquake, not just still standing, but we need to be operational," said CEO Ken Graham.

The hospital opens in November.

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