Amid a massive construction overhaul of El Camino Hospital's Mountain View campus, hospital officials are considering a small but compassionate addition to the plans: a home for patients to stay.
El Camino officials are studying the idea of transforming a small single-family home near the southwest corner of the campus into a patient family residence, giving families and patients a comfortable place to stay during prolonged visits to the hospital. The feasibility study is expected to be completed as early as next month, and the price tag for the project is estimated to be about $2.5 million.
Right now, there's really nowhere for visiting families to spend the night, said Ken King, the hospital's chief administrative services officer. Years ago, families could stay in apartments located behind the hospital, but that was prior to construction of the Melchor Pavilion, home of the hospital's Heart and Vascular Institute. Without an alternative, families traveling to El Camino from out of town face either a long, daily trek or spending hundreds of dollars to stay in a hotel.
"We have families with children and loved ones in the hospital for long, extended periods of time," King said. "It would be a real benefit to them to have a place that's close and didn't cost a fortune or require them go long distances."
The property itself is about 1.75 acres of land owned by the El Camino Healthcare District, which includes a small, older single-story home and an adjacent acre of land leased out to St. Francis High School for parking. The existing home is used by the hospital's RoadRunners transportation program, and would need to be rebuilt, King said.
Hospital staff are exploring the idea of having the nonprofit JW House operate the home, which runs a similar facility on the Kaiser Permanente Santa Clara Medical Center campus. Last year, JW House provided nearly 1,000 families with a place to stay during the day, as well as overnight lodging for 278 families, according to the nonprofit's annual report. Families are asked to pay a subsidized amount for each night -- $40 -- but the fee is waived if the family can't afford it.
JW House is in "early discussions" with El Camino Hospital about the possible partnership, said Terri Chapman, president of the JW House's board of directors. If the hospital does move forward with a patient family residence, Chapman said it would be an exciting opportunity to expand the nonprofit's services and provide a much-needed second location in Silicon Valley for overnight stays.
"The demand is very high in this area for these types of services," Chapman said.
Space has been tight at JW House's Santa Clara facility in recent years, with increasing demand for limited space for overnight stays, Chapman said. Last year JW House had to turn down 162 families who qualified because the home was at full capacity. Although JW House is located on the Kaiser campus, nearly half of the families that rely on its services came from other nearby hospitals.
The Ronald McDonald House on the Stanford campus serves a similar purpose. To handle its long waiting list, it expanded to double its capacity, a project that was completed last year.
The El Camino Healthcare District's board of directors has yet to discuss or vote on a patient family residence, and have not considered the idea beyond a line item for budget projections, King said. It could take anywhere from one year to 18 months to get the project through the approval process with the city of Mountain View.
Hospital staff are considering the patient family residence as an addition to numerous facility upgrades already in motion on the Mountain View campus. El Camino recently broke ground on its new behavioral health facility, and just completed site utility work for a seven-story medical office building near the center of its campus.