OAKLAND -- Kaiser's new 12-story hospital in Oakland stretches the length of a football field and has private rooms for every patient with room service and Wi-Fi.
Employees preparing for the hospital's Tuesday opening say their Fitbit devices are easily measuring 10,000 steps a day in the 1-million-square-foot building. Although the hospital is equipped with new state-of-the-art facilities, the same staff will provide care.
"The combination of those great people and this new venue," said Dr. John Loftus, physician-in-chief, "is just going to elevate our care to a new level."
Nelle Neighbor-Alonzo is one of those people. She volunteers at the old hospital's information desk, where 70 years ago, she was the first baby born in the incomplete maternity ward.
"They put me in a clothes basket," she said, because there were no cribs yet. "They just found an empty room."
Next month, she will also work at the new hospital's information desk, which has a touch-screen directory. It provides not only a floor and room number, but also a red arrow that directs the user en route to the destination.
"The old hospital was kind of patchwork put together," Neighbor-Alonzo said, "and this one is planned perfectly and beautiful."
The pediatric unit, which will serve as a regional hub for Northern California, is not separate from the rest of the hospital and offers the same specialty services as any other children's hospital.
Technology as an amenity is a big feature of the new building. On the first floor, artwork that children create will be scanned and displayed on a monitor near the elevators. Another touch screen lets users click through the history of Kaiser Permanente and click on educational videos on health topics ranging from HIV to healthy shopping. Visitors waiting in the cafeteria can look at a monitor to stay in the loop on a patient's status.
On the clinical side, the hospital is the first medical center in California to have an intra-operative magnetic resonance imaging system, Loftus said. It is an advanced imaging technology that neurosurgeons can use during surgery on patients' brains.
"Their heads are still opened up," while physicians can examine the MRI images, said Dr. Jorge Gutierrez, assistant physician-in-chief for pediatric services. Getting results in real time means surgeries can be performed more efficiently.
"A lot of the new technology here makes surgeries safer," Loftus said. For example, the new hybrid operating room with a special fluoroscopic imaging machine decreases anesthesia exposure.
In the old hospital, the physical rehabilitation room was small and pediatrics did not have one. So they made do.
"We did a lot of walking in the hallways and stairwells," Gutierrez said.
The new building has a rehab space for kids and a larger one for adults.
Another major change is the 349 beds in private rooms. Each patient will have his or her own room, with an interactive care board that allows patients to see what nurses and doctors see, and to watch TV, to find movies, to access health education videos and order meals.
"It's just a better healing environment for patients to have their own rooms," Loftus said. "We're trying to make it easier in a lot of different ways."
The rooms also have full baths, pullout beds for visitors and grand views of the East Bay, the bay, its bridges and San Francisco. Pediatric rooms are decorated with playful themes, such as Under The Sea and Treasure Island.
A lot of thought also went into the artwork, mostly done by local artists and students, on the walls in hallways and patient rooms. On the children's floor, some pieces have tactile features for younger children at the bottom and continue to engage age appropriately moving up.
The 24-hour emergency department has 52 private treatment bays, eight labor and delivery rooms and 14 inpatient operating rooms.
At the end of this year, Kaiser will begin razing the old hospital and is discussing what will replace it, said Claude Watts, chief operating officer.
Kaiser invested $2 billion in the building of new hospitals in Oakland, San Leandro and Redwood City. San Leandro Medical Center opened June 3. Redwood City Medical Center opens in December.