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Hospital construction impacts day care center

Original post made by Parents of Arboretum Daycare, Stanford, on Jun 16, 2011

Stanford has begun building their new children's hospital and with it, a 9-level parking structure less than 60-feet -- the length of about 15 4-year olds head-to-toe -- from our daycare center (CCLC Arboretum, 215 Quarry Road, Stanford, CA 94305). Stanford has already issued warnings to their physicians that construction of the new hospital will result in dust and noise pollution that could negatively impact patient health and encouraged patients to be kept indoors. They have closed off wings of their current hospital to prevent endangering patients and evacuated offices in proximity to construction.

However, when it comes to building next to a daycare, Stanford has little regard for the safety or health of our children. In addition to demolishing playgrounds, they�ve told our daycare to try to "keep the windows closed" and to "encourage indoor play" as much as possible. As a parent and physician, �keeping windows closed� and �encouraging indoor play� is not an effective strategy to prevent exposure to toxic construction materials like lead and asbestos.

CCLC Arboretum has little to offer unfortunately, as they just lease the land that Stanford owns. Many of the daycare staff are outraged, frustrated, and heartbroken over Stanford�s unwillingness to find a workable compromise. Many are contemplating leaving. Our loving daycare community, which many of us think of as an extended family, is being torn apart. It truly seems odd that a building permit for such a large-scale project would be granted in proximity to a children�s day care.

Up to this point, the voices of the parents have fallen on deaf ears. Several meetings with Stanford and their construction company have all been met with: "This is a billion dollar project that will go forward. Let�s do the best we can.� This is clearly unacceptable: the health and well-being of our children are at stake. On an issue as important as our children�s health, �doing the best we can� is not good enough.

We need a voice and hope that you can help.

Stanford is acting irresponsibly, especially for a hospital purported to advocate for the health of children. We must do better.

Thank you very much.

Comments (20)

Posted by Walter_E_Wallis
a resident of Midtown
on Jun 16, 2011 at 4:35 pm

Walter_E_Wallis is a registered user.

Just how do you propose they construct a hospital without dust and noise? I suggest you bus children to local playgrounds for their outdoor exercise.

Posted by palo alto mom
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jun 16, 2011 at 4:49 pm

Have you asked Stanford to temporarily let you use another site (Bing's playground with portables?) It seems unrealistic to expect them to modify their construction plans.

Posted by Hmmm
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Jun 16, 2011 at 8:21 pm

So why are you parents wasting time posting this info here? What do you expect from people here? You have to keep holding Stanford accountable; better yet, get the media to do it for you.

Stanford's worked hard to raise $$ & get permission for this & they're not going to let a bunch of whining parents stop them. So stop whining & take more strategic action, quit acting like victims. For pity's sake, there's got to be one attorney amongst you, your families or your peers. Heck, I live in EPA & have THREE attorneys in my family. You say you're a doctor? Call one of the local news channels. I feel for you, I just don't dig the whiny/victimized tone. Your kids are in daycare in one of the most elite parts of the *world* & you post this? Get to work on Plan B & make it a kicker!

Good luck - I know dealing w/powerful bureaucracy sucks, but if us pathetic EPA ghetto dwellers can cause problems for our former carpetbagging landlords, you all can yank Stanford's chain. Go get 'em!

Posted by Developers rule
a resident of Stanford
on Jun 17, 2011 at 11:21 am

Builders are supposed to mitigate the damage they cause, dust and noise included. The EIR is supposed to discuss this. Very few people read the EIR and Stanford slid by most of the impacts anyway.
Maybe Stanford adheres to the statement in the Vietnam war: sometimes you have to destroy the village in order to save it.
P.S. "palo alto mom" clearly isn't a mother.

Posted by Worried PAUSD parent
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Jun 17, 2011 at 3:48 pm

Very interesting. I have raised this point before (that of potential health hazard) about all the ongoing construction in Palo Alto schools (it's been going on for years and years, including the school year). What about PAUSD student health during all this construction?

No one has other than me has ever seemed to be concerned however... I atill am.

Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton
on Jun 17, 2011 at 4:40 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Hospitals have much more stringent requirements for protection from airborne contamination than do schools or normal individuals because they have patients whose conditions or surgical procedures make them much more susceptible to infection.

Stanford is wisely taking steps to minimize these risks during the planned construction. During prior hospital construction periods certain types of surgery were postponed for this reason.

Posted by Walter_E_Wallis
a resident of Midtown
on Jun 18, 2011 at 6:38 am

Walter_E_Wallis is a registered user.

You don't like it, move your kid.

Posted by Perspective
a resident of Meadow Park
on Jun 18, 2011 at 5:36 pm

Walter, that was my first thought.

Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton
on Jun 18, 2011 at 5:39 pm

As posted on the other thread:

I can find no evidence in the literature of construction using modern materials posing a chemical risk to either the construction workers or to nearby individuals.

Based on my prior experience, I believe what Stanford is concerned about is the fact that construction will disturb the soil at the construction site thereby possibly causing indigenous infectious and fungal material to become airborne. Those indigenous infectious and fungal material pose a potential risk to immune compromised and surgical patients with healing wounds, hence the hospital's abundant caution to its staff on this matter.

Again, I can find no evidence in the literature that such indigenous infectious and fungal material pose a risk to normal individuals. There is a long history of intimate human exposure to construction sites and no data that such exposure has any known risk. If this were not the case there would be, given all the construction that takes place, significant epidemiological data supporting such a risk.

Posted by Hmmm
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Jun 18, 2011 at 7:02 pm

This is where I really sympathize: finding good child care isn't easy. There are always wait lists at Stanford. This isn't rocket surgery, right? Find out how dangerous it really is/isn't & go from there - asap.

Posted by Sarah
a resident of Stanford
on Jun 20, 2011 at 9:59 am

The very least they could do is relocate the center for the duration of the very closest construction (which is < 50 feet away). There are infants and toddlers who can't just be bussed to another playground for heaven's sake. It's really appalling that SUMC ignored SACC in the FEIR. The costs associated with relocating SACC are minimal compared to the overall construction budget.

Posted by Evers
a resident of Mountain View
on Jun 20, 2011 at 2:01 pm

The hospital expansion project is long overdue. City Council members, SUMC, and Stanford University have worked tirelessly to make this project of great benefit. It will be fantastic to have a new, state of the art facility. HOWEVER that said, the daycare needs to be fully relocated. Even if parents were to withdraw their children, if other children were to be enrolled, then they would be at risk of the same exposures. Workers onsite will be required to wear protective gear, but this young children (babies as young as 8 weeks old!)need to have greater protection than "limiting outdoor play." CCLC needs to advocate alongside parents for relocation on the Stanford campus.

Posted by Daniella Perlroth
a resident of College Terrace
on Jun 20, 2011 at 4:02 pm

This shouldn't be happening in our community. We parents (full disclosure - of which I am one) should have been notified WAY in advance of a 2-week "we're going to start demolishing your play yard". Further, upon questioning, the staff of the corporation (CCLC) that runs this day care freely admit that they were told by their bosses and Stanford Work-Life office NOT to let parents know, and that conversations to that effect go back as far as January 2011.

As a parent of 3 boys, all of who have attended this center, I can tell you that it is difficult to find good child care (where you don't have to commute far) on short notice for children ages 4 and under in this community, especially on a budget. Wait lists stretch out months - so YES - in the end, ultimately all of us parents will do the right thing for our children and NOT send them to a construction zone, but we should have had adequate advance notice and evidence in this case suggests information was actively NOT given that was material to our children's health.

Further more, as an infectious diseases physician, I can tell you all it takes is 1 case of Aspergillosis or coccidioidomycosis meningitis - YES in normal, healthy individuals, especially relatively immune compromised infants or children - to remember it for the rest of your life.

So, it ain't gonna be my child sucking that construciton dust. oh, and thanks to you many concerned community folks for your oh-so-empathetic comments.

Daniella Perlroth

Posted by Me Too
a resident of Midtown
on Jun 20, 2011 at 4:24 pm

I'm missing something. No one realized (parents, staff) that there was a big construction project on its way next door? So let's assume some responsible folks were paying attention and knew it was coming. So what's the beef - it can't be that they shouldn't do the project because it inconveniences the daycare center - that isn't supportable. Is it that Stanford should have paid to relocate your day-care center (located on their land I gather) to avoid any exposure to construction dust, etc.? Or ???

Posted by Daniella Perlroth
a resident of College Terrace
on Jun 20, 2011 at 4:38 pm

Warning to the community:

If this 95+ meeting process missed the fact that 140 children were located on project site B - Hoover Pavilion - NOT the main hospital site (we don't think construction over a mile away at the main hospital site is the issue, it's the Hoover Pavilion site B that is 20 feet from where our children are supposed to play outside 2+ hours a day), what else did they miss?

I guess we'll find out over the next decade.

Posted by Me Too
a resident of Midtown
on Jun 20, 2011 at 5:20 pm

So what are you asking them to do? It seems like there is complaining and some fear-mongering, but not sure what constructive path forward you are looking for.

Did no-one realize that construction was coming? Is that the problem?

Posted by Bikes2work
a resident of Santa Rita (Los Altos)
on Jun 20, 2011 at 7:06 pm

This center is only open to Stanford affiliated parents. Web Link

Why should we care? It is your own university that has created this issue. It is your elite institution, not ours. They won't let us in anyway.

Posted by Hmmm
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Jun 21, 2011 at 12:08 am

Many good points. I'm not surprised the work-life balance center helped cover this up, along w/CCLC. I've had dealings w/both, as a professional, not a parent - was completely unimpressed. Couldn't find their bodily appendages w/both hands & a flashlight - the work-life balance blah blah blah center, espec.

This leaves parents w/little time to make other arrangements. It's a mess w/in the Stanford community & should be resolved asap w/in that community. How much time have parents dithered around? I wasn't impressed w/these earlier letters & posts from parents; however, waaaay less impressed w/CCLC & work-life balance idiots. This isn't fair to the parents or the kids, & CCLC blew it - they could've advocated along w/the parents months ago & gotten it all handled in a timely manner. But I also gotta wonder what the parents had been thinking these past few months - that this construction wouldn't effect their lives given the location of the center?

Posted by member
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 21, 2011 at 8:08 am

Demolition of existing utility buildings and excavation for the foundations will create many airborne toxins and chemicals. The abatement of the Hover building will add Asbestos and Lead in the mix. Very few construction workers will be on site for these phases. Those that are will be wearing protective clothing and respirators. It is unreasonable to allow young children to play 60 feet from any construction site. Even ignoring the other dangers from being so close to construction there should be a plan to relocate the children until these phases are complete.

Given that this is a multibillion dollar project intended to expand a children’s hospital surely some-one would consider the health of 140 infants and toddlers. I am sure Stanford has another building that could be used to house the daycare

Posted by Parent
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Jun 21, 2011 at 8:19 am

This is a daycare center for students, faculty, and us regular people who work in and around stanford. We are not Stanford elite, just people with children trying to make a living. It took over a year to get nearby daycare for our kids. The daycare center kept the impending construction quiet. The construction is spread of a few quare miles and the impact to the daycare was kept out of all documentation and meetings with the council. Stanford met with the parents only this last week to tell them.

There is no other daycare available nearby. Without stanfords help I will loose my daycare and in turn my job.

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