High-tech Helford Clinical Research Hospital gives patients a new lease on life

Duarte 15 July 2005City of Hope National Medical Center has opened one of the nation's most technologically advanced research hospitals on July 15, 2005. The 347.000-square foot, $200 million Helford Clinical Research Hospital at City of Hope is designed to advance research into cancer and other life-threatening diseases. Featuring some of the latest treatments and most advanced equipment, Helford Hospital will further City of Hope's ability to develop promising medical advances for patients battling serious diseases.


Annually, more than 300 clinical studies are being conducted at the institution and approximately 30 to 40 percent of eligible City of Hope patients are enrolled in a clinical trial, nearly double the usual percentage at other cancer centres.

The hospital is located on City of Hope's Duarte campus in close proximity to research laboratories, allowing for regular contact between scientists and clinicians which will facilitate translational research, the conversion of basic science discoveries into novel diagnostic methods and treatment regimens for patients.

"Helford Hospital represents City of Hope's commitment to the world of medical research and the health of people everywhere", stated James S. Miser, M.D., chief executive officer and chief medical officer, City of Hope National Medical Center. "The facility is the result of collaboration among physicians, researchers, nurses, administrators, patients and caregivers, all of whom worked to create an optimal environment for patient care and clinical research. We believe patients will benefit not only from City of Hope's leading-edge treatments but from the hospital's healing environment."

The 144-bed hospital will treat patients diagnosed with various types of cancers including leukemia, lymphoma, lung cancer, breast cancer, colorectal cancer and prostate cancer. Helford Hospital will house one of the nation's largest and most successful haematopoietic cell transplantation programmes.

Helford Hospital was designed with the assistance of patients, family members, nurses and medical staff, who provided feedback after inspecting a life-size model of the floor plan. The "insider input" allowed architects to create a design that facilitates interaction between patients, nurses, physicians and other caregivers.

In addition, the hospital features innovative technology designed to provide better outcomes and safer, more efficient care. Among the hospital's major technological appointments are:

  • Six technologically advanced surgical suites that accommodate the latest in robotics and computer technology, including real-time audio-visual set-ups for consultations and teaching.
  • State-of-the-art diagnostic and interventional radiological services which provide physicians and patients with the latest imaging equipment available.
  • A wireless alarm notification system that captures a patient's vital signs and transmits them directly to nurses, ensuring life-critical information reaches caregivers within seconds. The StatView RespondNow system is fully integrated into Helford Hospital's monitoring systems and is designed to speed response time and enhance decision-making.
  • The Picture Archiving and Communication System (PACS) allows for storage of digital images and viewing by any computer within the hospital, as well as by outside specialists.
  • A specialized air filtration system featuring 15 air changes per hour for every room - one of the highest in the nation.
  • Antimicrobial air ductwork designed to help reduce the risk of infection caused by bacteria.
  • New "smart" intravenous pumps offer the latest and safest technology for medication delivery. The pumps include Guardrails that act as virtual parameters to ensure medication is delivered in an appropriate dosage, reducing the chance for medication errors.

The facility was designed and constructed to reduce patient anxiety and isolation and to allow closer contact and monitoring of patients by medical staff. All 144 individual patient rooms are equipped with headwalls featuring a highly advanced communication system for intense monitoring of patients. Patients have the ability to direct calls to appropriate hospital staff depending on their specific need.

Patient rooms are large enough to allow several visitors and are equipped with a comfortable sleeper chair for an overnight guest. All rooms have Internet access. "Family-friendly" features are incorporated into the design, including lounges, libraries, kitchens and family centres to provide patients and their loved ones with a home-like experience. Natural lighting and views of the San Gabriel Mountains and Valley create a soothing environment.

Medical experts believe these special features and others included in Helford Hospital's design help provide an environment that addresses emotional and spiritual needs. The hospital was designed by NBBJ, a global architecture and design firm specializing in health care facilities. Construction of the facility was fueled by a $36 million gift from longtime City of Hope supporters Irwin Helford, chairman emeritus, Viking Office Products Inc., and his wife, Betty, the largest gift ever to the institution.

City of Hope National Medical Center is one of the world's leading research and treatment centres for cancer, diabetes, HIV/AIDS and other life-threatening diseases. City of Hope is a pioneer in the fields of bone marrow transplantation and genetics. Founded in 1913, City of Hope is a Comprehensive Cancer Center, the highest designation bestowed by the National Cancer Institute, and a founding member of the National Comprehensive Cancer Network. City of Hope's scientific knowledge is shared with medical centres locally and globally, helping patients battling life-threatening diseases around the corner and around the world.

Leslie Versweyveld

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