Michael Fitzgerald’s patience has paid off – much to the benefit of his El Camino Hospital department’s patients.
Fitzgerald, executive director of Mental Health and Addiction Services, walked into his office on his first day on the job Dec. 9, 2002, and was handed a set of blueprints for the new hospital, set for completion in 2011. It was likely at that time that his department would move to the new facility, but he and his staff remained at the old hospital after determining the new space didn’t meet their patients’ needs for a multitude of reasons.
Nearly 17 years later, Fitzgerald, his colleagues, donors and local residents will gather to celebrate the opening of Taube Pavilion, the program’s new $96.4 million home. A community open house is scheduled 3-5 p.m. Saturday at the new facility, 2590 Grant Road in Mountain View.
“We battled various ups and downs of health-care economics, a recession … but we weathered it,” Fitzgerald said in a phone interview with the Town Crier last week. “At the end of the day, what’s gotten us to this point is the quality of care. Our staff is fantastic. We have a very good reputation with local agencies. … We are very proud of the programs (and the) innovation we have developed.”
The open house will include tours of the 56,000-square-foot Taube Pavilion – home base for the Scrivner Center for Mental Health and Addiction Services – as well as information on all of the programs set to be housed in the building.
Passion behind the pennies
The behavioral health programs, which Fitzgerald described as “unique” and “specific,” are what drives the department’s donor base to give. Tad and Dianne Taube and Doug and Mary Scrivner, two couples with longtime local philanthropy roots, are outliers in the national trend of naming buildings and programs after doctors or longtime patients of hospitals.
“We want their names on this building,” Fitzgerald said of the couples, who committed $10 million to the project between them. “We want people to say, ‘Look, I’m interested and aware enough about the services that I’m going to put my name to a program that provides that care.’ You just don’t see that. … For donors to step in this way is remarkable.”
Los Altos residents John and Donna Shoemaker helped to kick off the fundraising for the Taube Pavilion through chairing the Philanthropy Council for Mental Health. Their consistent donations to the Maternal Outreach Mood Services (MOMS) program in previous years and a $1 million donation toward the pavilion in 2014 were large contributors to making the dream of a new home for mental health services a reality.
The clinical leadership team took no decision lightly, whether it related to fundraising for the 10 specialty programs or transitioning into the new space. They considered moving the Behavioral Health Services department to El Camino Hospital’s Los Gatos campus or modernizing their current building. But the realization hit that they had to build something new or they could not continue to serve the community from their original 60-year-old space.
“The building has been marked for demolition and had many problems, but I don’t want to say anything bad,” Fitzgerald said of the old El Camino Hospital building, noting that the facility had more than fulfilled its purpose. “It served so many people, but it outlived its life and it was time to go.”
Developing a multipurpose design
Taube Pavilion – set to open to patients by the end of the year or early next, according to El Camino Hospital spokeswoman Jennifer Thrift – was designed with forward-thinking features in mind. The facility’s 36 beds are divided among three areas – 12 beds will be dedicated to a behavioral focus unit for women, 15-18 to mood disorders and 6-9 to El Camino Hospital’s Maternal Outreach Mood Services patients struggling with prenatal or postnatal depression or anxiety. But the design offers the department the flexibility to break the space into six dedicated treatment areas or, in times of changing community need, even one large unit, according to Fitzgerald.
The architecture aims to create a welcoming, destigmatized feel, Fitzgerald said, bolstering the department’s hope that more women will check in to seek care without fear of their privacy being breached.
“Confidentiality is maintained. … The windows are configured so patients can look out but (no one else) can look in,” he said. “They bring in wonderful light, and patients can look into the garden. … A lot of thought obviously went into that.”
No expense was spared to make the building feel like a hotel, Fitzgerald said, with individual patient rooms, wide hallways and visiting areas. Three outdoor patios, each named for a donor, incorporate the surrounding landscape and offer a peaceful retreat.
“We went with (the more expensive options) because it was the right thing to do,” he said. “That was the vision of the organization. We are going to do this, and we are going to do it right.”
To register for the Taube Pavilion open house, visit elcaminohealth.org/stay-healthy/class/taube-pavilion-scrivner-center-mental-health.