Palo Alto History
The ambulatory surgical center has proven itself to be an indispensible component of Sutter Health and the Palo Alto Medical Foundation in its commitment to provide exceptional and affordable care to our patients. But this has not always been the case. Prior to 1975, when most surgical procedures were still being performed in the inpatient/hospital setting, outpatient surgery was essentially non-existent.
The Palo Alto Medical Clinic (PAMC), which would later give birth to the Palo Alto Medical Foundation, was one of the earliest institutions to recognize that outpatient surgery for many patients could provide service that was every bit as safe, and far more convenient and affordable, than care being delivered in the inpatient settings.
In 1976,PAMC partnered with a Phoenix, Arizona-based firm to open one of the nation’s first freestanding ambulatory surgery centers.. The center, called Surgecenter of Palo Alto, was the first of its kind on the West Coast. Key to the success of its inception was Lynn Winchester, MD, an anesthesiologist at PAMC, who worked tirelessly and successfully to show that surgery performed in the ambulatory setting was every bit as safe as it was in the hospital environment for the appropriate patient.
The Surgecenter of Palo Alto was the site of the nation’s first hernia repair performed as an outpatient by Dr. R. Hewlett Lee, long time PAMC physician and son of Dr. Russel V. Lee, founder of PAMC in the 1930’s.
Over time, the variety and acuity of procedures performed in the ambulatory setting has expanded significantly at PAMF, and our centers have proven consistently that outpatient surgery provides patients with the highest level of quality and safety combined with unrivaled convenience and affordability.