University Hospital at UC Irvine Medical Center opens its doors in March.

The March 2009 opening of UC Irvine’s University Hospital heralds a new chapter in healthcare for the people of Orange County.

Already home to the county’s only Level I trauma center, regional burn center and maternal-neonatal high-risk program, University Hospital in Orange will offer the latest medical technologies and strengthen UC Irvine Healthcare’s ability to provide the highest quality therapies and treatments.

The hospital will feature 236 mostly private patient rooms and 19 high-tech operating rooms. It expands the burn center and increases the neonatal care unit’s ability to handle high-risk and multiple births. The building will bring UC Irvine Medical Center’s total number of patient beds to 427.

“The new University Hospital will provide unparalleled services, superbly trained physicians and compassionate care in a welcoming, spacious environment designed for optimal healing and comfort,” said Dr. David N. Bailey, health affairs vice chancellor. “As the centerpiece of Orange County’s only university medical center, the hospital also will train the health professionals of tomorrow and offer treatments based on the latest discoveries.”

Top patient care

University Hospital will be home to top physicians and patient care practices.

It will feature one of the nation’s most advanced centers for minimally invasive surgery, an area in which UCI has long been a leader. UCI was California’s first medical center to use the daVinci robotic system, according to Dr. Ralph Clayman, chair of urology. Computer-enhanced and physician-operated, the system allows surgeons to make tiny incisions and operate in a manner that reduces recovery time and hospital stays.

Operating rooms also will accommodate a sophisticated MRI machine that gives surgeons real-time, 3-dimensional views of a patient’s brain during surgery and enables new levels of precision. It is the region’s only intra-operative magnetic resonance imaging scanner, said Dr. Mark Linskey, neurosurgery chair.

Construction a ‘model of success’

University Hospital has set new standards for cost-efficient design and construction. The seven-story, $555.9-million hospital was completed on budget and four months ahead of schedule – a full two years faster than other California hospitals. The 482,428-square-foot building replaces the existing main hospital built in 1960.

Hospitals are among the most complicated structures to design and build. They must accommodate constantly changing medical technology, ensure an infection and pathogen-free environment and incorporate seismic codes that enable them to remain standing after a 9.0 magnitude earthquake.

To keep the complex project running smoothly, UCI employed innovative programs. For example, a 3-dimensional computer modeling tool was used to root out potential design conflicts and avoid expensive rebuilding or rewiring entire sections of the hospital. The practice, rare when the project began, is now standard in public building design.

Medical center leadership also worked closely with state regulators.

“Building a hospital is a collaboration between the hospital, designers and regulatory entities,” said Dr. David Carlisle, head of the Office of Statewide Health Planning and Development. “We intend to use this positive experience to improve the efficiency of other hospital projects statewide.”

“With a knowledgeable team, UC Irvine worked proactively with OSHPD and managed their project efficiently,” he said.

Chancellor Michael Drake, M.D., said the effort, led by Wendell Brase, administrative and business affairs vice chancellor, and Rebekah Gladson, campus architect, advanced at a record pace even as other university building projects demanded their time and energy.

“Completing construction early on a complex development like an academic medical center is a remarkable achievement,” Drake said.


  • Size: 482,428 square feet, seven stories (plus basement)
  • Budget: $555.9 million
  • Beds: 236, bringing total to 427 in the UC Irvine Medical Center
  • Neonatal intensive care: 30-bed unit, with plans to add 15 more beds in 2009
  • Operating rooms: 15 rooms that are 50 percent larger than those currently in use, with four additional rooms planned
  • Cardiac care: two dedicated cardiac catheterization lab suites
  • Work spaces: conference rooms and collaborative work spaces for residents on each patient care floor


  • Family friendly environment
  • MRI technology
  • High-tech surgical rooms
  • Room service-style food
  • Upgraded infection control measures
  • Improved neonatal intensive care unit
  • Expanded eight-bed burn unit – University Hospital adds two more beds to the county’s only regional burn center
  • Trauma center
  • Meditation pastoral care
  • Seismic safety