UC Irvine's newly renamed hospital in Orange
UC Irvine's newly renamed hospital in Orange was, according to Chancellor Michael Drake, "made possible by the incredible generosity of the M.A. Douglas estate and other supporters." Steve Zylius / University Communications

The hospital at UC Irvine Medical Center this week was officially renamed UC Irvine Douglas Hospital in honor of local businessman M.A. Douglas, whose estate donated $21 million to the new medical facility after his death in 2008 at age 97.

On Wednesday, Oct. 27, about 200 community leaders and UCI officials, physicians, nurses and other healthcare workers gathered at Orange County’s only university hospital to honor Douglas and view a tribute in the lobby featuring videos, artifacts from his life and a sculpted bust. After several speakers highlighted the importance of the posthumous gift, attendees watched a short time-lapse movie of the installation of the new UC Irvine Douglas Hospital sign now on the building.

The transformative donation from Douglas’ estate enabled UC Irvine to reach its $50 million fundraising goal for the new structure.

Friends remember Douglas, a successful Orange County real estate developer, as a man of integrity, compassion and decency – qualities mirrored by his namesake hospital. His gift, the largest single cash donation in UCI history, represents a fitting legacy for someone who always aspired to make a difference.

“He was all about commitment and responsibility,” said Michael Hayde, trustee of the Douglas estate and a friend and former business partner. “I can’t think of a better way to honor him than by naming this wonderful facility UC Irvine Douglas Hospital.”

Hayde added: “The gift from the Douglas estate benefits thousands of families who use this hospital. Given that his business was founded in this county, it’s an appropriate connection with his life here.”

At UC Irvine Douglas Hospital – the nucleus of UC Irvine Medical Center – world-renowned physicians make lifesaving discoveries. Doctors teach residents and medical students to diagnose and treat the most complex conditions. And teams of physicians, nurses, specialists and others provide expert, compassionate care.

UC Irvine doctors have access to the world’s most advanced medical technologies. For instance, one of the facility’s 19 operating rooms houses the area’s only intraoperative magnetic resonance imaging scanner, which greatly improves outcomes for patients with brain tumors by producing highly detailed, three-dimensional pictures of the brain during all phases of an operation.

Bathed in natural light to create a calming, therapeutic environment, UC Irvine Douglas Hospital was among the first in Southern California to earn Joint Commission certification for top-quality stroke and cardiac care and has twice received Magnet designation for nursing excellence.

The building, which opened in March 2009, replaced a nearly 50-year-old facility that no longer met California’s strict seismic standards. It features the county’s only American College of Surgeons-verified regional burn center and Level I trauma center. For 10 consecutive years, U.S. News & World Report has included UC Irvine Medical Center on its list of America’s Best Hospitals – in 2010 giving special recognition to its urology, gynecology, and ear, nose & throat programs.

“We have always had great doctors, outstanding nurses and a dedicated staff,” Chancellor Michael Drake said. “Now their excellence and commitment to patient care is supported by this incredible, state-of-the-art facility, made possible by the incredible generosity of the M.A. Douglas estate and other supporters.”

On Wednesday, he read a congratulatory letter from University of California President Mark G. Yudof.

“This magnificent gift is transforming healthcare in Orange County, with the University of California and the local community the fortunate recipients of lifesaving research, brilliant teaching and exceptional patient care made possible by it,” Yudof wrote.

A Colorado native, Douglas worked for more than three decades at B.F. Goodrich before becoming a real estate developer. In 1963, the former resident of Anaheim Hills founded IPS, which built and managed more than 10,000 housing units, mainly in Orange County. Douglas retired in 1981.