Irvine, Calif., Jan. 21, 2021 — Plans to build a world-class, acute care hospital on the northern edge of the University of California, Irvine academic campus advanced significantly today, as the University of California Board of Regents granted approval of the project’s 144-bed acute care facility, ambulatory care center and cancer center.
The hospital joins the previously approved UCI Health Center for Advanced Care to create the new UCI Medical Center-Irvine, a full-service academic health complex that will bring a broad spectrum of the most advanced healthcare services to coastal and southern Orange County, including access to the hundreds of clinical trials underway at UCI Health. The medical center will connect with the UCI Health primary care network throughout Orange County, including its newest clinic in Newport Beach, creating the region’s only health system supported by one of the nation’s premier academic research institutions.
The new UCI Health medical campus will complement the flagship UCI Medical Center in Orange, home to Orange County’s principal tertiary-quaternary care center; only combined Level I adult and Level II pediatric trauma and regional burn centers; and specialty care at the UCI Health Digestive Health Institute and the Chao Family Comprehensive Cancer Center, the county’s only National Cancer Institute-designated comprehensive cancer center.
“With today’s approval by the regents, UCI takes a giant leap toward fulfilling the visionary expansion of our campus and enhancing service to the community,” said Chancellor Howard Gillman. “Once this project is completed, the UCI healthcare system will be unparalleled in this region, with two advanced medical centers, nationally recognized research units conducting hundreds of clinical trials, and a network of community locations stretching to all corners of Orange County. In addition to the extraordinary healthcare provided at the medical center, the surrounding grounds of UCI’s north campus will offer educational programs, academic research, art and beautiful nature trails. It will be a place to nurture health and lifelong wellbeing – truly advancing the three cornerstones of the university’s mission of teaching, research and public service.”
The new medical center will be the home of the Center for Children’s Health, wellness programs, urgent and emergency care, specialty disciplines, research and clinical trials, and lifesaving surgical and acute care. Construction is expected to begin later this year with the groundbreaking for the UCI Health Center for Advanced Care, a multicare facility that will house the Center for Children’s Health, medical offices and an urgent care operation.
The hospital will focus on key clinical programs such as oncology, neurology, neurosurgery, orthopedics and digestive health, and it will include a 24-hour emergency department. The first patients are expected in late 2022 in the UCI Health Center for Advanced Care, pending legal and regulatory approvals, and the hospital is set for completion in 2025. Costs for the complete project are expected to exceed $1 billion, funded by philanthropic donations, retained earnings and revenue from UCI Health operations. The project already has received philanthropic funding and will continue to seek further investment from community partners.
“The new medical center will be a hub for discovery, teaching and healing, building on a long history of multidisciplinary engagement that only an academic health system can provide,” said Dr. Steve Goldstein, vice chancellor for health affairs. “Adjacent to the UCI academic campus, including the Susan & Henry Samueli College of Health Sciences, the new medical center will be a short walk from some of the world’s most prominent researchers, scholars and entrepreneurs. Talented medical professionals will have access to the vast knowledge found at the university – from STEM fields to humanities, art and social sciences. Integrating this comprehensive expertise will create an extraordinary healthcare experience centered on the highest-quality prevention and treatment.”
Chad Lefteris, CEO of UCI Health, said that the combination of exceptional patient care, the most advanced technology, an accessible location, and proximity to research and innovation will truly benefit the residents of coastal and southern Orange County.
“No other health system in the county is powered by one of the world’s finest academic research institutions: the University of California,” he said. “Our goal is to make this expertise easily available to everyone in Orange County.”
The hospital and the UCI Health Center for Advanced Care – together spanning nearly 800,000 gross square feet – will be the centerpiece of proposed redeveloped north campus, a 202-acre collection of healing gardens, naturescapes and a research preserve within the San Joaquin Marsh Reserve.
UCI Medical Center-Irvine is also expected to contribute to the local economy by creating upward of 2,500 healthcare and construction jobs, attracting out-of-area healthcare professionals and patients to the region, and providing vendor and partnership opportunities for Orange County-based businesses.
As a university internationally known for its stewardship of the natural environment, UCI requires that the medical center serve as a model for sustainable design. The heating and cooling system will be fully electric, fueled by UCI green power rather than traditional fossil fuel combustion. Precious freshwater will be saved by using recycled water in the central utility plant and for irrigation of low-water-demand plantings. High-performance glazing and building insulation will make lighting and air conditioning more efficient.
In addition, a 150-foot biological buffer will be established between the project site and the San Joaquin Marsh Reserve in consultation with UCI biologists. No physical structures will be built within this buffer, and the San Joaquin Marsh will continue to serve as a protected site for teaching and research with the oversight of UCI Nature, through the UCI Office of Research.
UCI is committed to the long-term management, enhancement and protection of the San Joaquin Marsh Reserve under the leadership of UCI scientists and supervision of the University of California’s Natural Reserve System. Faculty and staff biologists from UCI Nature and the UCI Center for Environmental Biology, as well as appropriate government and community stakeholders, are advising the north campus team throughout the planning and design process, helping to ensure that sound habitat and watershed management of the San Joaquin Marsh Reserve is addressed.
All stages of project planning and construction on the north campus site will meet or exceed the 2019 UC Sustainable Practices Policy goals and ensure stewardship of the natural environment surrounding the complex. In accordance with California Environmental Quality Act guidelines and UC guidelines for the implementation of CEQA, an initial study by UCI found that the project will have little impact on the environment.
About UCI Health: UCI Health comprises the clinical enterprise of the University of California, Irvine. Patients can access UCI Health at primary and specialty care offices across Orange County and at its flagship campus, UCI Medical Center in Orange, Calif. The 418-bed acute care hospital provides tertiary and quaternary care, ambulatory and specialty medical clinics, and behavioral health and rehabilitation services. UCI Medical Center features Orange County’s only National Cancer Institute-designated comprehensive cancer center, high-risk perinatal/neonatal program and American College of Surgeons-verified Level I adult and Level II pediatric trauma center and regional burn center. It is the primary teaching hospital for the UCI School of Medicine. UCI Health serves a region of nearly 4 million people in Orange County, western Riverside County and southeast Los Angeles County. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter.
About the University of California, Irvine: Founded in 1965, UCI is the youngest member of the prestigious Association of American Universities. The campus has produced three Nobel laureates and is known for its academic achievement, premier research, innovation and anteater mascot. Led by Chancellor Howard Gillman, UCI has more than 36,000 students and offers 222 degree programs. It’s located in one of the world’s safest and most economically vibrant communities and is Orange County’s second-largest employer, contributing $5 billion annually to the local economy. For more on UCI, visit www.uci.edu.
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