Hoag Opens a Comprehensive Health Center in Irvine

Times Staff Writer

Twenty-four new doctors, a women's health center and a walk-in clinic came to Irvine Tuesday.

The occasion was the opening of Hoag Memorial Hospital Presbyterian's Hoag Health Center-Irvine, a $2.7-million, 33,000-square-foot, wood and glass building at 4870 Barranca Parkway that is meant to make health care more accessible to Irvine residents.

The project will bring the Newport Beach hospital's diagnostic and community education services closer to home, said Kathleen Dooley, Hoag's director of outreach development.

Several years ago, Hoag considered building a hospital in Irvine in partnership with Memorial Health Services of Long Beach but pulled out of that project in April, 1985. Studies by Hoag indicated that a large hospital in Irvine would be expensive to operate and would duplicate services of the Newport Beach hospital, Dooley said.

Instead, Hoag decided that Irvine's 95,000 residents would be best served by a large outpatient facility, Dooley said.

Women in test marketing groups were asked what medical services they wanted, Dooley said. "They said they would like to have one center--full service--to care for the entire family." The 24 doctors at Hoag's new center will represent 12 specialties of medicine, including allergy, endocrinology, sports medicine and orthopedics, urology, oncology, pediatrics and obstetrics and gynecology.

The center also houses a diagnostic center, a health library and the Woodbridge Walk-In Clinic, open for minor medical problems from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. every day, including weekends and holidays.

Before the center opened, there were about 70 doctors practicing in Irvine, Dooley said, but "it's such a rapidly expanding population. We found, especially in primary care, there was a need for more physicians."

A residents' group, People for an Irvine Community Hospital, once called Irvine the largest city in California without a hospital.

If Irvine has lacked medical care, that gap should be filled soon, not only by Hoag's new center but also by two other projects. The largest of these is a $93-million, 177-bed hospital being built on Alton Parkway and Sand Canyon Avenue. Its developer, American Medical International of Beverly Hills, expects the hospital to open in October, 1988.

In addition, the University of California Board of Regents is expected this week to approve $6.58 million to build a clinic adjacent to the UC Irvine College of Medicine on California Avenue.

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