UCI’s Forthcoming Medical Complex to Bring World-Class Health Facilities to O.C.

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UCI Chancellor Howard Gilman presided over the groundbreaking ceremony.
(Steve Zylius / UCI)

Late last year, the University of California, Irvine and UCI Health broke ground on the heavily-anticipated new medical complex on the north end of the Irvine campus. The $1.3 billion complex was approved by the UC Board of Regents last year and will include a 144-bed acute care hospital with an emergency room, an Outpatient Center for Advanced Care with primary and specialty health services, a Center for Children’s Health and the Chao Family Comprehensive Cancer Center and Ambulatory Care building.

“This is a milestone in the history of UCI, of the history of Irvine and of anywhere in our region where people need the world-class care that is provided only by an academic health center,” UCI Chancellor Howard Gillman said to the gathered crowd at last November’s groundbreaking ceremony. “Of all the things we do at UCI, all the myriad ways our community is served, none are more important than the activities of our academic health center. People come to us when they are at their most vulnerable; they turn to us to make their lives better; and the outcomes of our efforts have the greatest effect on those lives.”

The complex will connect with the UCI Health primary care network throughout Orange County, creating the region’s only health system that is supported by one of the nation’s premier academic research institutions.

“UCI Health is building the next chapter of healthcare in Orange County,” said UCI Health CEO Chad T. Lefteris. “The new UCI Medical Center Irvine will be a full-service academic medical complex bringing a broad range of the most advanced healthcare services to coastal and southern Orange County, including access to the hundreds of clinical trials underway at UCI Health.”

Key clinical programs available include oncology, neurology and neurosurgery, orthopedics, spinal surgery and advanced digestive health services. The medical center will also be a hub for Orange County’s largest clinical trial programs, including early phase trials in cancer, neurosciences, stem cell-derived treatments, internal medicine and more. In addition to the 350,000-square-foot acute care hospital, the new complex will feature:

• The 225,000-square-foot Chao Family Comprehensive Cancer Center and Ambulatory Care building, offering state-of the art cancer care rooted in the innovation and excellence of Orange County’s only National Cancer Institute-designated comprehensive cancer center. This will also be the future home of Orange County’s only adult hematopoietic stem cell/bone marrow transplant program, which was launched last year at the existing UCI Medical Center in the city of Orange.

• The 168,000-square-foot Joe C. Wen & Family Center for Advanced Care, which will include adult primary and specialty care services, comprehensive laboratory and radiology facilities, imaging services and urgent care. Children and adults will benefit from one-stop outpatient medical care because so many of their needs will be addressed in a single facility.

• The Center for Children’s Health, providing comprehensive pediatric outpatient services, including pediatric primary care, subspecialty clinics, rehabilitation and simulation services. In addition, the facility will advance UCI’s longstanding commitment to the region’s autism community when the Center for Autism & Neurodevelopmental Disorders relocates here.

The outpatient Joe C. Wen & Family Center for Advanced Care and Center for Children’s Health will see its first patients in early 2023 and the hospital and cancer center will open in 2025. “We are creating this new commitment to wellness and superb healthcare for all persons in our community, which will also improve how care is delivered far beyond our borders,” said Steve A.N. Goldstein, M.A., M.D., Ph.D., FAAP and UCI Vice Chancellor for Health Affairs.

“Soon we will open up this new medical complex in phases, and each step will be another sign of the longstanding UCI Health mission to improve the wellbeing of individuals and communities through this virtuous cycle - Discover, Teach, Heal - a process that promises continuous improvement in care and a healthier tomorrow for everyone.” The project will create thousands of construction jobs and is also expected to support thousands of new healthcare jobs.

“UCI Medical Center in Orange was established 45 years ago and breaking ground on the campus medical complex marks another milestone in fulfilling the promise the University of California made then to the people of Orange County, which has grown to become one of the country’s most populous and diverse regions,” said Lefteris. “The people of Orange County deserve access to world-class medicine, driven by clinical innovation and scientific discovery, and UCI Health is here to deliver it.”

The new medical complex will complement the university’s flagship UCI Medical Center, which will remain in Orange.

“Once this project is completed,” said Chancellor Gillman, “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 hospital and the UCI Health Center for Advanced Care - together spanning nearly 800,000 total square feet - will be the centerpiece of the redeveloped north campus, a 202-acre collection of healthful gardens, naturescapes and a research area within the San Joaquin Marsh Reserve.

“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,” added Dr. Goldstein.

“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.”

“No other health system in the county is powered by one of the world’s finest academic research institutions: the University of California,” Lefteris said, adding 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. “Our goal is to make this expertise easily available to everyone in Orange County.”

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 fresh water 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.