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UC Irvine set to start construction on $185-million health sciences complex

UCI health sciences complex
UC Irvine’s planned 9-acre health sciences complex at the corner of Bison and California avenues will feature new homes for the Susan and Henry Samueli College of Health Sciences and the Sue and Bill Gross School of Nursing.
(Courtesy of UCI)

UC Irvine will begin construction this month on a state-of-the-art 9-acre health sciences complex for integrative patient care, training and research, the university said Monday.

The initial work will be site preparation, with groundbreaking expected later this year, probably in the fall, according to university spokesman Tom Vasich.

The site — on the corner of Bison and California avenues adjacent to the UCI Research Park — will include a five-level, 108,200-square-foot building for the Susan and Henry Samueli College of Health Sciences and an adjoining four-level, 71,500-square-foot building for the Sue and Bill Gross School of Nursing. The health sciences building will house the Susan Samueli Integrative Health Institute.

The $185-million project also includes a 150-seat auditorium, a central courtyard connecting with the Gavin Herbert Eye Institute, areas for activities such as yoga and tai chi, a Zen garden, a 600-foot-long “wellness walk” leading to the School of Medicine’s Biomedical Research Center, and a spot for a proposed School of Pharmacy & Pharmaceutical Sciences building.

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“UCI is creating a national model for integrative health teaching, research and delivery,” university Chancellor Howard Gillman said in a statement. “These two new buildings, part of our expanded health sciences campus, will ensure that our dedicated researchers and clinicians set a standard that, over time, other medical centers in the U.S. can follow.”

The Susan and Henry Samueli College of Health Sciences consists of the School of Medicine, the Sue and Bill Gross School of Nursing, the Susan Samueli Integrative Health Institute, the proposed School of Pharmacy & Pharmaceutical Sciences (currently the Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences) and the proposed School of Population Health (currently the Program in Public Health).

Students, faculty and program staff across the United States have scrambled to find study alternatives at the last minute amid the coronavirus outbreak.

“Integrative” health and medicine is defined as whole-person care that considers the factors that influence health, wellness and disease, including mind, body and spirit.

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Integrative health has been interpreted by many medical professionals as a way to introduce unproven “alternative medicines.”

UCI, however, says it is “informed by scientific evidence and makes use of all appropriate preventatives, therapeutic and lifestyle approaches.”

“Optimal health and healing come from taking an integrative approach to healthcare that is patient-centered, science-based, transdisciplinary and team-delivered,” Dr. Steve Goldstein, UCI vice chancellor for health affairs, said in a statement. “Moving from the status quo to improved care for our population requires an expanded focus to promote health and well-being and more effectively deliver healthcare using all evidence-based approaches across the lifespan. This health sciences complex will be at the epicenter of the transformation of the current healthcare system, as well as a site for research and the training of the next generation of healthcare professionals.”

The design of the health sciences and nursing complex will feature strategically placed classrooms, collaboration areas, team rooms and break areas to draw different researchers, faculty members, clinicians and administrators toward the center.

In the nursing school, a lounge easily accessible from the teaching labs will open to an outdoor space where students can collaborate, the university said. There also will be indoor and outdoor study areas.

In 2016, the William and Sue Gross Family Foundation committed $40 million to UCI to establish a nursing school and help construct a new building for it.

The following year, the Samuelis donated $200 million to build the college of health sciences.

The nursing school currently is at Berk Hall in the campus’ School of Medicine complex. The Integrative Health Institute currently operates on Bristol Street in Costa Mesa.

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Updates:
9:40 AM, Feb. 18, 2020: This article was originally published at 11:09 a.m. Feb. 17 and has been updated with new information.

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