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UC Board of Regents approves $1-billion, 144-bed medical center at UC Irvine

A rendering of the planned hospital complex approved by the UC Board of Regents.
A rendering of the planned hospital complex approved by the UC Board of Regents on Wednesday. From left, the ambulatory care center, the in-patient hospital and a parking structure.
(Courtesy of UCI)

The UC Board of Regents on Thursday approved plans for a new medical care center at UC Irvine, paving the way for the construction of what will be a 144-bed acute care facility, ambulatory care center and cancer center at its completion. It is expected to cost $1 billion.

The facility, which will be on the northern edge of the university’s campus, joins the UCI Health Center for Advanced Care to create what university officials are calling the UCI Medical Center Irvine-Newport. The center will interface with the UC Irvine primary care network throughout Orange County, which includes its newest clinic in Newport Beach that opened in August.

Services will complement the university’s medical center in Orange.

The new medical center will be home to the Center for Children’s Health and provide wellness programs, urgent and emergency care, specialty disciplines, research and clinical trials and surgical and acute care. Officials said it will focus on key clinical programs such as oncology, neurology, neurosurgery, orthopedics and digestive health and have a 24-hour emergency department.

As part of its virtual exhibit “From I-Ching to Manga: UCI’s East Asian Collection Celebrating 30 Years,” the university library is offering online events throughout 2021 open to students and the community.

“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,” Chancellor Howard Gillman said in a statement.

“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,” Gillman said.

The hospital and the UCI Health Center for Advanced Care will be the centerpiece for the proposed UCI Presidential Gateway, which officials said is a 202-acre collection of healing gardens, naturescapes and a research preserve within the San Joaquin Marsh Reserve.

The name honors the site where President Lyndon Johnson arrived by helicopter for the university’s dedication ceremony in 1964.

UC Irvine spokesman Tom Vasich said in an email that the next steps of the project are to complete design and documentation in advance.

“Construction is in sight, beginning with mobilization and construction staging in February,” Vasich said. “We still need to go through the permitting process with Office of Statewide Health Planning and Development for portions of the project, a process which has already begun.”

The first patients of the UCI Health Center for Advanced Care are expected in 2022. The ambulatory care center will open in 2023 and the in-patient facility will open in 2025, with projects pending regulatory and legal approvals. A parking structure will also be built.

Altogether, it spans nearly 800,000 gross square feet, but officials said that they plan to establish a 150-foot biological buffer between the project site and the San Joaquin Marsh Reserve in consultation with biologists. No physical structures will be built within that buffer.

“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,” Gillman said.

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