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Wednesday, Feb 21, 2024

Big Center on Campus

The University of California-Irvine plans to build a $221 million, five-story outpatient pavilion on the north side of its Irvine campus, its latest effort at expanding access to advanced healthcare for Orange County’s nearly 3.3 million residents.

The 168,000-square-foot center on land the school owns at the corner of Jamboree Road and Birch Street—near the Irvine and Newport Beach city lines—will offer services in child health, adult specialty care, urgent care and other services once it opens in 2022, officials said late last week.

The UCI Health Center for Advanced Care “will expand healthcare access, education and research in the community, the region and the nation,” said Chancellor Howard Gillman.

“More patients than ever will have a chance to benefit from the premium services that only an academic health system dedicated to discovery, teaching and healing can offer,” Gillman said.

The facility “will provide exceptional treatments, integrative therapies and clinical trials for the entire family, bringing comprehensive, cutting-edge, whole person care close to home,” added Steve Goldstein, vice chancellor for health affairs at the school. Connecting educational discoveries made at UCI with treatments at the new center will be a focus, he said.

Hospital Next?

News of the project comes as UCI accelerates its health programs in education and business.

The university broke ground on the Susan and Henry Samueli College of Health Sciences in February and continues to expand its community health services with new clinics and outpatient centers.

A new hospital and surgery center in Irvine—a mission the university set out to achieve in the 1970s—could be next, officials say. Additional space UCI owns on the south side of Jamboree Road is being eyed for that project.

“We’ve been trying to have an on-campus presence in healthcare since the 1970s,” Goldstein said.

“It’s In the DNA of the university, and now we’re in a position to actualize on that aspiration to serve the community.”

Plans in Motion

The Center for Advanced Care is expected to begin construction in 2021.

The medical center will generate an additional 200 to 300 jobs for providers, nurses, pharmacists and health-affiliated workers, officials said, noting the new center supports a duplication of services for a growing need in the community.

“With this new venue, we expect to attract top medical talent and create new opportunities for healthcare providers and other UCI faculty to collaborate on high-impact research and discoveries in order to improve and expand access to healthcare for people in Orange County and beyond,” Gillman said.

UCI Health won’t have to look far for some new recruits and recent graduates; construction is well underway at the corner of Bison and California avenues—a few miles from the Advanced Care project site—where the school’s college of health sciences is being built.

That $185 million project includes one building that will house the school of medicine and programs in pharmacy and public health.

It will connect to an adjoining building dedicated to the Sue and Bill Gross School of Nursing.

The 9-acre complex will include the Susan Samueli Integrative Health Institute and the newly announced School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences—the first school of pharmacy in OC in nearly two decades.

Future Vision

UCI Medical Center has long called Orange its home. It counts a 417-bed acute care hospital there and has its primary clinical teaching location for the school’s College of Health Sciences in the city.

The latest efforts are part of the university making good on its promise to bring more healthcare services to its campus in Irvine and the surrounding area.

The university announced on Aug. 9 a new health clinic at Newport Center, which models its approach to integrative health services with both specialty care in cardiology, gastroenterology, dermatology and pain management, as well as therapies including acupuncture, massage, naturopathic medicine, mindfulness and yoga.

Though now just in the planning stage, UCI could eventually bring a new hospital and surgery center to its north Irvine campus in the future.

Goldstein said expansion plans for health services are on an “upward trajectory” and the university is exploring “building a larger presence on its north site.” UCI counts nearly 25 acres of largely undeveloped and underutilized land along Jamboree Road.

Ultimately, Goldstein said, executives at the university have long considered how to expand its health services in Irvine and is now executing on those plans.

“I give credit to Chancellor Gillman,” Goldstein said. “He’s had a vision for the future of UCI Health and its connectivity to Orange County for some time and this is the manifestation of his vision.”

Busy City

UCI’s latest plans add to a busy slate of healthcare-related developments across Irvine.

Several billion dollars’ worth of large-scale medical projects are in various forms of the planning stage in the city, including hospitals, specialty care services, and research and development facilities.

That includes plans by Hoag Memorial Hospital Presbyterian, which is exploring an expansion to its Irvine campus, and City of Hope, which has a $1 billion campus in the works at the city’s Great Park Neighborhoods.

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