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Wednesday, Feb 21, 2024

$1.3B UCI Health Project Expected to Create 2,500 Jobs; All-Electric Hospital in Irvine

A $1.3 billion medical complex at the edge of University of California, Irvine’s main campus is starting to take shape with its total completion expected within 32 months.

“In spite of the rain, it’s moving along nicely,” UCI Health Chief Executive Chad Lefteris told the Business Journal late last month.

“We’re managing it wonderfully. It’s right on schedule and on budget.”

The 13.5-acre UCI Health-Irvine complex along Jamboree Road, which is adding about 2,500 healthcare and construction jobs to the local economy, is part of a building boom among Orange County medical systems.

The City of Hope is constructing a $1.5 billion hospital and clinic across Irvine at the Great Park Neighborhoods. Hoag Memorial Hospital Presbyterian is planning to spend $1 billion to expand its facilities in Irvine.

Providence Mission is planning on spending $712 million for a new hospital in Mission Viejo and clinics in Rancho Santa Margarita and San Clemente.

On the Business Journal’s most recent list of hospitals, UCI Health ranked as the largest in Orange County, generating $1.6 billion for the year ended Sept. 30.

UCI Health will keep its main campus in Orange, where it operates in 1.2 million gross square feet of building floor area on 31 acres.

“The Orange campus will always be our hub,” Lefteris said. “We’re trying not to duplicate” the Orange campus.

Expanding Campus

UCI’s campus in Irvine already has the Gavin Herbert Eye Institute and the Susan Samueli Integrative Health Institute in addition to the School of Medicine.

The new hospital complex, near the Irvine and Newport Beach city line, has about 800,000 square feet of space planned in total. It is geared toward patients living in South Orange County, so they don’t have to battle traffic.

“The biggest thing is it allows us to take our world-class experts and bring them closer to where people live,” Lefteris said. “So many patients must travel to fight traffic. You got enough to worry about. It’s about bringing our experts to you. When you live in South County, you won’t have to drive 45 minutes to an hour to get up to Orange.”

All-Electric Hospital

Campus officials are touting the facility as “the first all-electric hospital in the nation.”
Its 45,000-square-foot Central Utility Plant is designed to work on carbon neutral electricity supplied by solar panels and Southern California Edison.

In case of emergencies, the complex will have backup generators that use diesel.

“It’s a major investment to do this,” Lefteris said. “There’s a long history in UCI as it relates to sustainability efforts. This is about healthier buildings and being a more sustainable partner.

“I hope we’ll inspire others to do it as well.”

A typical hospital has a centralized system to distribute steam to its facilities.

“In our case, we said we’re not going to centralize steam because it’s a big user of fossil fuels,” said Paul Daveiga, director of planning, design and construction for UCI Health.

“We are doing a decentralized approach where we have our steam and humidification in each of the ORs and other areas that require steam for sterilization.”

UCI says about 50% of a typical hospital’s daily emissions originate in its operating rooms.

“We’re recapturing some of that heat before it gets released,” Daveiga said. “We’ll use it to heat interior space and hot water. All that isn’t being lost. It’s being recaptured here through the magic of this equipment and piped back into the medical center.”

Openings on Tap

The Business Journal recently toured the new UCI Health-Irvine medical campus on the corner of Jamboree Road and Campus Drive in Irvine.

It has plenty of subtle touches, such as waiting rooms outside on terraces in case patients and their families or friends want to enjoy Southern California’s weather.

A café will overlook the nearby San Joaquin Marsh and Wildlife Sanctuary.

A 1-mile walking trail through the marsh will be built to connect the complex to the main UCI campus.

It has two parking structures capable of holding 2,200 vehicles.

Its three major medical buildings are:

• The Chao Family Comprehensive Cancer Center and Ambulatory Care building will be in a five-story tower with 225,000 square feet. It will have complete outpatient services with 36 private exam rooms and numerous infusion bays. It will triple the available space for UCI Health cancer care and integrate research, prevention and the most advanced diagnostics, treatments and rehabilitation programs.

It will also house Orange County’s only adult hematopoietic stem cell/bone marrow transplant program, which is currently located at UCI Medical Center in Orange. Scheduled for completion in 2024, its key clinical programs will include oncology, neurology, neurosurgery, orthopedics/spine surgery and digestive health.

• The Joe C. Wen & Family UCI Health Center for Advanced Care will feature 168,000 square feet in a five-story medical facility. It will offer adult and pediatric specialty care, with a Center for Children’s Health, including Center for Autism & Neurodevelopmental Disorders. It’s scheduled for completion in spring of 2024.

• The 350,000-square-foot seven-story hospital is slated to open in late 2025 with 144 inpatient beds and a 24-hour emergency department with 20 treatment rooms. It will have 10 outpatient operating suites.

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