A new health facility that emphasizes “whole person care” including yoga, acupuncture and nutritional cooking classes, and backed by some of the more prominent names in Orange County’s business community, opened Oct. 11 at the University of California, Irvine.
The Susan Samueli Integrative Health Institute is the 21,432 square-foot flagship clinic within the new Susan & Henry Samueli College of Health Sciences’ 110,000-square-foot complex, located on the corner of California Avenue and Michael Drake Drive in Irvine.
The facility is a result of the Samueli family’s 2017 pledge of $200 million to support a first-of-its-kind college of health sciences at UCI focused on interdisciplinary, integrative health.
Henry Samueli co-founded and is chairman of Broadcom Inc. (Nasdaq: AVGO), a chipmaker with a $185 billion market cap as of last week.
“This new building, on the Irvine campus, is truly extraordinary—it is the crown jewel of a growing network of community locations available throughout Orange County,” said Chad Lefteris, chief executive of UCI Health, the clinical enterprise of UCI and the primary teaching hospital for the UCI School of Medicine. UCI Health says it serves nearly 4 million people in the region.
The new health institute includes 42 rooms for examinations, treatments and consultations; a lab; an infusion suite; a pharmacy; the Mussallem Nutritional Education Center; an intensive cardiac rehabilitation space; and the Palmer Family Research and Conference Room.
The education center is a result of a gift from Linda and Mike Mussallem; the latter is CEO of Irvine’s Edwards Lifesciences Corp. (NYSE: EW), OC’s most valuable public company.
Linda Mussallem is an integrative health advocate and has served on the health institute’s advisory board.
The Palmer Family research room was donated by Sally and Greg Palmer, founder and director of the G. Palmer & Associates consulting business.
Integrated health involves the study of complementary and alternative healing practices in the context of rigorous science; work on a national level has been spearheaded by the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health, 1 of the 27 centers that make up the National Institutes of Health.
“We think this is the future of healthcare,” Dr. Shaista Malik, the UCI institute’s executive director, told the Business Journal.
“We prevent disease before it manifests by helping people learn the lifestyle that can lead to prevent disease.”
When a patient enters the facility, a team will “triage” what that person needs to get better. That help may include group classes in areas such as tai chi, cooking and yoga as well as educational lectures and events. Such group classes often encourage patients to change their behaviors to healthier practices, she said.
“We’re capitalizing on the power of social connections that make these behaviors easier to do,” Malik said. “It’s very rare for a clinical space to have educational space for community as well as one-on-one care.”
The institute has moved from a prior facility in Costa Mesa, where about 41 providers annually saw about 20,000 patients. The new facility will expand to more than 100 providers seeing 60,000 patients annually, Malik said.
Officials said the institute’s new facility promotes wellness by incorporating natural elements that recognize the instinctive human connection to nature, from its exterior landscaping and interior design to its soothing color schemes, tones and textures. It features two living-plant walls that produce oxygen and are sustained by built-in self-irrigation systems.
“The new center is the brick-and-mortar realization of our vision to make integrative care the national standard of care for all people,” said Susan Samueli, co-chair of the Samueli Foundation’s board of directors.
“Seeing the new clinic open is truly a dream come true, knowing how many people in Orange County will benefit from this world-class care in a world-class facility.”
Susan and Henry Samueli in 2000 first donated $5.7 million to establish UCI’s Susan Samueli Center for Integrative Medicine.
Other parts of the college include the School of Medicine, the Sue & Bill Gross School of Nursing, the planned School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences, and the planned School of Population and Public Health Students will be able to participate in multidisciplinary clinical rotations with colleagues from medicine, nursing, pharmacy and public health.
The institute will also have researchers from different schools designing therapies to test on patients to better understand whole-person health.
For example, some researchers are studying how plant products can help alleviate the need for products like opioids.
Malik herself is studying why acupuncture has been shown to lower blood pressure. She sees a potential for such research to be turned into a medical device that doesn’t require needles to help alleviate pain.
“There are interesting possibility in translating this research into industry,” she said.
The clinic began welcoming patients on Oct. 17, and the core research space is scheduled to open later this year. Community activities will be available throughout 2023.