There’s a simple reason why donors give lots of money to Children’s Hospital of Orange County: they care about kids.
CHOC—as it’s generally referred to—received $32 million in donations of $1 million or more each last year, according to this week’s Business Journal listing of Largest Charitable Gifts of 2022. It was the fifth-largest local recipient of donations $1 million or more last year, the list indicates (see list, page 20).
There were also millions more in smaller donations directed to OC’s main children’s hospital by revenue beyond that amount, officials note.
The money will be used for patient- and family-centered care, medical research, equipment and related purposes.
“CHOC is a safety net hospital and approximately 60% of our patients are covered by Medi-Cal,” said Kara Kipp, associate chief development officer of the CHOC Foundation in Orange.
She estimated that total “uncompensated care” was almost $143 million for the 12 months ended last June 30.
“CHOC cares for all those families regardless of their ability to pay,” Kipp says.
The majority of the big-ticket gifts came from individuals or family foundations, Kipp said.
The largest gift was the $10 million in May from the Argyros Foundation, backed by local multibillionaires and philanthropists George and Julia Argyros and their family.
“We have had a really longstanding relationship with their family,” Kipp said.
“I’ve known them for decades and work really closely with them.”
The Argyros’ $10 million donation supports the Fetal Care Center of Southern California on CHOC’s Orange campus. The center is a partnership with UCI Health.
“The Argyros’ transformational gift will enable CHOC to grow its fetal care program, including adding staff and becoming a hub for groundbreaking research on fetal disorders,” according to the CHOC Foundation.
The 2,200-square-foot Fetal Care Center features a spacious lobby, two echocardiogram rooms, one ultrasound room, two patient consultation rooms and a physician reading room.
“They were really inspired by some of the work we are doing and excited about our maternal fetal program that we’re developing,” Kipp said of the Argyros family donation.
CHOC is one of Orange County’s largest hospitals with $919.1 million in patient revenue in 2022. The organization has 334 licensed beds in Orange County, and 188,695 annual outpatient visits. It’s in the midst of a $500 million capital campaign.
The CHOC Foundation’s chairperson is local philanthropist Monica Furman.
CHOC recently kicked off construction on a 330,000-square-foot tower at its Orange campus.
The nine-story building near the intersection of Main Street and CHOC Court will hold pediatric outpatient services. Dubbed the Southwest Tower, the project will open in phases starting in 2025.
Its cost is estimated around $373 million.
When completed, the tower will include an outpatient imaging center, a dedicated Research Institute floor, oncology infusion services, multiple specialty clinics, and various patient and family amenities.
The new tower will be a “game changer,” according to Kipp, and will be for ambulatory care.
The new building will allow more younger patients to receive infusions such as chemotherapy and other medications, as well as other procedures, without having to be admitted for an overnight hospital stay. The organization pointed to research indicating treating children on an outpatient basis can promote faster recovery times.
The top floor will be for medical research, according to the CHOC development official.
Kipp says mental health support is a “huge focus for CHOC moving forward concerning the current pandemic in terms of mental health for adolescents and young adults.” Kipp adds that of the 14 top gifts it received last year, seven of them were “focused on mental health support.”
CHOC has a multidisciplinary team of specialists for children and teens that includes psychiatrists, psychologists, nurses and social workers for mental health issues.
The hospital specializes in providing a full continuum of pediatric mental healthcare, including inpatient, intensive outpatient and outpatient program services.
“The majority of the donors we work with just give to the organization because they care about kids and can’t imagine what some of the families that we are seeing are going through,” according to Kipp.
She points out the difference between donating to a local hospital and a specialized children’s facility.
“Many adults assume they will benefit from that hospital at one point or another and so do invest in their local hospital. With pediatrics it’s different because we end up seeing such a smaller percentage of the population.”