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City of Hope Opens Cancer Center in Irvine

'Super Specialty' Medical Care in Orange County

City of Hope Orange County last week took the wraps off its state-of-the-art outpatient center for cancer research in Irvine.

The 190,000-square-foot Lennar Foundation Cancer Center is the first component to deliver within the company’s $1 billion campus at the Great Park Neighborhoods.

“It’s a great story for Orange County,” Annette Walker, president of City of Hope Orange County, told the Business Journal during a tour of the facility.

“Every piece of equipment is the most advanced available for purchase on the market today. Then you add that to the physicians we have who are super specialists, you’ve got a very advanced center here,” she added.

The cancer center held its inauguration on July 27. That same day, City of Hope also held a groundbreaking for a 170,000-square-foot cancer hospital next door, which is scheduled to open in 2025.

“We are 100% on schedule,” Walker said. “It’s pretty amazing that through COVID, we’re still on schedule.”

 

100% Cancer Focused

The center, which last year received a $50 million donation from real estate developer Lennar Corp., has national experts in the most common cancers of breast, colon, lung and melanoma, and has recruited at least 25 national experts in areas from radiology to pathology to anesthesiology.

“Everyone in this building is working on cancer,” said Dr. Edward Kim, physician-in-chief at City of Hope Orange County. “It’s the only place in the western United States that’s completely, 100% dedicated to cancer.”

Founded in 1913, City of Hope’s headquarters in Duarte, Los Angeles has grown into one of the largest cancer research and treatment organizations in the U.S. The company’s OC cancer care network includes four regional clinics—two in Newport Beach, one in Huntington Beach and one in Irvine.

It chose Orange County for the new cancer center because about 20% of the 3.2 million residents may need advanced cancer care. Previously, patients would have to drive hours or even out of state to get the newest treatment available.

“People in Orange County were leaving because they couldn’t get super specialty medical care,” Walker said. “It’s really special for us to fill such a gap in the community.”

Kim added, “What we’ll be able to bring here is the first-in-human trials, the first in the world, the latest cutting edge.”

The following is a floor-by-floor description of the 190,000-square-foot center.

 

1st Floor

The furniture, which was chosen by patients, looks like it could belong in a residential space rather than a medical office. This floor includes an education classroom for the community and the Sheri & Les Biller Patient and Family Resource Center that provides information on survivorship programs, spiritual counseling, pain management and more.

The floor also has quiet work areas.

“Everything you see is more in line with hospitality than hospital,” Walker said. “The ground floor did a really good job of expressing what we’re trying to achieve.”

On the wall are paintings from around Orange County, while art in the lobby keeps feng shui in mind, Walker said.

“We want to be sensitive to all the different cultures,” Kim said. “We expect international visitors from all directions.”

The newest radiation machines are on this floor, located in rooms surrounded by solid concrete. The machines are so accurate that there is no need for the “tattoos” associated with prior tests, Kim said.

During radiation, patients can look at artwork of butterflies on the ceiling “to feel more at peace,” Kim said.

Walker said the outside grounds are unusual for a hospital because there are gardens where patients themselves can plant flowers and such.

 

2nd Floor

Pre-operation and recovery rooms are located on a side of the building facing the Saddleback mountains. When the shades are closed, a picture of the nearby mountains appear on the windows.

Plants and flowers are not allowed in the center for infection control purposes.

“That’s why we went to such great lengths with the flooring, the stone, everything to make it feel more natural,” Walker said. “We wanted to bring the outside in as much as possible.”

On the other side of the floor are three large operating rooms, complete with cat scanners, ultrasounds and large screen monitors.

“It’s all the latest technology,” Kim said. “The surgeons say it’s the roomiest operating room they’ve been in.”

 

3rd Floor

This floor contains doctor offices in what Walker described as a new “care team model.”
Instead of patients needing to visit different buildings on different days for appointments, the third floor contains a suite of offices where all the doctors are in one area.

The floor also has Hope Boutique, a full-service salon and specialty shopping experience with oncology-trained cosmetologists who help patients with customized cosmetology services, breast prostheses and more.

“The experience of losing hair or the need for prosthetics for breast replacement is very traumatic for women,” Walker said. “We wanted to create a place that is more beautiful than typical. We wanted all these rooms to be higher end to try to make the experience a little bit better.”

 

5th Floor

The building doesn’t have a fourth floor because feng shui considers the number four bad luck, like Western culture’s dislike of the number 13, Walker said.

The fifth floor is dedicated to patients in trials, for which the City of Hope conducts about 1,000 annually.

Patient rooms have big windows with views of the Saddleback mountains.

“We saved this for these patients,” Walker said. “They deserve to have the best views. They sit here for 8 to 10 hours at a time.”

The center’s first patient is expected by the end of August.

 

Features of the New
Cancer Center

 

The City of Hope Orange County Lennar Foundation Cancer Center says it will include:

• Access to City of Hope’s 575 physicians and more than 1,000 researchers and scientists who only focus on cancer.

• Targeted immunotherapies, including CAR T-cell therapy, as well as bone marrow transplants, robotic minimally invasive surgeries and MRI-guided radiation oncology.

• Integrative medicine that combines the best of Western medicine and evidence-based complementary therapies, such as acupuncture, massage and meditation

• Programs that identify people and families with elevated cancer risk utilizing genetic risk assessments, biomarker panels and environmental surveys to help manage that risk.

• Novel blood testing and imaging techniques that find cancer early, when it is still easily curable.

• Best-in-class genomic testing to profile a patient’s tumor

• An outpatient surgery department that offers advanced perioperative care, an endoscopy suite and operating rooms with robotic-assisted surgical capabilities.

• Sixty-seven spacious exam and treatment rooms.

• Fifteen consultation rooms that allow patients and family members to meet comfortably with their care team.

• An infusion center designed around patient preferences with 43 infusion bays and 10 private infusion treatment rooms.

—Peter J. Brennan

Peter J. Brennan
Peter J. Brennan
Peter J. Brennan has been a journalist for 40 years. He spent a decade in Latin America covering wars, narcotic traffickers, earthquakes, and business. His resume includes 15 years at Bloomberg News where his headlines and articles sometimes moved the market caps of companies he covered by hundreds of millions of dollars. His articles have been published worldwide, including the New York Times and the Washington Post; he's appeared on CNN, CBC, BBC, and Bloomberg TV. He was awarded a Kiplinger Fellowship at The Ohio State University.
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