The UCI Medical Center, long hailed for its quality in facilities and patient care, is making room for some changes. The medical center will be building a new hospital to replace the center’s current acute care hospital.
The current acute care hospital is 40 years old and houses the medical center’s most seriously ill patients.
According to Kim Pine, communications manager and spokeswoman for the UCI Medical Center, the process of updating the facilities won’t diminish the quality of medical care.
‘The current acute care hospital will be demolished once the new hospital is built. We are fortunate that we can build the new hospital while continuing to operate the existing one,’ Pine said.
The goal for the new hospital is to improve the conditions for seriously ill patients staying at the medical center.
Tom Mitchell, vice chancellor for university advancement, strongly believes that the center will be a positive environment for the terminally ill.
‘The new hospital will be a landmark center for healing,’ Mitchell said.
The center is currently home to the only level-one trauma center in Orange County, boasting a multi-organ transplantation program that offers extensive surgical procedures as well as providing the largest share of medical care to Orange County’s uninsured patients. The center is the only university hospital in Orange County and employs physicians who practice in nearly every aspect of medicine.
One of the driving reasons for building a new hospital is to meet new state seismic requirements. A state bond issue was passed to provide funding for hospitals that are not earthquake-safe. According to Mitchell, this project is actually economical.
‘It is much more cost-effective for us to build a new hospital than try to retrofit the existing, 40-year-old building,’ Mitchell said.
In order to make room for the new hospital building, a parking structure and administrative building at the medical center in Orange will be torn down.
Despite the enormous amount of planning that has evidently gone into this project to date, however, there is still so much to be done.
‘It is quite amazing how many years we’ve been working on this project, and we haven’t even broken ground yet,’ Pine said.
Pine stressed the high quality that will go into every aspect of this project’s development.
‘There is an enormous amount of planning that goes into building an entirely new hospital,’ Pine said. ‘We have included many staff members in the planning process, including doctors, nurses, technicians and mid and top-level managers. People from every area of the hospital have had input toward functionality, design of patient rooms and work areas, technology and comfort of patients and families.’
The initial funding for the project came in November 2000 with a $235 million hospital bond approved by UC Regents. In early 2001, the final bond was approved by the State Department of Finance.
Recently, The Irvine Health Foundation has pledged $1 million in support of the new hospital. The Irvine Health Foundation’s donation is the largest private single donation toward the new hospital project.
According to Mitchell, at this point the hospital has raised $15 million in private donations. The goal for the hospital is to raise a total of $50 million through private donations.
The total amount projected for the completion of the facility is $365 million. Any remaining money needed after fundraising will be taken from the UCI Medical Center reserves.
Construction is set to begin in 2005. The hospital is scheduled to open in 2008, and is expected to have 221 beds, bringing the total bed count to 407.
According to Pine, a competitive process is currently taking place in the architectural aspects of this project.
‘We are in the bidding phase right now and expect to award the designing and building contracts in April,’ Pine said.
Pine stated that the new center will have innovations that haven’t been seen in comparable facilities.
‘In the new hospital, every patient will have a private room with an area for family members to stay overnight,’ Pine said. ‘Now, many patients share rooms with one or more patients and family members cannot stay overnight. The new hospital will also be wired for the newest technology. We are hoping to build an architectural landmark for medicine that is comfortable and aesthetically pleasing to everyone who stays at our hospital. Everything about the new building is different from the current one, except for our name