Already known as a hub for medical technology and research firms, Irvine is also increasingly becoming a center for direct patient care, with a proposed expansion of Hoag Hospital Irvine as the latest example of the trend.

Hoag in Irvine is moving forward with plans that would expand its Sand Canyon Avenue facilities to more than double the number of patient beds and add nine buildings, reorganizing the hospital into specialized institutes of care. While the hospital is already allowed some expansion under city rules, updates and additions to older plans will go before the city’s Planning Commission later this month.

“Since opening Hoag Hospital Irvine 10 years ago, Hoag has elevated care in service of the community. We have steadily expanded the facilities, scope of services, programs and professionals dedicated to the community’s health care,” hospital COO Marcy Brown said in an emailed statement.

“We look forward to continuing to provide the best comprehensive care in the region and further our relationship with Irvine.”

In 2019, City of Hope announced it would build a $1 billion cancer treatment and research campus next to the Orange County Great Park, and earlier this year UC Irvine began work on a $185 million health sciences complex that will house programs in nursing, pharmacy and public health.

A report to Irvine’s Planning Commission describes Hoag’s proposal to increase capacity from 166 to 391 beds and expand to more than 1 million square feet, adding an intensive care unit, pharmacy, four critical care buildings, including a women’s hospital and a digestive health hospital, auditorium and conference center. Larger patient rooms would be a feature.

Hoag Hospital Irvine looking east from the corner of Alton Parkway and San Canyon Avenue in Irvine, CA, on Friday, November 6, 2020. Hoag is planning an expansion that would more than double the number of beds (166 to 391) and add nine buildings, including an auditorium/conference center, cafe and other amenities. (Photo by Jeff Gritchen, Orange County Register/SCNG)

The nine buildings – between two and four stories – are planned over two phases, taking up much of the surface parking lots, which would be replaced with two parking structures.

If approved, the proposal anticipates completion by 2025.

“It really is a feather in our cap for them to have chosen Irvine and for them to suggest that they want to expand here,” Irvine Mayor Christina Shea said, adding that she sees the proliferation of health care and medical businesses as a testament to Irvine’s reputation as a safe and well-run city.

It may also be at least partly due to aggressive marketing efforts by the Greater Irvine Chamber of Commerce, which over the past three years has made multiple trips to the United Kingdom – specifically London and Cambridge – to woo medical device and technology companies that are interested in building a U.S. presence.

Chamber CEO Bryan Starr said the campaign has brought about a dozen U.K. companies to the city, and even more that already operate on the East Coast have expressed interest in expanding in Irvine.

“We’re the medical device capital of the country here in Orange County, and a lot of that is based in Irvine,” Starr said. “I think a lot of it has to do with proximity. We are in the center of Southern California, if you include San Diego in that. It’s a safe environment where people want to live.”

The chamber uses UC Irvine, Hoag and the coming City of Hope campus as selling points to attract more medical-related businesses, Starr said, but it also benefits residents to be near top-level health care.

And besides that, “it’s important to Irvine because those are high-paying jobs that are expanding,” he said. “It’s investment in the community, a lot of these companies will really integrate into the community, so that’s good for nonprofits, that’s good for schools.”

Reporter Erika I. Ritchie contributed to this report.


By Richard Moran

Richard Moran loves to write about sports with the Golden State Online. Before that, he worked as a senior writer at ESPN. Richard grew up in San Diego and graduated from the University of San Diego in 2004, after which he worked as an editor for five years.

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