Feb 15 2023


“Making a Difference” is Orange County Business Council’s feature series that brings the face and voice of OCBC
members to life by sharing how they’re making a difference in their communities.

February 2023

Welcome to the February issue of OCBC’s “Making a Difference” series. This month’s column features two of Orange County’s leading organizations committed to investing in our county. From creating jobs to serving our diverse population, UCI Health and City of Hope are making contributions that position Orange County as an economic leader today and for a sustainable future. See how these organizations are making a difference.



City of Hope Orange County

Q: How does your group invest in Orange County, and why is it important?

A: City of Hope Orange County is changing the health care landscape by investing in a goal that every one of us wants to see achieved – preventing, treating and curing cancer. Our organization is investing $1 billion, fueled in part by philanthropic support, on this important mission. One in three Americans will be diagnosed with cancer in their lifetime and the cancer incidence rate in Orange County is projected to increase by 18 percent by 2030. We can’t think of a more important reason to invest in Orange County. We recently opened City of Hope Orange County Lennar Foundation Cancer Center, Orange County’s most advanced comprehensive cancer center; we offer advanced cancer care at our four regional clinics and have started construction on an inpatient cancer hospital. This is a comprehensive investment aimed at saving lives and ensuring a healthier future for Orange County’s 3.2 million residents.

Q: What drew your organization to invest in Orange County?

A: Our grateful patients inspired us to invest in the community. Before City of Hope came to Orange County, up to 20% of people receiving a cancer diagnosis left Orange County to receive advanced care and clinical trials, often traveling to our campus in Duarte. This meant an up to two-hour commute in Los Angeles traffic, adding significant stress and discomfort for both patients and families. We knew the situation had to change, not just for our current patients but for the growing Orange County population, who would also benefit from our lifesaving treatment and research for generations to come.

Q: What should organizations be doing to help make their county strong?

A: First, OC employers should tap into the outstanding local talent pool. City of Hope Orange County recruited more than 400+ health care professionals for our new cancer center. Most were from OC but several of our most specialized talent were recruited from across the country.  We are grateful that OC is such an attractive community to live in and raise families. Secondly, there is an abundance of like-minded and innovative organizations with which to partner, both in the private and public sectors, such as FivePoint and Masimo. We anticipate that OC will provide us with many other partnerships that will result in first of their kind innovations and discoveries.

Q: Who inspires you/your organization to do what you do?

A: All of us at City of Hope Orange County are inspired by our patients and their families who choose us for care and the many generous individuals and organizations that support our work. As a community, we are resilient and strong. Even cancer can’t break the Orange County spirit –in fact, it makes us fight harder together. On a personal note, as President of City of Hope Orange County, it is so fulfilling to serve the Orange County community because this is where my husband and I raised our family for more than four decades. It has been an honor to have the opportunity to create something that not only serves people today but will benefit generations of friends, neighbors, and family living in this region for years to come.

Q: How did your organization overcome obstacles to continue to invest in Orange County?

A: Construction began on our cancer center in September of 2020.  Building during the pandemic brought many workforce and supply chain challenges. Despite those obstacles, we opened on time and on budget. Everyone involved in the project — and I mean every worker, regulatory agency, or inspector — knew that delays meant delays for patients and people with cancer can’t afford to wait. We are so grateful that Orange County genuinely wanted to be part of our promise to deliver world-class cancer care to their families, friends, and neighbors.

Q: What is your organization planning to do in the future in its continuing mission to invest in the county?

A: We have started construction on what will be Orange County’s only hospital 100% focused on cancer.  It will be seamlessly connected to City of Hope Orange County Lennar Foundation Cancer Center on our Irvine campus. This important resource will open in 2025 and complete the continuum of care. Between now and then, we will expand the services and programs we offer. As we expand these services, we will continue to partner with others in the area to ensure greater access and continued innovation. We welcome traditional and non-traditional collaborations that will help achieve our goal of ending cancer in our lifetime.

Q: How is your organization making a difference in Orange County?

A: City of Hope is a National Cancer Institute-designated comprehensive cancer center; each year, our discoveries impact more than 100 million lives around the world. As an independent academic institution, we are focused on bringing tomorrow’s therapies to those who need them today. We have brought this expertise to Orange County and we are providing access to first-in-the region treatments that save lives. Our patients have access to 575 physicians and more than 1,000 researchers and scientists who only focus on cancer. In addition, nearly 1,000 clinical trials are conducted at City of Hope each year.

Q: What’s the best piece of leadership advice you or your organization have received?

A: Providing healthcare is an inspirational and honorable pursuit when done well.  More than a hundred years ago, Samuel H. Golter, one of City of Hope’s early leaders, coined the phrase, “There is no profit in curing the body if, in the process, we destroy the soul.” These wise words have helped shape our vision. We believe in a whole-person approach to medical care that commits to healing body, mind, and spirit. City of Hope may be new to Orange County, but we bring a legacy that has stood the test of time.

Q: What is your organization’s favorite part about living/working in Orange County?

A: Orange County’s people are truly the best part of living and working here. This big and diverse county is so full of innovative thinking, a shared commitment to solving challenges and optimism. People in this community really care and they are passionate about it. They also vibrantly exhibit an attribute we highly value — Hope! We would also be remiss not to share the words many of our out-of-state recruits say frequently – “Is it really this beautiful all year?” We so love to say, “Yes, it is!” On behalf of City of Hope, we want to say thank you. We are overwhelmed by the support and warm welcome.

Annette Walker is President of City of Hope Orange County.



UCI Health

Q: How does your group invest in Orange County and why is it important?

A: UCI Health is currently building a new, world-class medical center in Irvine at Jamboree Road and Birch Street. UCI Health – Irvine will be a full-service academic health complex that features a broad spectrum of the most advanced healthcare services to coastal and southern Orange County, including access to the hundreds of clinical trials underway at UCI Health. In addition to bringing exceptional academic medicine to South County, this medical center will connect with the UCI Health primary care network throughout Orange County, including its newest clinics in Newport Beach and Laguna Hills, creating the region’s only health system supported by one of the nation’s premier academic research institutions. The first building to open will be the Joe C. Wen & Family Center for Advanced Care in late 2023 followed by the Chao Family Comprehensive Cancer Center and Ambulatory Care in early 2024 and finally, our 144-bed hospital, which will open in late 2025.

Additionally, in order to ensure we are always able to meet the needs of our central and north county patients, UCI Health has embarked on a targeted master planning study to determine our inpatient needs at our flagship location in Orange. High level concepts have been developed and will be refined over the next year to develop a program for future expansion of that site. 

Q: What drew your organization to invest in Orange County?

A: The University of California, Irvine has been an integral part of Orange County for more than 50 years. UCI Health, the university’s medical enterprise, has a deeply rooted mission to serve patients across Orange County and beyond with world-class healthcare advanced by clinical innovation and scientific discovery.

Q: Who inspires you/your organization to do what you do?

A: Our patients.

Q: How has your organization overcome obstacles to continue to invest in Orange County?

A: Every day the doctors, nurses, therapists, technicians and other co-workers at UCI Health do amazing things. They are always trying to raise the bar and never give up. They keep trying, if something doesn’t work they will find another way. They stop at nothing to serve our patients. They don’t give up because they know that our patients depend on us. It’s this culture of dedication and perseverance that helps us overcome obstacles.

Q: What is your organization planning to do in the future in its continuing mission to invest in the county?

A: UCI and UCI Health have made a billion dollar commitment to build a new medical campus adjacent to the university’s campus in Irvine. The UCI Health – Irvine complex will include a 144-bed acute care hospital with an emergency room; the Center for Advanced Care, featuring outpatient primary and specialty services and the Center for Children’s Health; and the Chao Family Comprehensive Cancer and Ambulatory Care Center, which will triple the size of the only National Cancer Institute-designated comprehensive cancer center based in Orange County.

Q: How is your organization making a difference in Orange County?

A: UCI Health and its flagship medical center in Orange play a critical role in Orange County as the region’s primary provider of complex care. The backbone of the region’s emergency medical system, UCI Medical Center operates the county’s only Level I trauma center and regional burn center.

Q: What is your organization’s favorite part about living/working in Orange County?

A: We love our patients!

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