City of Hope Orange County Lennar Foundation Cancer Center welcomed the first patients Monday in Irvine, bringing to the county a facility where specialized care, diagnostics, prevention, labs, and testing happen all in one place. There’s also the Hope Boutique, a full salon with specialty shopping.
City of Hope Orange County President Annette Walker is proud of meeting the target date and the opportunity presented for local residents. “There is no doubt that we will be the most advanced cancer prevention center in the county from a technical and expertise point of view,” she says. “Couch all of that inside a thoughtfully planned and comfortable center for patients and guests. It will feel the most like a home (as possible) instead of a facility. We’ve been so excited because we had this vision and this dream, and it’s actually happening.”
The center includes artwork from O.C. artists and rotating exhibits, so it won’t feel like a standard hospital setting; rather it will be warm and personal. Even if you don’t have occasion to go to the cancer center, it’s possible to get a glimpse of the human experience as you shop. A collaboration between City of Hope and South Coast Plaza, “Hope Is a Masterpiece” brings together five artists who were inspired by the survival stories of patients to create something beautiful on 7-foot letters that spell HOPE. Check out the artwork at the Jewel Court through Aug. 28.
Art doesn’t seem the obvious draw for a cancer center, but there’s a strong commitment to integrative medicine at City of Hope Orange County, including acupuncture, massage, and meditation. “The arts reflect our interest in integrative medicine practices that have not been part of the standard of care for cancer centers. There is substantial evidence of the efficacy of these therapies, especially to help people with cancer deal with pain, anxiety, and other symptoms,” says Richard T. Lee, Medical Director, Integrative Medicine Program, City of Hope. “Art can provide a peaceful environment for patients—contributing to their overall well-being on their journey to survivorship.”
Walker agrees that the O.C. community is interested in integrative medicine. “This definitely has its place in cancer treatment. We’re unusual (that way) … you won’t find many integrative medicine pros who also specialize in cancer.”
The center comes at a good time: The cancer incidence rate in O.C. is projected to increase by 18 percent in the next decade as the percentage of seniors here is higher than the national average. City of Hope Orange County’s 575 physicians and 1,000 researchers will be busy.
“Not all organizations would have the courage to enter a market and build from scratch,” Walker says. “We’ve realized an answer to a need the community had. … When I first took the job, people thanked me because they had so wanted to be treated at City of Hope, but (Duarte) was too far. To be answering the community like that … it’s an awesome moment to be part of.”