Chad Lefteris CEO of UCI Health

Photos by Steve Zylius and Christopher Todd

An Interview with Chad Lefteris, CEO of UCI Health

By Jacqueline Thompson

I had the opportunity to connect with Chad Lefteris, CEO of UCI Health, to take an in depth look at UCI Health’s initiatives. As a local, I’m passionate about seeing their work thrive in our community. The recent groundbreaking event for the new hospital was a milestone, and I am so grateful I was able to be there to support the organization in person. I believe that great things happen when we unite in support of common goals. Together, we can all play a part in making the impossible, possible.

How is UCI Health creating the new standards of medicine?

As Orange County’s only academic health system, our multifaceted organization is dedicated to expanding the frontiers of medicine through clinical innovation rooted in world-class research and a daily commitment to providing the best healthcare available. This union, reflected in our mission to Discover, Teach, Heal, drives UCI Health to pioneer new therapies and techniques that have been adopted by institutions across the nation.

Just a few of the ways the insights of UCI Health clinicians and researchers are creating new standards of medicine:

  • Gastroenterologist Dr. Kenneth Chang, executive director of the UCI Health Digestive Health Institute, was named The Orange County Business Journal Innovator of the Year for his development of a minimally invasive device critical to diagnosing liver health, especially in those with a form of fatty liver disease that has become the leading cause of liver transplantation in the US. The device, which received FDA approval last year, is quickly becoming the standard of care at leading digestive health centers around the country.
  • UCI’s Philip Felgner, PhD, professor in the UCI School of Medicine and director of UCI’s Vaccine Research and Development Center, received the Global Impact Award for his lifelong work that supported the development of the first commercially available mRNA vaccines, specifically the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines for COVID-19.
  • The Center for Artificial Intelligence in Diagnostic Medicine at UCI is accelerating healthcare improvements through the deployment of artificial intelligence-based healthcare tools, such as a process to assess stroke and brain hemorrhage faster than previously possible in the emergency room.
  • UCI Health is a world leader in researching and providing a variety of treatments for brain cancers — including glioblastoma, the deadliest form of the cancer — that have successfully extended the survival and quality of life for many patients.
  • UCI Alpha Stem Cell Clinic is testing a promising new therapy aimed at regaining lost function after a stroke. By implanting stem cells, researchers hope to trigger the regrowth of brain cells.

What impact will the new hospital have for patients in Orange County?

The new UCI Medical Center – Irvine will be a full-service academic medical complex bringing a broad range 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, the medical complex will connect with the UCI Health primary care network throughout Orange County, creating the region’s only health system supported by one of the nation’s premier academic research institutions. Key clinical programs available include oncology, neurology and neurosurgery, orthopedics and spine surgery and advanced digestive health services. The medical center will also be a hub for participation in Orange County’s largest clinical trials portfolio, including early phase trials, in cancer, neurosciences, stem cell- derived treatments, internal medicine and more.

Tell us more about Phase One of the UCI Health Center for Advanced Care

Tell us more about Phase One of the UCI Health Center for Advanced Care which will include the Center for Children’s Health, The Center for Autism & Neurodevelopmental Disorders of Southern California, a digestive health center, orthopedic services, wellness programs and other specialty care.

We’re very excited about the UCI Health Center for Advanced Care. It will the first of the three buildings to open at the new medical complex and it is scheduled to be completed in 2023. In addition to our Children’s Health Center and the Center for Autism & Neurodevelopmental Disorders of Southern California, adult primary care, laboratory, radiology services and various other specialty care, it will also feature an urgent care center which will provide easy access to care for urgent treatment.

The Center for Advanced Care will be focused on meeting the evolving needs of the community and responding to the changing healthcare environment while expanding care access throughout the region and health education, all while providing a comfortable place for patients and their families.

From donations to volunteering, what are ways people can get involved to help bring the new hospital to life?

We are seeking the community’s philanthropic support to build this new medical center that will serve our whole region. We are very grateful for the generous donations we have already received, and we need the community’s help to get us to the finish line. It’s clear that the community is excited about our new medical complex, and we’re excited to bring academic medicine to south Orange County. The project is estimated to cost $1.3 billion and since UCI Health is not funded through taxpayer dollars, philanthropic support is vital. With the support of our community, we will get to our fundraising goal of $100M.

Volunteering is a wonderful way for the community to get involved. At our location in Orange, before the COVID pandemic, we averaged 600 volunteers at any given moment. Our volunteers play a vital role in enhancing patient experience and their assistance enables our staff to focus on patient care. We will need additional volunteers at the new medical complex, and we’ll open the application process as construction completion approaches.

Contact Jacqueline Thompson today at (949) 326-3392 to learn more about Coastal Orange County.

Be sure to check out our Instagram @JacquelineThompsonGroup and like + follow us on Facebook Jacqueline Thompson Group.

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