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Hoag Delivers Modern Maternity Care to Irvine

Hoag Memorial Hospital Presbyterian plans to bring greater convenience and choice to expecting mothers at its new birthing center in Irvine.

The Newport Beach-based hospital system unveiled the Fudge Family Birthing Suites at Hoag Hospital Irvine during a virtual grand opening event on Dec. 10.

The 31,600-square-feet facility, financed in part by a reported $4 million gift from its namesake donor Gary Fudge, introduces labor and delivery services for the first time to the Irvine campus.

The birthing center, located on the first floor of the hospital, features 12 birthing suites, two C-section operating rooms and a Level 2 neonatal intensive care unit.

It also boasts a range of non-traditional services including access to certified-nurse midwives, a pain management program that uses virtual reality and spa-like amenities.

It is staffed around the clock, and includes a team of about 70 dedicated midwives, nurses and physicians.

Comfort Suites, Amenities

The Fudge Family suites were created “by women for women,” Allyson Brooks, the Ginny Ueberroth executive medical director endowed chair of Hoag Women’s Health Institute, told the Business Journal.

Hoag asked thousands of mothers what they would do differently. Responses revealed a desire for less intervention, and more control over their experience, she said.

The birthing suites, which run about 400- to 500-square-feet apiece, were designed to that effect.

Women can labor, deliver, recover and spend their first days postpartum with their newborn baby in one room, she said.

Natural sunlight comes into the rooms through floor-length windows, and handpicked bed sheets and soft pastel colors create a light and airy aesthetic, she said.

The rooms also are accompanied by a private ‘Zen walking garden.’

Each suite features a private bathroom with a rain shower, as well as a lounging area for family members to gather. Due to the pandemic, Hoag currently prohibits visitors, with the exception of the expecting mother’s partner, though others can meet their newest member of their family through a virtual conference via a television in the room.

Adding to the spa-like conditions: after a one- to three-day stay, new parents can return home with their baby, along with complimentary Campo Modern Aromatherapy essential oils and a gift basket containing baby products from Lil ‘O’ Blossoms.

Hi-Tech Tools, Midwives

Hoag’s forward-looking choices go beyond the physical design of the birthing suites.

“From the outset, we didn’t just want to add a new location for the sake of convenience alone,” said Marcy Brown, chief hospital operations officer at Hoag. “We also wanted to address the changing desires and expectations of this generation of new families.”

For example, a virtual reality program called ‘NurtureVR,’ teaches mindfulness and has been shown to reduce pain as well as the need for pain medication during labor. Brooks developed NurtureVR with Robert Louis, chief of neurosurgery and the Empower360 Endowed Chair at Hoag.

Some suites are large enough to accommodate aqua or laboring tubs, which can ease pain, reduce swelling and fasten the recovery process for new mothers, Brooks said.

The Fudge Family suites also incorporates the midwifery model, which makes the center one of just two in OC to offer the service.

“Certified nurse midwives provide a wide range of primary health services, and many patients today are looking for the kind of wellness education, care and counseling that they deliver,” Kimberly Tillotson, director of the birthing suites and OB education at Hoag, said in a statement provided to the Business Journal.

Irvine Growth Continues

The Fudge Family suites introduce Hoag’s maternity services to Irvine, some 10 years after Hoag expanded its operations to the city.

“Year over year, our maternity care services in Newport Beach became more congested. Last year, about 30% of women delivering at Hoag came from the Irvine ZIP Code,” Brooks said.

The expansion is part of a recognition that Newport Beach and Irvine are separate communities, with their own needs for medical services near home. Expecting families in Irvine won’t have to drive down the Costa Mesa (55) Freeway to get to the hospital, and most importantly, women will be able to give birth closer to where they live and work, she said.

The total development cost for the Hoag project hasn’t been disclosed; by comparison, a 14-room, 50,000-square-foot birthing facility in Rancho Mirage set to open this year is reportedly costing between $20 million and $25 million.

The Fudge facility is the largest addition to the Irvine hospital in recent years, and comes after the 2018 opening of the Benjamin & Carmela Du Emergency Pavilion.

It’s certainly not the last expansion planned for Hoag in the city.

Hoag filed plans in November with the city for a major expansion of its Irvine campus; the hospital plans next year to buy its property and excess land for about $226 million, regulatory filings indicate.

City filings indicate that land has the potential to hold more than a dozen new facilities on the campus. Additions under consideration include a Women’s Hospital as well as a Digestive Health Hospital, among other medical buildings, support facilities and parking structures, city filings show.

The filings indicate the two-phased expansion could add approximately 432,000 square feet to the Hoag campus, and increase the number of hospital beds there from 144 to 391.

A timeframe for the project moving ahead hasn’t been disclosed.

The birthing suites is the second substantial reported gift that Gary Fudge, the founder of, has given to Hoag. In 2014, he provided a $1.5 million gift to support Hoag’s Stroke Program within the Pickup Family Neurosciences Institute in Newport Beach.

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