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  • Christina S. Johnson

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  • Christina S. Johnson

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Opening of New Era in Medicine at UC San Diego

Jacobs Medical Center to offer highly specialized inpatient care


Exterior view of the 10-story Jacobs Medical Center at UC San Diego Health. Photos by Erik Jepsen/UC San Diego Publications

Redefining the standard of specialized inpatient care in San Diego, the long-awaited Jacobs Medical Center opened its doors to patients last week after nearly a decade of planning and construction.

Jacobs Medical Center represents a tremendous investment in the future and will transform health care for our region. We express our profound gratitude to Joan and Irwin Jacobs, and to all donors, for making this hospital a reality. Their generous gifts have created a new world-class hospital for the San Diego region. Jacobs Medical Center will serve patients locally, nationally and globally.
– UC San Diego Chancellor Pradeep K. Khosla

By the end of opening day, more than 100 patients—from neonates in incubators to adults battling cancer—had been safely transferred to the new hospital’s specialty care units.

Overnight, the facility, described previously by statistics—509,500 square feet, 10 stories and 245 beds—was alive with people caring for those requiring hospitalization, in the region’s most advanced medical center.

“We delivered our first baby last night and performed our first surgery this morning,” said Patty Maysent, CEO of UC San Diego Health, the clinical enterprise of the university’s health sciences, at a press conference the morning of Nov. 21. “The Jacobs Medical Center is a resource for the whole community and is open to everyone.”


The Kircher triplets — Grady, Luke and Wyatt — were born prematurely at 28 weeks gestation, each weighing less than three pounds. Now steadily growing, the siblings are among the first patients to receive care at Jacobs Medical Center, where the Level III Neonatal Intensive Care Unit features private rooms.

Jacobs Medical Center, named in recognition of more than $100 million in gifts from Joan and Irwin Jacobs, represents the epitome of what modern medicine has become at the nation’s top academic medical centers—advanced technologies supporting highly specialized care, delivered by multidisciplinary teams of doctors, nurses and technicians.

“What you hear people say is that they knew we provided world-class care; now they have the facility to match it,” Maysent said. “There is a sense of pride in what we are able to do here.”

Dr. David Brenner, Vice Chancellor for Health Sciences and Dean of the School of Medicine, described the hospital as also honoring the vision of UC San Diego’s founders, who recognized early on the value of basic science to advancing medicine.

“At Jacobs Medical Center, patients can experience the unique benefits of an academic health system, where physicians, researchers and nurses work side-by-side to deliver the finest in modern medicine within a best-in-class patient care environment,” Brenner said.

Jacobs Medical Center is home to three specialty care units, named in recognition of major philanthropists:

  • A. Vassiliadis Family Pavilion for Advanced Surgery, which is dedicated to complex surgical care such as MRI-guided gene therapy for brain cancer, complex spine and joint reconstruction, and delicate microsurgery to restore voice and hearing
  • Pauline and Stanley Foster Pavilion for Cancer Care, which nearly doubles UC San Diego Health’s ability to provide inpatient care to cancer patients from all over the region
  • Rady Pavilion for Women and Infants, which offers care for every kind of birth, including a Birth Center staffed by midwives and a Level III Neonatal Intensive Care Unit for critically ill and premature infants

Patient Experience

Besides advancing inpatient care services, the opening of Jacobs Medical Center is energizing a cultural shift at UC San Diego Health, one that is placing greater emphasis on the more intangible but no less important elements of patient care.


Patient rooms in Jacobs Medical Center at UC San Diego Health feature natural light, art and unique technology that allows patients to access medical records, read about care providers, and control light, climate and entertainment options. Photo by Kyle Dykes/UC San Diego Health

“From a cultural point of view, Jacobs Medical Center sets our frame on our patients’ experience, their families experience and the experience for faculty, staff and students,” Maysent said.

All patient rooms in the hospital are private with floor-to-ceiling windows and a “smart” bed oriented for the best views of the surrounding La Jolla/UTC area. Each room also has its own dedicated iPad that lets patients control their climate and lighting, access their medical charts, and watch entertainment on their Apple TV. There are family areas with lounges and kitchenettes on every patient floor, and a fold-out bed in each patient room. Bringing the family into the care environment is especially important for neonates. “We know the best medicine for infants is the voice and touch of their parents,” Maysent said.


Roses and Two Lemons by Manny Farber (1996) is an oil on board featured on floor 1 of Jacobs Medical Center at UC San Diego Health. Photo by Kyle Dykes/UC San Diego Health

In some parts of the medical center, you may forget you are in a hospital at all. Longtime university benefactor Joan Jacobs and Kathryn Kanjo, chief executive of the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego, have assembled a museum-quality therapeutic art collection, with (to date) more than 150 paintings, drawings, sculptures, a tapestry and photographs placed throughout the hospital. The cafeteria sports a healthy salad bar, with lots of locally sourced produce, and patients can order meals from a customizable restaurant-style menu. Multiple landscaped courtyards and terrace gardens further add to the upscale ambiance.

“Jacobs Medical Center is just one part of how we are transforming care for our campus and community,” Maysent said, citing the new primary care clinics close to campus on Villa La Jolla Drive and the under-construction outpatient pavilion by Jacobs Medical Center. “We have internal medicine, urgent care, gynecology, pediatric care and psychiatry service just down the hill. We will soon offer more complex outpatient services here on campus. Our message to the community—and to the campus in particular—is that we can take care of you no matter what. We really want the message to ring out: We are here to take care of our people.”

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