CHOC Children’s Campus: Then and Now

CHOC in its earliest days

It’s been fascinating to watch how medicine and technology have changed at CHOC Children’s since I first visited 50 years ago. But just as amazing is how much the hospital’s campus has evolved since 1964.

As you know now, CHOC opened its doors in Orange on Oct. 5, 1964. At the time, the four-story, 62-bed facility was situated on the campus of St. Joseph Hospital. The building cost $2.5 million to build, and took about five years of planning.

Expansion began almost immediately, and hasn’t stopped since: In 1965, outpatient clinics opened on campus. By 1968, CHOC’s bed count increased to 104.

The CHOC Tower

In 1975, a nearby five-story building was purchased to house the hospital’s neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) and pediatric intensive care unit (PICU). This building, known as the CHOC Tower, increased the hospital’s bed count to 202 by 1978.

A nearby 93,000-square-foot building was purchased from Pacific Telephone Co. in 1983 to make room for administration, education and a new clinic and ambulatory care space. This facility is now known as CHOC West.

The North Tower
The North Tower

In 1992, CHOC completed construction on a six-story acute care hospital, requiring the demolition of the CHOC Tower.

That space is known today as the North Tower, the sister of the Bill Holmes Tower that opened in 2013. The 425,000-square-foot space tripled CHOC’s size and brought all services under one roof for the first time after nearly 50 years of sharing services with St. Joseph Hospital.

And CHOC will continue to grow: The Holmes Tower includes empty space that can be built out as new needs arise.

The Bill Holmes Tower
The Bill Holmes Tower

CHOC has continued to grow outside of Orange as well: Nearly a dozen clinics dot the county, as well as Riverside County. Also, we have a mobile clinic that moves all over the place.

And don’t forget that CHOC Children’s health system includes a separate hospital located in Mission Viejo:  CHOC Children’s at Mission Hospital opened in 1993, and occupies the fifth floor of Mission Hospital. The hospital provides excellent care to the families of south Orange County and beyond.

Isn’t it comforting to know that CHOC stands ready to help children wherever they may be? What do you remember about CHOC’s campus through the years? Share your memory on social media with the hashtag #thxCHOC.