EVERY BUILDING HAS A STORY. Just ask the people who built it, or the people who conceived of the project, or those who hope to be served by it in the future. If you were to talk to the thousands of people who played a role in bringing the new Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center to life, you would hear thousands of different stories of how it came to be.
While the medical center will not open to patients until 2008, on June 4, 2007, we dedicated our new building – home to three hospitals: Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center, Mattel Children’s Hospital UCLA and the Stewart and Lynda Resnick Neuropsychiatric Hospital at UCLA. As we considered the magnitude of this accomplishment, we imagined the people who transformed the original vision for this project into a reality. From the architects to the construction workers to the engineers to the donors to the patients, Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center is the culmination of a truly collaborative process.
It has been a long journey for us. It has certainly been a long journey for me. Not only has this project taken up nearly 20 percent of my life, but I also seem to have lost about 20 percent of my hair in the process. This is the biggest construction project in the history of the University of California, and we’ve had our share of tough challenges, whether it was getting enough funding, or keeping the construction on track, or incorporating new technologies into the building that weren’t even invented when we fi rst began its planning. But thanks to all that hard work, we are able to celebrate the completion of the major construction.
As one walks through the halls of Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center, it is impossible not to imagine what will transpire in this remarkable new building. We think about all of the children who will be born here. We think about the people who will come here for comfort, healing and hope. We think of the diseases that will be fought here. We think of the young doctors and nurses who will learn their life’s calling here. We think of the medical-research breakthroughs that will be uncovered here and will echo across the globe. We think of the countless miracles that will happen inside these walls.
We’re now entering the final lap. After an aircraft carrier is christened, the U.S. Navy spends the next year testing every piece of equipment and outfi tting the fi nal interior touches. So it is with hospitals. Our new building cannot, and will not, open until the entire staff has been fully trained and until every last piece of equipment, from a light switch to an MRI machine, is demonstrated to be fully operational. That means that over the coming months we’ll continue to stay incredibly focused. We’ll be fi tting up the internal systems, installing and testing the clinical and IT equipment and, most important, training our 10,000 doctors, employees and volunteers to make sure everyone is comfortable in their new home.
It’s an honor to celebrate this project, and humbling to think about what this building holds for tomorrow. Together we’ve constructed a new foundation to build upon UCLA’s traditions of medical education, groundbreaking research and unparalleled patient care. The story of this building, of our building, has just begun.
Gerald S. Levey, M.D.
Vice Chancellor, UCLA Medical Sciences
Dean, David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA