City of Hope Orange County's Hospital Topping Off Ceremony

A beam of Hope rises: City of Hope celebrates "Topping Off" of Orange County's only specialty cancer hospital

Hundreds of grateful patients, community members, and City of Hope leaders came together on Wednesday for a “Topping Off” ceremony to honor the teams who are dedicating their talents and time to building Orange County’s only hospital exclusively focused on treating and curing cancer.

The ceremony, celebrating the installation of the hospital’s final structural beam, marked a significant step toward advancing City of Hope’s comprehensive cancer campus in Irvine. 

"I am filled with joy and emotion as we take another step closer in our fight to beat cancer,” said Annette M. Walker, President, City of Hope Orange County. “Today we take a moment to honor the women and men of the construction industry who are making this happen. They know that this is not ordinary work, but the work of angels often done in honor of someone they love who has been affected by cancer.” 

Opening in 2025, the 73-bed hospital will complete the care continuum for the county’s largest network dedicated to cancer prevention, diagnosis, treatment, and survivorship. 

City of Hope has cared for thousands of patients at City of Hope Orange County Lennar Foundation Cancer Center — Orange County’s most advanced comprehensive cancer center — since it opened in August 2022. 

Grateful patient Mark DeSantis, who is receiving care at the cancer center, said it is difficult to describe the sense of hope and healing he feels knowing City of Hope is close to home. “When I get my treatment here on the fifth floor, when I look out, I can almost see my house. It’s also reassuring to know the hospital will be here. You can’t fully appreciate how important this is until you or someone you love needs the care it provides, and this hospital means more people will access the best cancer care when they need it.”

The inpatient cancer hospital will be seamlessly connected to the outpatient center. The opening of the six-story, 164,000-square-foot hospital will expand City of Hope’s ability to provide advanced cancer care and pioneering research to patients and their families. 

The “Topping Off” ceremony is a longstanding tradition in the construction industry. Typically, a Christmas tree is placed on top of the beam as a crane drops it in place. City of Hope placed one of its beloved wishing trees on the beam. The wishing tree was decorated with tags containing messages of hope for people with cancer and the community.  

“We’re all here to acknowledge, honor and thank people who don't always get the spotlight – our construction crews,” said Rodney Freeman, lead construction advisor and founder and principal of The Freeman Group.  “Yes, we have on hand the essential "suits" who contribute their expertise to every project, but we could not deliver on our mission without “the boots” on the ground. These individuals show up, rain or shine, to turn our vision into reality, to literally build hope, brick by brick, beam by beam.” 

Yasmin Contreras, a construction worker on the project, and others wrote heartfelt messages on the beam in the hopes that other families confronting cancer will find the compassion she did at City of Hope. Contreras’s cousin was a City of Hope patient and inspired her to work on the new hospital. 

“City of Hope is a special place for my family and me because it provided hope when no other place could, and being on the hospital construction team is a way of giving back for the extra time we were able to have with our cousin,” Contreras said. 

The beam was signed by hundreds of members of the construction crews, physicians, staff, community leaders, philanthropic supporters, and grateful patients who have supported City of Hope in bringing to Orange County advanced cancer research and treatment. 

"As we raise this beam, we celebrate that advanced cancer clinical trials and treatments are here for Orange County residents,” said Edward Kim, M.D., M.B.A., Senior Vice President and Physician-in-Chief, City of Hope Orange County. “The level of care that we bring to Orange County is the reason dozens of world-renowned cancer specialists now practice at our cancer center, and more physician-scientists will join us as we continue to fill a need in the community for advanced cancer care.”

City of Hope is where cancer loses and life wins. To make an appointment at any of City of Hope’s Orange County locations, call 888-333-HOPE (4673).

City of Hope Orange County's Hospital Topping Off Ceremony
City of Hope Orange County's Hospital Topping Off Ceremony
City of Hope Orange County's Hospital Topping Off Ceremony
City of Hope Orange County's Hospital Topping Off Ceremony
City of Hope Orange County's Hospital Topping Off Ceremony