IRVINE – The former Irvine Regional Hospital and Medical Center reopened this week as Hoag Hospital Irvine, whose renovations came in so far under budget that officials decided to add more features.

“As we got favorable savings we then redeployed those dollars to increase the scope” of the renovations, said Robert Braithwaite, the hospital’s chief administrative officer.

The depressed economy led to less expensive bids from contractors for the $84-million project, Braithwaite said.

“The contractors were terrific,” Braithwaite said, adding they were more flexible on work hours and accelerating deadlines.

The recession has been hard on the medical industry, too, but Braithwaite is optimistic about his new hospital’s future.

Hoag Hospital in Newport Beach is at capacity so the new medical center at 16200 San Canyon Avenue in Irvine will help with the patient load, Braithwaite said.

“We are out of space and at capacity in Newport Beach,” Braithwaite said.

Business was not the driving force behind the Newport Beach hospital’s takeover of the shuttered Irvine Regional Hospital and Medical Center in February 2009, Braithwaite said.

“Irvine has a population of about 210,000, which swells to 325,000 during the business day, and it was the second-largest city without a hospital, so we realized it’s very consistent with our mission,” Braithwaite said.

“It’s a sorely needed asset in this community, so we largely purchased it from a mission perspective. That was key.”

The new hospital features: modern operating rooms, a cardiovascular center, radiology department, an orthopedics center, and a fully-staffed emergency room.