Opus Bank in Irvine, Calif., is getting into health care.

The $3 billion-asset bank said Tuesday it has formed a unit within its commercial banking division that will lend money to physicians, dentists, veterinarians and ophthalmologists for practice deals, equipment financing and other capital needs.

More banks are focusing on health care as they compete for specialty loans and niche customers. Citizens Financial Group,  Regions Financial (RF), Huntington Bancshares (HBAN) and KeyCorp (KEY) are among the large regional banks with health care units, and community banks such as Pacific Continental (PCBK) have  pushed into the market.

Opus also said it has named Evan Barker senior managing director of health care banking. Barker joins Opus from Sunwest Bank in Tustin, where he managed the health care division for nearly three years after serving in similar positions with Partners Bank of California in Mission Viejo and Pacific Mercantile Bank (PMBC) in Costa Mesa.

"The health care sector continues to undergo significant transition, and health care professionals are constantly having to adapt in order to compete," Stephen Gordon, Opus' chief executive, said in a press release. "Opus Bank is keenly committed to backing those health care professionals, practices and businesses looking for a financial partner who understands their business and related challenges."

Gordon called Barker "a highly regarded banking veteran with a consistent history of success banking health care practices and their physician-owners up and down the West Coast."

Opus has 52 branches throughout California and Washington's Puget Sound region. The company said recently it would buy four branches in California from Zions Bancorp (ZION).

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