New children's hospital dedicated

$70 million facility preserves tradition of care established by Primary in 1911

On the roof of the new Primary Children's Medical Center situated in the foothills overlooking Salt Lake City, President Gordon B. Hinckley dedicated the new facility May 17 "for the great purposes for which it has been constructed."

Community leaders and hospital administration and staff attended the dedication ceremony.Located on the University of Utah campus adjacent to the University Medical Center, the new hospital replaces the former facility in the avenues area of Salt Lake City.

Formerly owned by the Church, the hospital carries on the tradition established when it was founded by the Primary Association: to provide the best possible medical care for children without regard to race, religion, nationality or the ability to pay.

In his prayer, President Hinckley, first counselor in the First Presidency, noted that the new hospital is the "fruition of a great dream begun many years ago when a few women whose hearts reached out to suffering children began what came to be known as the Primary Children's Hospital."

The women to whom he referred include Louie B. Felt, general president of the Primary from 1889 to 1925, and her first counselor, May Anderson.

In 1911, as they happened upon a small crippled boy on the street, they conceived the idea of a convalescent care facility for crippled children.

President Joseph F. Smith and his counselors in the First Presidency approved the idea, and some beds for children were placed in a section of the Latter-day Saints Hospital in Salt Lake City. The Primary General Board established a hospital fund to help pay the medical expenses of the children.

In 1922 the hospital was moved to a home on North Temple donated for that purpose.

The need for larger, more adequate facilities soon became apparent.

Thus began a tradition in the Primary that would be continued for many years, illustrated by a photo in the April 16, 1932, Deseret News Church Section showing children dropping pennies into a cardboard replica of the hospital.

The "Penny Parade," as the fund raising campaign was called, continued into the early 1970s.

Children were asked to donate a penney for each year of their age, and then to earn and contribute 10 cents for each brick of the planned new facility. Matching funds were provided by the Church.

President David O. McKay dedicated the distinctive, red building in the avenues on March 2, 1952. In 1966, LaVern W. Parmley, Primary general president, directed the dedication of a new wing on the hospital.

Over the years, it evolved from a simple attempt to aid crippled children to a specialized pediatric hospital. By 1973, it had become a medical center with a full range of pediatric services.

In 1975, the Church transferred its hospitals, including Primary Children's Medical Center, to private ownership. Possession of the pediatric facility passed to Intermountain Health Care.

Ground was broken for the $70 million medical center on Oct. 2, 1986, and the state-of-the-art facility opened April 23 of this year. More than 150 patients were moved from the avenues location to the new center.

The medical center retains its medical staff, board of trustees and administration. Hospital personnel are affiliated with the university's Department of Pediatrics. Thus, one of the functions of Primary Children's is the training of skilled medical care providers.

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