Latter-day Saint Foundation adds to Primary Children's Medical Center fund drive

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints Foundation will be a major participant in a capital campaign at Utah's Primary Children's Medical Center that will help build a much-needed outpatient services building at the hospital.

Presiding Bishop H. David Burton announced April 22 that the Church is donating $1 million to the project. That gift will be added to the $3 million contribution from the George S. and Dolores Dore Eccles Foundation.

The announcement of the gifts was made in conjunction with a celebration of the hospital's move 20 years ago from the old Primary Children's building in the Salt Lake City Avenues to the existing Primary Children's facility on the University of Utah campus. The storied hospital was opened, owned and operated by the Church for several decades.

"Whatever it takes to maintain the physical and spiritual health of our posterity, we support," said Presiding Bishop Burton at the announcement ceremony.

"The Child First and Always" campaign was launched last year with Primary Children's employees pledging more than a half million dollars in support. The major gifts from the Eccles foundation and the Church's foundation, along with additional gifts from medical staff and board members, bring the campaign nearly halfway to its $20 million goal.

Four-year-old Cystic Fibrosis patient Kaylee Satterfield, Riverton, gets the first piece of cake fro
Four-year-old Cystic Fibrosis patient Kaylee Satterfield, Riverton, gets the first piece of cake from LDS Church Presiding Bishop H. David Burton and Spencer Eccles (R) at Primary Childrens Medical Center in Salt Lake City, Utah, Thursday, April 22, 2010. | Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News

Funds raised through the campaign will support major capital and research projects, including a new outpatient services building to be built across the street from the existing hospital. The more than $100 million addition to the Primary Children's campus, named in recognition of the Eccles foundation's founders, George and Dolores Eccles, will create much needed space for the ever-increasing volume of patients and clinical needs at the hospital.

The future outpatient building will allow the hospital to move clinics away from the main building — opening up additional bed space for young patients. Joe Mott, CEO of Primary Children's Medical Center, said extra beds are especially needed during seasonal disease outbreaks that can leave hundreds of local children in need of heightened care.

"We're bursting at the seams," Mr. Mott said.

He expressed gratitude to the Eccles foundation and the Church, saying their contributions will allow the hospital to provide the best pediatric care possible. "It's an exciting day for Primary Children's Medical Center...we're embarking on a landmark event," he said.

Spencer F. Eccles, chairman & CEO of the Eccles foundation and long-time Primary Children's Foundation trustee, spoke of his enthusiasm for the new project. "I know that this new building and other facilities...are critically needed and deserve the enthusiastic support of our community," he said.

"Children are one of God's greatest gifts," Bishop Burton said. "Helping them receive the medical care they need is a worthy cause and we are pleased to make this contribution to Primary Children's Medical Center. So many have been blessed by the hospital's excellent care and we want to see this continue far into the future."

Utah business leader and Primary Children's Foundation Trustee Arlen Crouch will lead the committee raising the additional $10 million in private funding sought through "The Child First and Always" campaign. He remembered being a young LDS Primary boy in Idaho and marking each birthday by dropping his pennies into a small bank fashioned in the shape of the old Avenues hospital.

The Church's Primary Association opened Primary Children's hospital in 1922 in a large old home at 40 W. North Temple, across from Temple Square. The Church moved the hospital to a 70-bed building on Twelfth Avenue 30 years later. For decades, Primary children were encouraged to donate their pennies, nickels and dimes to help raise funds for the hospital.

In 1975, the Church created an independent, nonprofit corporation — Intermountain Healthcare — into which all the Church's hospital holdings were transferred. Primary Children's Medical Center was included in that donation to the community and remains part of the Intermountain Healthcare system today.

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