LDS Hospital

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LDS Hospital

The roots of the current LDS Hospital come from the Relief Society. In 1874, Brigham Young, president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, encouraged the women of the Church to travel to the Eastern United States and obtain medical degrees. A number of women responded, including Ellis Reynolds Shipp, Martha Hughes Cannon, Romania B. Pratt Penrose, Ellen B. Ferguson, and Elvira S. Barney. They returned to Utah, especially trained in obstetrics and prepared to help care for women and infants, and others. Under the leadership of Eliza R. Snow women of the Church raised funds for a hospital to complement the other hospitals established in the Salt Lake Valley—Holy Cross Hospital and St. Marks Hospital—established by the Catholic and Episcopalian churches. Their motivation was to have a place where “spiritual ministrations could accompany medical treatment.”[1]

President John Taylor allowed the Deseret Hospital to be constructed and it was dedicated on July 17, 1882. With twelve beds, the hospital had a homelike atmosphere and was staffed predominantly by women physicians. It also featured up-to-date medical equipment. In July 1884, the Deseret Hospital moved to a larger facility with a capacity for up to fifty patients, but typically only sixteen patients were cared for at a time. The hospital continued to be supported by donations and the staff treated many patients who could not pay for their care. The hospital was able to continue running until it ran out of funds in 1894. However, the Deseret Hospital nursing and midwifery schools continued to operate until the Groves Latter-day Saints Hospital opened in 1905. Interest in having a hospital sponsored by the Church continued.

Deseret Hospital, replica of the second building, located at This Is the Place Heritage Park

W. H. Groves, an LDS dentist, donated money to purchase the land on which the LDS Hospital was first built. It was completed in 1905 and served as a nursing school and training ground for physicians.

LDS Hospital continued to expand and from 1913 to 1922 had a children’s ward that eventually separated and became Primary Children's Hospital. Fifteen branches of the hospital eventually grew from the original single hospital, all operated under the direction of the Presiding Bishopric until 1970, when the Health Services Corporation of the Church was organized and a commissioner of health was appointed to oversee the health needs of the Church and to coordinate the health care offered at the fifteen hospitals.

In 1974, the First Presidency announced that the fifteen hospitals would be donated to a nonprofit organization. In a news release, they said, in part, that the Church could now devote full effort of its Health Services to the needs of the worldwide Church. The nonprofit, Intermountain Health Care, took operation of the hospitals as of April 1, 1975.