Primary Children's Hospital

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Primary Children's Hospital on Twelfth Avenue in Salt Lake City

The Primary Children’s Hospital began in 1911 after May Anderson noticed a child laboring on crutches along a Salt Lake City street and recognized a need for a hospital specializing in the needs of children. General Primary president Louie B. Felt supported the cause and a children’s ward was established in the LDS Hospital in 1913.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints responded to a request from the Primary organization that a separate facility where pediatric professionals could care for children by purchasing and remodeling a large, old home on North Temple Street in Salt Lake to open a 35-bed facility on May 12, 1922. At the time, surgeries continued to be performed at LDS Hospital and then the children convalesced in the Primary facility. By 1937, the need outgrew the facility, but funds to build a new hospital were not accumulated until well after the end of World War II. The new 70-bed Primary Children’s Hospital was completed on Twelfth Avenue in Salt Lake and occupied on February 12, 1952, thanks to fundraising by Frances Grant Bennett and general Church funds. The building was expanded to 84 beds in 1961 and now housed acute care services and surgeries. The hospital doubled in size in 1966 when a new wing was completed. LDS Hospital then closed its pediatric unit and the care for children was shifted to the Primary Children’s Hospital.

Need continued to expand and in 1990, the hospital opened a new facility in the University of Utah Medical Complex. The hospital for a time was called the Intermountain Primary Children’s Medical Center, but the name has gone back to its origins and is now called Intermountain Primary Children’s Hospital. The facility has expanded to 289 inpatient beds. Care has also been expanded: behavioral health patients are treated at three off-site locations and rehabilitation therapy is offered to outpatients at four off-site locations. Outpatient surgery, radiology, pediatric sub-specialty clinics, and other services are available in an additional-capacity facility in Riverton, Utah.

In 1922, Primary general board member Nelle Talmage suggested an annual “Penny Day” when members of the Church could contribute pennies equaling their age. This effort was to help patients who could not pay for care. A cardboard replica of the building often served as a bank where children could place their pennies on their birthdays or during a “Penny Parade” held during weekly Primary meetings. The program continues today as the “Pennies by the Inch” campaign, where donors are encouraged to donate a penny for each inch of their height. The drive is carried out online and door-by-door.

Members of the Church of Jesus Christ had noticed a need for medical care in the early years of settling the Salt Lake Valley. Deseret Hospital and LDS Hospital were created and supported, in part, by the LDS Church and its members. The Primary Children’s Hospital grew under the auspices of the Primary Association until 1975 when the Church created an independent, nonprofit corporation, Intermountain Healthcare, and all the Church’s hospital holdings, including Primary Children’s Hospital, were transferred to that corporation.