Primary Children’s Hospital will build a second campus in Lehi, Intermountain Healthcare announced Tuesday morning.
“It is a burden to be away from your community,” Intermountain Healthcare CEO Marc Harrison said. “To keep people in the right place at the right time, near their families, and to do that at the right cost, it is such a privilege, and that is what a model health care system for the future looks like.”
The announcement was made during a press conference Tuesday while Intermountain Healthcare unveiled a plan to expand its model of care for children. The plan included several building blocks that will span multiple generations, including improving the neonatal intensive care and cancer units at Primary Children’s Hospital in Salt Lake City.
The hospital is expected to open in 2023.
Intermountain Healthcare did not announce when construction will begin on the hospital, where it will be built or which services it will provide.
Katy Welkie, the CEO of Primary Children’s Hospital, said that the hospital needs to continue to make advancements as the population grows.
“It really is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to transform the care of children’s health,” Welkie said.
Welkie said the new system will build upon Intermountain Healthcare’s existing strengths.
The new system will be multifaceted, regional and generation-spanning, she said. It will include advancing treatments for high-risk pregnancies, launching a coordinated healthy kids program to help children who have had traumatic experiences, and partnering with agencies across the state for teen to adult transition programs in order to address the state’s mental and behavioral health crisis.
The program will also utilize telehealth and expand the network into local clinics.
Intermountain Healthcare will be implementing the program through a $50 million donation from the Miller family.
Gail Miller, a businesswoman, philanthropist and the chair of the Intermountain Healthcare Board of Trustees, shared her personal experiences with the hospital, which include how it has cared for two of her grandchildren who were born prematurely and for her son after he needed two surgeries.
“The doctors and the nurses there were incredible,” she said.
That son, Greg Miller, was present Tuesday to talk about the importance of the hospital in his life.
“Because of the doctors at Primary Children’s Hospital who saved my life, I am here to enjoy the experience of being here with my children and their families, including my eight — soon to be nine — grandchildren,” he said.
He said the family has always seen their businesses as a way to help others, and that they will be directing their efforts over the next decade to the new initiative.
“This concept of a coordinated, comprehensive health care system is innovative and will bless the lives of countless children,” he said.
Lt. Gov. Spencer Cox referred to the announcement as historic.
“We are so blessed, blessed in this state to have had this facility for so long,” he said.
Cox shared that his sister was diagnosed with cystic fibrosis as a child and wasn’t expected to live to adulthood. She was rushed to Primary Children’s Hospital and was treated, and she recently celebrated her 40th birthday.
He said the new plan will allow Utah to be preventive when it comes to behavioral health and will lead to more youth graduating from high school and fewer people in jail.
“It’s not just about health care, it is about life care,” Cox said. “It is about giving kids opportunities in the future so that they have it better than their parents.”
He expressed his gratitude to the Millers for their donation.
“There are angels among us, and the Miller family are those angels,” Cox said.
The Utah Valley Chamber of Commerce applauded the decision to expand to Utah County.
“Having Primary Children’s Hospital in Utah County makes perfect sense,” Rona Rahlf, the president and CEO of the Utah Valley Chamber of Commerce said in an emailed statement. “The birth rate in the county leads the country and to have this incredible resource available to families so close to home is a welcome addition.”
A handful of governmental entities, including the Utah County Commission, passed resolutions last month declaring their support for the creation of a level II pediatric trauma care unit in the county.
Utah County Commissioner Bill Lee, who proposed the county’s resolution, is excited to see that idea become a reality.
“It is a life-changing event,” Lee said. “I am so pleased to see that we are reaching out for this and giving this kind of strength and care to our children and allowing it to come further south as a satellite facility.”
Lee said it’s needed in Utah County, which he called the center of the state for children.
About 9.5% of the Utah County population is under the age of 5 and 33.4% are under the age of 18, according to 2019 population estimates from the United States Census Bureau.
“It is time,” Lee said. “It is needed and necessary, and I would like to see it continue and be even stronger and better in the future.”