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News Release

Primary Children’s Hospital in Utah Celebrates 100 Years

Primary general president reflects on Church’s ties to its history

Primary Children’s Hospital is celebrating its 100th anniversary in Salt Lake City. About 250 people from Intermountain Healthcare, Primary Children’s, Utah Health, community health organizations, civic leaders and media gathered on Wednesday, May 11, 2022, at the hospital’s Eccles Outpatient Building to mark the milestone.

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“I feel it a genuine pleasure to stand before you today on the shoulders of women and men who looked directly into the eyes of children, not over their heads, but who looked directly into the eyes of the children to assess their needs and to address them,” said Primary General President Camille N. Johnson of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, who spoke at the celebration.

In 1911, one of those women who recognized the needs of sick children was the Church’s first Primary general president.

“Louie B. Felt, my predecessor and the first president of the Primary organization, conceived the idea of providing a room for children at a local hospital. … And the Primary organization immediately began efforts to fundraise and have the necessary operating funds for those convalescing rooms,” said President Johnson.

Over a decade later, the hospital needed a larger space to care for sick children. Primary Children’s Hospital was founded on May 11, 1922, when the Church of Jesus Christ opened a 35-bed pediatric care facility in the Orson Hyde home at 40 West North Temple, across from Salt Lake City’s Temple Square.

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Primary Children’s Hospital was founded on May 11, 1922. The Church of Jesus Christ opened a 35-bed pediatric care facility at 40 West North Temple, across from Salt Lake City’s Temple Square. 2022 by Intellectual Reserve, Inc. All rights reserved.
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“In 1922 — one hundred years ago — President Heber J. Grant of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, dedicated the LDS Children’s Convalescent Hospital, across the street from Temple Square,” said the Primary leader, who oversees the Church’s children worldwide. “The Church donated the building and equipment, and the Primary paid for the expenses of caring for patients and of hospital administration.”

The Church’s Primary children helped raise money for the hospital by donating pennies.

“The Primary, under Louie’s direction, initiated the ‘Penny Parade,’ which called for Primary children around the world to donate a penny for every year of their age. Pennies were to be earned, saved and donated to teach hard work, thrift, kindness and love,” she explained.

Over the past century, the fundraising efforts by the Primary have been known as the “Penny Parade,” “Birthday Pennies” and “Pennies by the Inch.”

President Johnson recalled donating pennies herself as a youth. “While I don’t remember how I earned my pennies, I still remember the sense of satisfaction I felt in helping other children.”

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By 1952, Primary Children’s Hospital had outgrown its building on North Temple and relocated to a red brick building on 12th Avenue in Salt Lake City’s Avenues neighborhood, northeast of the downtown. 2022 by Intellectual Reserve, Inc. All rights reserved.
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By 1952, Primary Children’s Hospital had outgrown its building on North Temple and relocated to 12th Avenue in Salt Lake City’s Avenues neighborhood, northeast of the downtown.

“The Primary organization paid half the cost of that new hospital,” President Johnson said.

The Church turned the hospital over to a private organization in 1975. Until that time, the Primary general presidency was responsible for the administration and operation of Primary Children’s Hospital.

The hospital, now located in Salt Lake City’s foothills, is considered one of the nation’s foremost children’s hospitals. The not-for-profit facility is affiliated with Intermountain Healthcare and University of Utah Health.

“When you help one child, you help an entire community that has rallied around their neighbor, their friend and family,” said Katy Welkie, chief executive officer of Primary Children’s Hospital and vice president of Intermountain Children’s Health.

“We are the only major children’s hospital in 400,000 square miles,” said Dustin Lipson, administrator of Primary Children’s hospital. “For over 100 years, this community has lifted us up and with the support we feel, I know the future is brighter than ever.”

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Primary-Children's-Hospital
Keynote speaker Nellie Mainor and her mother Sarah share a smile while delivering their joint address in the Primary Children's Eccles Outpatient Services Building in Salt Lake City, Utah, on Wednesday, May 11, 2022.2022 by Intellectual Reserve, Inc. All rights reserved.
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“Here in August of 2019, I was blessed to receive a new kidney, and I am still going strong,” said Nellie Mainor, who was diagnosed with kidney disease seven years ago when she was 6 years old.

“This amazing family has inspired me to want to be a nurse or a doctor when I grow up. I want to be a part of Primary Children’s Hospital, even after I grow up,” she said.

President Johnson said one of her sons received a “simple surgery” at the hospital when he was a boy. “They wheeled him off to the operating room in a little red wagon, and he had a huge smile on his face. He has every confidence in the medical professionals who were going to care for him, and so did I because we had been nurtured.”

“Teaching our children to love and care for their neighbor has always been a foundational element of a child’s Primary experience,” concluded President Johnson. “When we give children an opportunity to serve others, we build communities of peace and hope and caring.”

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Primary-Children's-Hospital
Primary Children's Hospital staff and guests enjoy refreshments in the Eccles Outpatient Services Building in Salt Lake City, Utah, on Wednesday, May 11, 2022.2022 by Intellectual Reserve, Inc. All rights reserved.
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“I hope over the next 100 years that all those affiliated with Primary Children’s Hospital remember ‘the Child is First and Always,’” Welkie said.

The second Primary Children’s Hospital is scheduled to open in Lehi, Utah, in 2024.

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