Utah’s Intermountain Primary Children’s Hospital celebrates 100 years of treating kids

Jul 1, 2022, 5:15 PM | Updated: 10:26 pm

SALT LAKE CITY — Intermountain Primary Children’s Hospital is used to celebrating kids’ birthdays, but this year the staff there is saying ‘happy birthday’ to the hospital itself.

In 1922 the Primary Association opened the first Primary Children’s Hospital at 40 W. North Temple, across from Temple Square in Salt Lake City. It mainly served children with orthopedic and chronic diseases who needed convalescent care.

Today the hospital provides more than 60 medical and surgical specialties with more than 800 physicians and 3,000 caregivers. A second hospital campus with 66 beds is now under construction in Lehi and is slated to open in 2024.

Nurse and Intermountain Primary Children’s Hospital CEO Katy Welkie said as she celebrates 100 years, she thinks about, not the building, but the people inside.

“What really matters are the caregivers and then the patients and their families, and they are family,” she said. “They become a part of who we are.”

Every year, Intermountain Primary Children’s Hospital serves about 100,000 patients, such as Harrison O’Toole of Layton.

When he was five, Harrison was diagnosed with Atypical Kawasaki Disease. It causes inflammation of some blood vessels and damaged Harrison’s heart.

“He had multiple heart attacks,” his mom, Gina O’Toole said. “After his fourth heart attack, he was in heart failure. And at that point, he needed a transplant.”

After waiting in the hospital for two months, Harrison received a new heart.

“(Primary Children’s is) amazing, it’s the best in the world,” Gina said. “We are so grateful that we live close to a place like this.”

Harrison, now 12, enjoys playing soccer, basketball, football, and pickleball.

“I can like run around and play with friends and play sports,” he said.

At the mention of Harrison’s name, Welkie smiled.

“I’m a nurse, and I came here because I love taking care of kids and seeing children after they’ve been here, and seeing them well and participate in life is probably the very best gift you can give any caregiver at the hospital,” she explained.

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Utah’s Intermountain Primary Children’s Hospital celebrates 100 years of treating kids