Twenty-five years ago this week, the University Hospital opened its doors to usher in a new era in the state's health care and medical science. That it was able to so do is a tribute to dreamers and planners who turned what once seemed like a fantasy into solid reality.
After a quarter of a century, in which the hospital and associated facilities of the U. Health Sciences Center have made an international reputation for themselves, it is only fitting that those who made it possible be remembered and honored.Like all hospitals, the university facility struggles with soaring costs of day-to-day operations. In the University Hospital's case, those demands are intensified because it is a teaching institution. Patient care is only part of the its mission; research and the training of new doctors are the other roles.
So far, the hospital has met those challenges superbly. The list of accomplishments is impressive by any standard and includes such things as pioneering the use of lasers in surgical procedures, the implanting of artificial organs and rising to prominence in heart transplants. The hospital's reputation is international in scope.
Given the lack of finances, the emergence of such a facility in 1965 had to reflect considerable sacrifice and ingenuity. The Utah Legislature offered to back a $10 million hospital if the university would raise $6 million of it. That was hardly enough for such a facility, but it was still a daunting task to raise even that amount.
Gifts came from many quarters. Local physicians contributed heavily to the project. Somehow, the seven-story building with 220 beds and an annual operating budget of $4 million opened its doors. Since then, there has been a $65 million expansion and the addition of other buildings in the same complex, including the colleges of health, nursing and pharmacy, the Primary Children's Medical Center, and a variety of other structures.
The University Hospital, its far-sighted founders and all those who have helped to make it an outstanding institution are to be congratulated. For people in Salt Lake City, the rest of Utah and even in surrounding states, the existence of the hospital has meant not only better health care but often the difference between life and death.
It is an institution of which all Utahns can be proud. May the next 25 years be as fulfilling and as rich in accomplishment and tradition.