Tom Smart, Deseret News
Primary Children's Medical Center just moved closer to tens of thousands of Utahns, whose children can now get specialized treatment at Intermountain Healthcare's new Riverton Hospital.
Community leaders joined hospital officials and stakeholders on Wednesday for a ribbon-cutting ceremony at the new 58-bed, 400,000-square-foot facility, scheduled to open for business on Nov. 2 after a public open house Friday and Saturday from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.
The $162 million facility incorporates a three-story satellite facility for Primary Children's patients, the first of its kind to extend the hospital's reach beyond the University of Utah campus.
About one-third of the families who use Primary Children's services live in the southwest quadrant of the Salt Lake Valley, and nearly 45 percent of the population there is 18 years or younger, according to Justin Pallari, the hospital's assistant administrator.
The three-story children's facility was decorated with small patients in mind, featuring an "under the sea" mural and feel on the ground floor, with a "land" theme on the second floor and "the sky" on the third level. Outpatient surgical care will be available at the hospital, as will many of the other services residents have previously driven about an hour to access.
The Riverton facility is an acute-care hospital and features a new birthing center that will assist in an estimated 2,000 deliveries per year, as well as emergency services, urology, orthopedics, general surgery, a pharmacy and imaging technology.
Intermountain Healthcare has long envisioned a hospital in the area, said Douglas Black, chair of Intermountain's urban central region board of trustees. "The hospital we designed 10 years ago has changed significantly," he said, as explosive growth has highlighted the need for care that focuses on both children and families.
As Intermountain leaders began formulating plans for the new hospital a decade ago, Black said they found that Primary Children's officials were also looking to develop a "southwest strategy," and the two entities began talking about how they could share costs, resources and facilities.
That collaboration makes the new complex "unique in the (Intermountain Healthcare) system" and part of the nonprofit's "integrated health-care delivery system," that has garnered national attention for its ability to deliver quality care while containing cost, said Intermountain's chief executive officer, Dr. Charles Sorensen.
"While it's nice to be recognized by the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal and even President (Barack) Obama, it's even better to be recognized" for quality care "among those we serve," he said.
It feels "more important to me to be recognized by people here in our local community," Sorensen said, noting he is often stopped in public by people who know him, and he is asked to thank particular medical staff for "how much of a difference they made" for local families and patients.
In addition to the hospital and Primary Children's satellite, the complex also houses doctors and clinics from Intermountain Medical Group on site. Doctors have been operating out of trailers on the site for several weeks in anticipation of the hospital's opening.
Officials have been acquiring property for the 60-acre site since 1995 and broke ground in April 2007. The hospital is a "welcome addition" in the area, not only among Riverton residents, but for all those who will use it, according to Riverton Mayor Bill Applegarth.
Not only does it bring 700 new jobs to the area, but it "improves lives and makes people more comfortable," he said.
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