Intermountain Medical Center celebrates 5 years with its first-ever patients
Ben Brewer, Deseret News
MURRAY — Miracles happen every day at Intermountain Medical Center — at least that's been the case in its first five years of operation, according to hospital administrator David Grauer.
"From the time that our first patients arrived, we were keenly aware of the significance of what we were doing," he said, adding that the hospital has since served more than 3 million patients in its 1,825 days of operation.
The very first patients, a set of triplets born prematurely at LDS Hospital on Oct. 19, 2007, were dropped off via helicopter early on opening day — Oct. 29, 2007. There would be more room at the new facility and the babies needed additional support for some much needed growth.
At just over 3 pounds, Natalia, Connor and Janessa Nagel had already changed the lives of their parents and would soon unknowingly leave an imprint on excited hospital staff that would continue to be felt half a decade later.
"We were all in tears as they arrived," Grauer recalled Monday during an anniversary celebration at the hospital. "I consider them celebrities now."
The now 5-year-olds were all smiles Monday, largely unaware of the wonder that they have become.
"We have been really lucky. They are all healthy," said Jodi Nagel, mother of the triplets and three older children. "It was supposed to be our last pregnancy. We were hoping for a girl because we had three boys."
Life since that day, she said, has been "very busy."
The new hospital also helped to give Kristin Torres, of Roosevelt, a new lease on life. She was the hospital's first liver transplant patient and has since given birth to a daughter, Liberty, who is 6 months old. Liberty, consequently, is the hospital's first baby born to a liver transplant patient.
"Everything happens for a reason," she said. "I've seen a miracle happen twice now. I'm just waiting for a third."
Torres is now awaiting a second liver, as an autoimmune disease threatens her liver any time she is sick.
"I'm not scared to live," she said. "I'm here to live for both of us, the donor and myself."
Other patients that graced the hospital in its first days of operation include the first baby delivered there, Selueni Toko. She's one of seven, soon to be eight, kids at home. But her dad, Apollo Toko, said Selueni is special because of all the attention she received at the hospital on Oct. 29 five years ago.
Kristie Bullock said the staff at the hospital helped to calm her nerves going into its first kidney and pancreas transplant surgery. She still drives from Tooele to Murray for routine office visits and to refill prescription medications.
Theirs are just a few of the stories told in the halls of the sprawling medical center.
Nonprofit Intermountain Healthcare concocted the idea to build the new hospital in the geographical center of the valley in 1997, and after 10 years of planning, design and construction phases, Grauer said a variety of services for patients now lies within its 1.5-million square-foot footprint.
An aged and landlocked LDS Hospital, located in the Avenues of Salt Lake City, was morphed into a full community hospital as the population growth continued in the south of the valley, and the old Cottonwood Hospital was subsequently razed.
While the hospital now runs at full capacity on a daily basis, there remains one empty floor and room to grow outside, Grauer said.
"Our goal is to meet the needs of the community long-term," he said.
In addition to the nearly 3.2 million patients served, the army-sized staff at the hospital has performed more than 116,000 inpatient and outpatient surgeries, delivered about 27,000 babies and provided nearly $300 million in charity care.
Grauer remembers opening day as a culmination of years of work, but a poignant reminder of what the hospital exists to accomplish.
"It's easy to get lost in the numbers and to focus on the numbers, but there is really much more to this facility," he said. "It's about the small miracles, it's about the ability and the opportunity to provide care for people in their time of need. It's those times that we consider to be our greatest accomplishments."
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