The University of Utah Hospital has received a $495,000 grant to create and implement a plan to improve patient care, the university said Monday.

The grant is part of a nationwide $26.8 million initiative by two of the country's largest private foundations, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and The Pew Charitable Trusts.The initial grant will support the first two years of a five-year effort, university spokeswoman Susan Beck said. After that, the university would be eligible for $500,000 more to implement the plan over a three-year period.

"It's not unusual for academic departments of the university, particularly in the health sciences, to be awarded research and implementation grants," Beck said. "But this is a first for University Hospital, where our role normally is seen as providing a service-patient care."

The first stage of the program will be to restructure patient care by forming multispecialty service teams to coordinate patient care across boundaries that have frequently led to fragmentation of services, said Beck.