Holy Cross Hospital Friday unveiled a $10 million modernization project, which officials say will cement the hospital's position in Utah's increasingly competitive health-care system.

Holy Cross has a rich history, "but historic buildings aren't always compatible with modern medicine," hospital president Kenneth H. Rock told community, church and political leaders attending the hospital's dedication ceremony.The new project, he said, is a significant commitment by Holy Cross to continue its mission of compassionate health care to the people of the Wasatch Front.

"It's witness to our competitors that Holy Cross is here to stay and is going to do it in the right way," Rock said.

During the past two years the hospital's aging west wing, built in 1907, has been replaced by a contemporary three-story addition. In it is housed a new maternity center, physical and occupational-therapy facilities, short-stay surgery and emergency-service departments.

The building project also provides convenient access to the hospital's new front entrance off South Temple. Patients and visitors can park in a four-tier parking terrace with direct access to the new front lobby, or drive directly to the emergency, outpatient or lobby entrances.

The hospital's historic chapel, built in 1903, is located on the immediate west side of the new facility. Visitors can enter the chapel from outside or through a special entrance on the mezzanine above the new lobby.

The building modernization was begun in the fall of 1986 with money raised in a $10 million capital campaign, headed by former Gov. Scott Matheson and his wife, Norma.

"I'm envious that Gov. Matheson got applause for raising money - something most governors don't get," Gov. Norm Bangerter quipped at the dedicatory ceremonies.

Turning to a more serious subject, the governor said Holy Cross symbolizes "the tenderness all of us need sometimes in our lives."

He challenged the audience of dignitaries to be like the Sisters of the Holy Cross to be builders - "builders of buildings, people and opportunities." Holy Cross, he said, has met the challenge of moving with the times, without diminishing its commitment.

Moving with the times is no easy task for any hospital, said Dr. Dennis D. Taggart, president of the hospital's medical staff. Occupancy problems are chronic, medicine is changing rapidly, and patients admitted are more critically ill, yet are released from hospitals earlier. Costs and other factors have caused shifts to short-stay facilities.

"The new facility will position Holy Cross very well to meet the challenges of the '90s," he said.

Joseph C. Bennett, chairman of the hospital's board, concurred that the auspicious occasion was evidence that a not-for-profit hospital can not only survive in a competitive market, but emerge as a viable institution.

Salt Lake Mayor Palmer DePaulis added his praise to the Congregation of Sisters of the Holy Cross, which owns and operates Holy Cross Health Systems, a nationwide system of health-care facilities.

The sisters, he said, have led the charge in the care of people who have no means of caring for themselves, "yet have a need for health care, friendship, wholeness."

On the hospital's new plaza is a garden donated by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. There's also a fountain, donated by philanthropist O.C. Tanner.

"I couldn't help but notice that the fountain looks like a Catholic baptismal, not a Mormon one," said the Most Rev. William K. Weigand, bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Salt Lake City, who officially dedicated and blessed the new facility. "Holy Cross is clearly a Catholic institution, but serves the broad community, as evidence of the successful fund-raising drive" that made the modernization project a reality.

Money for the project came from several sources: hospital reserves, $500,000; hospital foundation funds, $1.5 million; revenue bonds, $5 million; capital campaign, $3,630,000.

A successful capital campaign, the speakers agreed, provided a dramatic demonstration of community support for a hospital whose goal has been to "create the best possible physical setting for excellent specialty services while preserving the tradition of compassionate care."