New Primary Children’s Hospital location to open in Lehi with $50 million gift

(Erin Alberty | The Salt Lake Tribune) Gail Miller receives a hug from 9-year-old Nellie Mainor after a press conference announcing a gift of $50 million to Primary Children's Hospital from the Miller family on Tuesday, Jan. 21, 2020. Mainor, a patient at Primary Children's Hospital, recently underwent a kidney transplant.

A new Primary Children’s Hospital campus is going up in Lehi, and pediatric services are expanding throughout Intermountain Healthcare with a $50 million gift from Gail Miller and her family.

“I know that, for a young mother, the need is great to have the people caring for your children understand you and what you’re going through, and how hard it is to face that kind of trauma alone,” Miller said in a news conference Tuesday.

In addition to the Lehi campus, the gift will support an advanced fetal care center to provide certain fetal surgical procedures for the first time in Utah; an expanded cancer treatment center; pediatric research; more remote consultations and rural services; more mental and behavioral health services; and an enlarged neonatal intensive care unit.

Miller choked back tears recalling her first visit to Primary Children’s, after her eldest son suffered bleeding on his brain due to a fall when he was 5 months old.

"He had to have two surgeries to remove blood clots from his brain and save his life. I was very ignorant as to the seriousness of what he was dealing with," Miller said, gesturing toward her eldest son, Greg. "I'm grateful today; as you can see, he's a strong, healthy, fulfilled and wonderful contributor to our family, our business and the community."

In recent months, Miller's grandson and great-grandson both were born prematurely and received treatment at Primary Children's NICU.

The upgrades to the neonatal care unit are particularly "near and dear to our hearts," Miller said.

Intermountain Healthcare plans to complete the Lehi hospital by 2023, said spokeswoman Jennifer Toomer Cook. The five-story, 66-bed hospital will offer trauma and emergency services, behavioral health, intensive care and surgical and clinic services.

The new hospital will help manage critical health needs for Utah County’s growing population of children, said Intermountain CEO Marc Harrison. The new hospital, as well as expanded rural and remote services, will help keep families close to home while obtaining treatment for their children.

"We're going to bring care right to people where they need it," Harrison said. "It is an unbelievable burden for families to be away from [their] community."

Altogether, the new services are designed to improve long-term health outcomes for children, addressing immediate treatment needs and providing support for them to cope when they are older.

"We need a model that creates an interconnectedness across the entire continuum of kids' health," said Katy Welkie, Primary Children's CEO.

That includes psychiatric services for children and teens, with new clinic locations, “telehealth” and partnerships with community organizations; transition support for teenagers learning to manage chronic conditions like diabetes and cystic fibrosis as they become adults; and support for Utah schools and community groups to intervene when children are experiencing trauma that could imperil their health in the future, Welkie said.

“It doesn’t just mean they’ll be healthier. It means they’ll graduate from high school. It means they’ll stay out of jail,” said Utah Lt. Gov. Spencer Cox, who appeared at the conference. “That’s what we’re talking about. It’s not just about health care; it’s about life care.”