Established: January 22, 1925
Shriners Children's Salt Lake City opened its doors on January 22, 1925. To meet the immediate need for specialty orthopedic care in the Intermountain West, Shriners International leased 20 beds from St. Mark’s Hospital. This mobile unit provided treatment for children with a wide range of musculoskeletal conditions for more than two decades.
Demand for services continued to increase and Shriners Children's and Shriners International leaders authorized construction of a new hospital in 1945. An alternative site in Amarillo, Texas, was strongly considered before the property was obtained in 1946 through an act of Congress. President Harry S. Truman, a member of Shriners International himself, signed the document deeding approximately seven acres of land from the Fort Douglas military reservation to Shriners Children's and Shriners International. The new 40-bed hospital opened in 1951. The hospital contained two large wards – one for boys and one for girls – as well as a kitchen, school room, therapy rooms, a sun room, surgical facilities, living quarters for nurses and even an apartment on the top floor where the hospital administrator lived.
Transitioning to a New Building
By the 1980s, the building was no longer considered adequate. Shriners Children's and Shriners International leadership considered three options: moving to the campus of the nearby University of Utah, enlarging the current facility, or replacing it with a new hospital. Each option presented its challenges. The original land deed stated that upon vacating the property, ownership would revert to Salt Lake City. Utah Senator Jake Garn pushed a bill through Congress amending the terms of the original land deed, allowing Shriners Children's and Shriners International to sell the property and use the profits to construct a new building. Ultimately, leadership elected to demolish the 1951 hospital and constructed a new, $33 million hospital to the east of the old building. The facility opened debt-free in the fall of 1995. The state-of-the-art hospital included 22 semi-private patient rooms, an in-house prosthetics and orthotics lab, a hydrotherapy pool and therapy gym, a motion analysis center, a 3,000-square-foot indoor play area, three operating rooms and four apartments for patient families.
The Salt Lake City location has undergone subsequent improvements and renovations to accommodate the needs of the children, including transitioning to an outpatient facility in 2021. While the location and look of Shriners Children’s Salt Lake City has changed over the last 90 years, the commitment to caring for children has remained the same.
- 1925: Opening of Shriners Children's wing at St. Mark's hospital.
- 1951: Shriners Children's Salt Lake City hospital is built.
- 1957: World-renowned orthopedic surgeon Sherman S. Coleman, M.D., is made chief of staff.
- 1959: Innovative procedures/research in Salt Lake City brings bone bridging surgery to the orthopedic community and spreads throughout the U.S.
- 1995: New Shriners Children's Salt Lake City hospital opens.
- 1995: Motion analysis center opens, one of only a few in the country.
- 1997: Jacques D'Astous, M.D., brings mehta casting and halo traction in scoliosis care to Salt Lake City.
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