History of Healthcare in Utah

Since 1920 UHA has dedicated itself to representing Utah’s hospital community, providing a forum for advocacy, collaboration and learning. UHA celebrates all those that have helped create a thriving healthcare system here in Utah for more than 100 years.

UHA original officers copy 2The Utah State Hospital Association was founded by 12 hospital superintendents,  nurses and physicians meeting at the Hospital of the Sisters of Holy Cross in Salt Lake City.  Its purposes then were to “encourage, promote and secure the adoption of uniform standards and methods for the efficient operation and maintenance of hospitals…to encourage the discussion of all hospital problems, and to encourage cordial relations among the members of the Association.”  W.W. Rawson of Dee Memorial Hospital in Ogden is voted in as UHA’s first chair.

— Rawson Heads Hospital Body, Ogden Standard Examiner, 24 April 1920, pg. 8

April 22, 1920

UHA BylawsUHA’s original bylaws were finalized and signed by representatives of six founding hospitals: Thomas Dee Memorial Hospital, Holy Cross Hospital, LDS Hospital, Provo Hospital, St. Mark’s Hospital and Utah/Idaho Hospital. Members agreed to pay an annual fee of $20-$50 per facility, to meet quarterly and to hold an annual convention.

December 1920

Timeline Panorama SLCA typhoid epidemic hits Salt Lake City, with 188 cases treated and 13 deaths attributed to the breakout. The hunt for the cause quickly led to a woman clerk in a delicatessen store. Ill for two weeks with mild ‘walking’ typhoid, she continued to handle food. The typhoid epidemic followed in about three weeks. Eight nurses working in typhoid wards in one Salt Lake City hospital died of the malady.

Photo used by permission, Utah State Historical Society


Timeline UofU Medical School Shot 1

After 36 years as a two-year medical program, the University of Utah graduated the first class of its four-year program. Four women were among the 35 graduates.

Photo used by permission, Utah State Historical Society

September 1944

Allen Mem

The Hospital and Construction Act (Hill-Burton Act) is passed to support construction of hospitals and related healthcare facilities. Aided by this Congressional action, between 1946 and 1973 the U.S. spent more than $12 billion on hospital construction and nearly doubled hospital bed capacity nationwide. Moab Regional Hospital was one of several hospitals in Utah benefitting from the program, receiving 45 percent of needed construction monies for its predecessor, Allen Memorial Hospital, from Hill-Burton funds in 1955.


Timeline Polio Shots Shot 1

UHA and the Utah State Nurses Association joined in an effort to recruit more than 350 students to begin training at one of Utah’s seven schools of nursing in the fall. The campaign, centering around the slogan “Nursing, the Career You are Seeking” encouraged young women to consider nursing careers, filling available slots in the nursing schools in hopes of lessening the nursing shortages being felt in Utah’s hospitals.

Photo used by permission, Utah State Historical Society

June 1948

Timeline Polio Shots Shot 1

Jonas Salk develops the first polio vaccine. First, second and third graders in Weber County and surrounding areas participated in Salk vaccine trials in 1954 and were among the first schoolchildren in the country to be immunized. Following the vaccine being made available in 1955, polio cases dropped nationwide by approximately 85 percent.

Photo used by permission, Utah State Historical Society


John Walker2John R. Walker, an insurance executive, is hired as UHA’s first paid, full-time staff director. Walker served in this capacity until 1978.


Goates L Brent Timeline

Members of the Utah Hospital Association met and voted to incorporate as a non-profit corporation. L. Brent Goates, representing LDS Hospital in Salt Lake City, was voted in as President and Trustee. Other officers and trustees included Olive V. Wardrop, St. Mark’s Hospital, Immediate Past President and Trustee; Sister Mary Margaret, St. Benedict’s Hospital, President Elect and Trustee; Reed L. Clegg, Veteran’s Administration Hospital, Treasurer and Trustee; Arthur E. Miller, Salt Lake County General Hospital, Trustee; Ralph J. Nelson, Tooele Valley Hospital, Trustee and Maude Humphries, American Fork Hospital, Trustee.

Photo used by permission, Utah State Historical Society


October 22, 1959

Timeline Medicare

On July 30, 1965, President Lyndon B. Johnson signed into law the bill that led to the establishment of the Medicare and Medicaid programs. The original Medicare program included Part A (Hospital Insurance) and Part B (Medical Insurance). Today these two parts are called “Original Medicare.”

— Photo courtesy of Lyndon Baines Johnson Presidential Library


Scott ParkerIntermountain Healthcare is created when The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints donates its 15 hospitals to the public. Hospitals included in the original system were Bear River Valley Hospital, Cassia Memorial Hospital (ID), Cottonwood Hospital, Fillmore Hospital, Fremont General Hospital (ID), Garfield Memorial Hospital, Idaho Fall Hospital (ID), LDS Hospital, Logan Hospital, McKay-Dee Hospital, Primary Children’s Hospital, Sanpete Valley Hospital, Sevier Valley Hospital, Star Valley Hospital, Utah Valley Hospital. Scott S. Parker was named President/CEO of the newly created system and served in this capacity for 23 years.


UMAP in Crisis Cropped

The Utah Medical Assistance Program (UMAP) is established to help counties care for their indigent population. UMAP is replaced by the Primary Care Network (PCN) in 2002.

The Daily Spectrum, 25 Nov 2000, pg. 6


AIDSThe first cases of HIV/AIDS are reported in the U.S. in June. By year’s end there are 337 reported cases of individuals with severe immune deficiency in the U.S, of which 130 are dead by December 31.


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University of Utah cardiothoracic surgeon William DeVries, MD., places the world’s first permanent artificial heart—the Jarvik-7, in patient Barney Clark on December 2nd. This aluminum and polyurethane device (named after inventor Robert Jarvik, M.D.) was connected to a 400-pound air compressor that would accompany Clark for the rest of his life—all 112 days of it.

Read more here

Photo courtesy of the Spencer S. Eccles Health Sciences Library, University of Utah



The federal government implements a Prospective Pricing Payment System (DRGs) for Medicare beneficiaries, dramatically changing the way hospital services are delivered.

Utah State Legislature sunsets Certificate of Need. Following this, new providers entered the market, primarily focused on substance abuse, psych and rehab services.


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University Hospital performs Utah’s first heart transplant on 16-year-old patient Tony Shepard. Since the surgery, University Hospital has performed more than 1062 successful heart transplants. Nearly 30 years later, Shepard continues to enjoy the gift of life.

 Photo courtesy of Jake Putnam


EMTALA AmbulanceEMTALA, the Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act (EMTALA) is passed. EMTALA requires hospitals with dedicated emergency departments to treat all people regardless of health insurance status or ability to pay.


bill oxford OXGhu60NwxU unsplash

Proposition 1, granting automatic property tax exempt status for Utah’s non-profit hospitals, is defeated. This follows a previous ruling by the Utah Supreme Court requiring a hospital to prove its “charitable” status upon six points to county commissions.


St Benedicts

Holy Cross Hospital, Holy Cross Jordan Valley Hospital and St. Benedict’s Hospital in Ogden are consolidated into Utah’s second largest not-for-profit system, Holy Cross Health Services of Utah.


Mike Leavitt

Governor Michael Leavitt introduces Healthprint, a state reform initiative calling for changes in health insurance as an effort to help the uninsured. The first phase of the plan is implemented in 1994 and includes tort and insurance reforms and expanded coverage for dependents.


Clinton Reform

Following the election of 1992, in which candidate Bill Clinton campaigned heavily on making healthcare affordable to all Americans, the Clinton Administration’s healthcare reform plan is introduced. The plan subsequently fails and is declared dead by Senate Majority Leader George J. Mitchell in September 1994.



HB 204, the Temporary Medicaid Provider Assessment Act, is passed by the Utah State Legislature. The $8.8 million assessment was intended as a short-term effort to provide broader access to services for the Medicaid population.


Utah Indoor Air Act copy

The Utah Indoor Clean Air Act is implemented, making Utah the first state to prohibit smoking in public or privately-owned businesses.

The Daily Spectrum, 8 Jan 1995, pg. 18




Utah Hospital Association officially changed its name to the Utah Association of Healthcare Providers (UAHP) to better reflect the changes in the healthcare industry.



Columbia acquires HealthTrust, Inc. (HTI) hospitals. Legacy Hospital and Holy Cross Hospital are “spun off” from Columbia and sold to Champion Health Care. Legacy Hospital renamed to Salt Lake Regional Medical Center. FTC grants approval of Columbia-TCA acquisition of HealthTrust’s Utah facilities, including the sale of Davis, Pioneer and Jordan Valley Hospitals
— Newsbyte, May 4, 1995


MedRecordsThe Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) is passed. The legislation protects health insurance coverage for workers and their families when they change or lose employment; provides for administrative simplification including electronic data interchange rules and health information privacy rules; provides for a national standard healthcare provider identifier; provides for security and electronic signature standards, and details the protection of privacy of patient health information. 


UHA ParkviewPlaza

Utah Hospital Association moves to its current location at Parkview Plaza in the SugarHouse section of Salt Lake City in October. UHA was previously housed in the Ambassador Building on 500 East in Salt Lake City. 


FHP Groundbreaking

FHP announces a divestiture of all of its hospitals, including the newly build FHP hospital in Salt Lake City. Paracelsus Health Care Corporation purchases the hospital and renames it Paracelsus Health Care Hospital. Paracelsus also acquires Davis Hospital and Pioneer Valley Hospital from Columbia. Paracelsus and Champion merge. Once approved by the FTC, Paracelsus acquired Salt Lake Regional Medical Center and Jordan Valley Hospital. 



UHA changes its governance structure, eliminating the House of Delegates and expanding the Board and Executive Committee’s size and scope.



The Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) is created to give health insurance and preventive care to uninsured American children. One year later, with the passage of H.B. 137, Utah’s Medicaid tax, scheduled to expire in June, continues as a means to financially support the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) in Utah. 

The Balanced Budget Act of 1997 (BBA) passes, calling for $112 billion in Medicare cuts over a five year-period starting in 1998. One year later, The Balanced Budget Refinement Act of 1999 (BBRA) restores and/or reduces some of the funding cuts of the BBA.


UHA Old LogoBW

The UHA Board of Trustees conducted a board self-evaluation in January and created a task force to evaluate the results and recommend changes to the Board’s structure and governance. As a part of this process, the Board voted in May to change the name of the Association from the Utah Association of Healthcare Providers to UHA, Utah Hospitals & Health Systems Association. The name change was implemented to better define the Association’s membership, as well as provide a more memorable acronym—UHA.


Timeline To Err Is Human

To Err is Human: Building a Safer Health System is published by the Institute of Medicine (IOM) in November, stating that at least 44,000 people die in hospitals each year as a result of medical errors that could have been prevented. The report launches a major national effort by hospitals to study and improve patient safety. UHA launches its Patient Safety Workgroups initiative to reduce adverse drug events and sentinel events in Utah’s hospitals.



The Health Care Financing Administration (HCFA) changed its name to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) in June. The agency was split into three divisions: Center for Medicare Management (CMM), the Center for Beneficiary Choices (CBC) and the Center for Medicaid and State Operations (CMSO).



The Medicare Prescription Drug Improvement and Modernization Act of 2003 (MMA) made the biggest changes to the Medicare in the program in 38 years. Under the MMA, private health plans approved by Medicare became known as Medicare Advantage Plans. These plans are sometimes called "Part C" or "MA Plans.” The MMA also expanded Medicare to include an optional prescription drug benefit, “Part D,” which went into effect in 2006.


6 135HTWWMMCapecchiwithNobelPrize

University of Utah molecular geneticist Mario Capecchi, PhD, is a co-winner of the 2007 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for discovering a method to create mice in which a specific gene is turned off, known as knockout mice. He shared the prize with Martin Evans and Oliver Smithies.

Photo courtesy of the Spencer S. Eccles Health Sciences Library, University of Utah



The Affordable Care Act is passed by Congress and established the Health Insurance Marketplace, a single place where consumers can apply for and enroll in private health insurance plans. Avenue H is subsequently formed as the internet portal for Utah’s exchange.



IASIS Healthcare is acquired by Steward Healthcare and takes over operation of five facilities in Utah—Davis Hospital & Medical Center, Jordan Valley Medical Center, Jordan Valley Medical Center-West Valley,  Mountain Point Medical Center and Salt Lake Regional Medical Center. 



slide capitol

Utah State legislature passes a limited expansion of Medicaid to 100% FPL in response to the passing of a referendum on Medicaid expansion in 2018. The State of Utah submits CMS waivers for approval of the elements of the limited expansion which are later denied by the federal government.


Bell Hatch Others

UHA begins its 100th year of representing and advocating for Utah’s hospitals and health systems. In this photo, Senator Orrin Hatch (center) is visited in his Washington office by (left to right) UHA Executive Vice President David Gessel, UHA Board Chair Gregory Poulsen, UHA President/CEO Greg Bell and University of Utah’s Senior Director of Government Healthcare Programs, Michael Hales.


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