January 03, 2020

Celebrating a Century of Caring

CHIP signing CHIP signing

Utah Hospital Association turns 100 years old in 2020

It All Started in 1920

The Utah Hospital Association has been a highly respected trade organization since the day it was founded--April 22, 1920. A handful of hospital administrators met at the hospital of the Sisters of the Holy Cross in Salt Lake City on this date to organize a state hospital association. 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 was voted in as UHA’s first chair.

On December 20 of that year, UHA’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.

Early Years of UHA

Association leadership remained voluntary, rotating each year following elections until the Association could afford a full-time, paid director. John R. Walker, an insurance executive, served a number of years as one of those volunteers and then was hired in 1957 to become the first full-time staff director. In 1964, the Association moved its offices out of the Blue Cross Blue Shield building in Salt Lake City. Walker served UHA as executive director until 1978 when he accepted a position with the American Federation of Health Systems in Little Rock, Arkansas.

The Association Board next sought someone with extensive legislative and policy experience. Richard B. Kinnersley, then Executive Director of the Utah Public Employees Association, was hired. Kinnersley amplified the Association’s visibility, power and programs for the next eight years.

The Association then moved into new quarters at Trolley Corners in Salt Lake City. UHA’s  programs were enhanced by more formal councils, committees and task forces on critical issues. Kinnersley made a short career change for three years at the University of Utah Health Sciences Center but returned to the Association in 1989. Two interim executives, Eugene Beck and Kenneth Rock, served as President/CEO during those years. At this time, the Association was located in the Ambassador Building on First South and Fifth East in Salt Lake City.

The 1990s: A Time of Change

In the early 1990s UHA went through a period of reorganization as the healthcare landscape changed significantly on both a local and national level. In 1995 the Association officially changed its name to the Utah Association of Healthcare Providers (UAHP) to better reflect reform efforts and the consolidation anticipated to occur in the healthcare sector. The following year, UHA changed its governance structure, eliminating the House of Delegates and expanding the Board and Executive Committee’s size and scope. In 1996, the Association moved to its current location in the Parkway Plaza building in Salt Lake’s Sugar House district at 2180 S. 1300 East.

In 1998, the Association decided to change its name to UHA, Utah Hospitals & Health Systems Association to better reflect its core membership and improve name recognition. However, after nearly 13 years under this moniker, Association leadership determined it was time to officially return to its original name--Utah Hospital Association. Today, UHA continues to be known simply as the “Hospital Association” to healthcare and legislative leaders around the state.

Leadership Changes at UHA

The dawn of a new millenium led to leadership changes at UHA as long-time President/CEO Rick Kinnersley retired from the Association in 2003. Joseph Krella, a hospital association executive from Dayton, Ohio was hired as his replacement. Krella left the Association in 2010 and interim leadership from local healthcare leader G. Kirk Olsen took place for several months until Rod Betit, UHA’s new President/CEO, was hired. Betit led the Association for three years, retiring from UHA in October 2013. Former Lt. Governor Greg Bell took the reins from Betit following his retirement and continues to serve as UHA’s President/CEO today.

Members Make the Association

Currently the Association consists of 63 institutional members—55 of which are acute care/specialty hospitals. Utah hospitals employ 47,000 Utahns and annually care for approximately 239,000 inpatients and 8.4 million outpatients. The Association has eight full-time staff members and two part-time consultants.

Despite the dramatic changes that have occurred in healthcare since its founding in 2020, UHA’s core role remains the same—to be the respected collective voice for Utah’s hospitals, providing networking and collaborative opportunities for all hospitals to work together, making Utah an even greater place to call home.

(Source: Excerpts from March 10, 1995 Utah Hospital Association Briefing on UHA’s 75th anniversary, Ronald L. Bouck, Editor)