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Hospital history

Learn about our history and how we've expanded our services and capabilities so we can continue serving our community.

Our hospital history

The History of St. Mark's Hospital

In 1872, Salt Lake City was on the cusp of a new era. The transcontinental railroad's completion just a few years earlier was beginning to bring more people to what was then the Utah territory, still nearly a quarter century from statehood. What had for many years been a small pioneer settlement was suddenly booming with miners, rail workers, and others who had ventured west into what the Mormon pioneers called “our lovely Deseret.”

With the abrupt growth came an increased need for medical care in the area. There were only three physicians serving the tens of thousands of people living in Utah and no hospitals anywhere in the Intermountain West. Thanks to the Right Reverend Daniel Tuttle, the bishop of St. Mark’s Episcopal Church, that would soon change.

Bishop Tuttle had moved to Utah with his wife and two sons in 1869 and credits Major Wilkes, a vestryman at the church and a manager at a nearby mine, with having “first presented to his friends and others the urgent need of a hospital where the sick and maimed might be cared for.”

With the help of his assistant minister, Reverend R.M. Kirby, and Dr. John F. Hamilton from the U.S. Army’s Camp Douglas, Bishop Tuttle began raising funds for the first hospital in the region. The three men secured contributions from large mining companies, sold subscriptions to mine workers, and held charity balls. Bishop Tuttle also generously gave to the project, and Wilkes and local businessman Warren Hussey provided interest-free loans.

Before long, the group had rented and repaired an adobe house at 500 East and 400 South in Salt Lake City, and Reverend Kirby “(got) the house ready for the reception of patients.” The first patients were admitted to the 6-bed hospital on April 30, 1872.

Reverend Kirby served as the hospital’s first superintendent, Dr. Hamilton was the chief medical director, and Bishop Tuttle served on the board of trustees.

The 6-bed hospital often had as many as 20 patients per day, and a move one block north to 300 South in 1879 allowed St. Mark’s to double its capacity. However, it soon became clear that a much larger expansion would be necessary to meet the growing need for medical care. In 1890, the hospital’s board approved the purchase of property at 200 West and 700 North for $5,500. A new brick building was erected on the property, and the new site officially became the home of St. Mark’s Hospital in 1893.

The new location was chosen partly because of its proximity to mineral hot springs that were considered at the time to be “efficacious in the cure of rheumatic, skin, and kindred diseases,” according to an 1887 advertisement. But as the Salt Lake Valley continued to fill up, residential communities popped

up further and further to the south, and by the 1970s, the area around St. Mark’s long-time home had become more industrial, with refineries and railyards. So, in 1973, just after celebrating its 100th birthday, St. Mark’s Hospital moved again.

“I would guess that this place is going to be very active almost immediately,” Dr. Roy McDonald, chief medical officer of the hospital at the time, said in the Utah Medical Bulletin of the new building at 3900 South in present-day Millcreek.

Dr. McDonald was right: the hospital has continued to grow and serve Utahns from its current location in Millcreek. The hospital has seen multiple expansions to meet the community's healthcare needs. A Women’s Pavilion with 48 patient beds and 18 labor and delivery suites was added in 2000. And now, the hospital is adding a new patient tower that will be completed in 2023. This multi-year project will add 125,000 square feet to the hospital and 42,000 square feet of renovated space. Patient rooms will be larger, waiting areas will be more comfortable, and additional clinic and office space will enable our medical team to serve the community in more ways.

“It’s hard to imagine just how many people we have impacted, how many people we’ve cared for, and how many lives are better because of St. Mark’s Hospital,” said Jeremy Bradshaw, the chief executive officer of St. Mark’s Hospital today.

As we look to the next 150 years, we’ll continue to grow our services, embrace healthcare advancements, and demonstrate our commitment to the care and improvement of human life.

Celebrating Many “Utah's First...”

When St. Mark’s Hospital admitted its first patients on April 30, 1872, it became Utah's first hospital, even before the 45th state was officially added to the Union. That’s not all. Over the years, we have celebrated numerous “firsts” by introducing and innovating care options to serve the community better.

  • 1st Private Insurance - Miners and rail workers would pay a flat $1 subscription fee that entitled them to a bed and medical care if they became sick or injured – the first private insurance program in Utah.
  • 1st Nursing School - On April 1, 1894, the Episcopal Diocese that founded the hospital opened the first nursing school in the Mountain West. Miss Mary Edith Newitt, 23, was its first superintendent.
  • 1st Ambulance Service - A horse-drawn ambulance began transporting patients to St. Mark's Hospital in 1895, making it Utah's first ambulance service.
  • 1st Maternal & Children's Ward - In 1900, St. Mark's opened the state's first hospital unit dedicated to caring for mothers and children.
  • 1st X-Ray Machine - In 1902, Dr. Augustus Behle brought to St. Mark's Utah's first x-ray machine. Dr. Behle is thought to be Utah's first neurosurgeon and helped modernize techniques and equipment in the operating room.
  • 1st Hospital Volunteer Program - Started in 1955, the St. Mark's volunteer program was the state's first. Today, nearly 150 volunteers help improve patients' visits to the facility.
  • 1st Stroke Prevention Implant - In 2020, the hospital became the first in Utah (and the third in the U.S.) to perform a brand-new implant designed to reduce the risk of a specific type of stroke in the heart.
  • 1st Colorectal Cancer Program - After a century and a half, we're still advancing care in the state. In December 2021, St. Mark's Hospital earned Utah's first and only colorectal cancer accreditation.

A Place of Healing – St. Mark’s Hospital’s locations through the years

A hospital is so much more than a building. Multiple physical structures have been the home to the caring spirit and dedicated professionals that truly define St. Mark's Hospital.

500 East and 400 South - St. Mark's Hospital's first physical location was in a rented adobe house at 500 East and 400 South. The first structure could only accommodate six beds, and sick and injured miners would often sleep on the floor. So before long, it was clear that the need for medical care was growing, and the church purchased a property one block to the south that would double the capacity to 12 patient beds.

200 West and 700 North - Then, in 1890, the hospital's board approved the purchase of a property at 200 West and 700 North for $5,500. A new brick structure was erected on the property, and the new site served as St. Mark's home for 80 years. An addition was made to the south after the turn of the century, and new wings were added in the 1940s and 1950s.

3900 South and 1100 East - Just after celebrating its 100th birthday, St. Mark’s Hospital was once again ready to grow with the community’s needs. That meant moving yet again, this time to 3900 South and 1100 East in what is now Millcreek, Utah. At the time, that was the far end of the Salt Lake suburbs, but the community around the new hospital would soon blossom as residential communities soon filled the Salt Lake Valley.

Ground was broken on the new construction in 1970. On May 20, 1973, hospital staff and the Utah National Guard prepared to transfer patients to the new facility, with a nurse and a physician accompanying each patient in ambulances departing at 5-minute intervals to make the 11-mile trip across town.

The old hospital saw its last delivery and last surgery that morning when a baby had to be delivered via Caesarean Section – with instruments that had already been moved to the new facility! Someone rushed to 3900 South to retrieve the tools, and the healthy baby entered the world at 7:30 a.m. By 9:58 a.m., the last patient left the old hospital, and the new hospital received its first admission at 10:56 a.m. that sunny Sunday.

The building has been the home of St. Mark’s Hospital ever since, with several additions and improvements to expand on the original triangle-shaped design. Today, St. Mark’s Hospital is a 308-bed facility that continues to grow to meet the needs of its community.

St. Mark’s Hospital Timeline
  • 1847 – Pioneer settlers first enter the Salt Lake Valley
  • 1769 – Transcontinental railroad completed; Bishop Tuttle moves to Utah
  • 1872 – Tuttle, Hussey, Kirby and Hamilton open St. Mark's Hospital
  • 1879 – St. Mark's Hospital is incorporated; the first move, to a property and structure purchased by Reverend Kirby for $4,500
  • 1890 – Purchased property at 200 West and 700 North for $5,500 and began building a new brick structure that would open in 1893
  • 1894 – St. Mark's Hospital establishes the first nursing school in the region
  • 1895 – Horse-drawn ambulance at St. Mark's is Utah's first
  • 1896 - On January 4, Utah becomes the 45th state
  • 1900 – Maternal and children's ward opens; work begins on the first major physical expansion of the 700 North property, an addition to the south
  • 1908 – Typhoid epidemic spikes in Utah
  • 1918 – 45 nurses and 20 physicians depart to serve the military during WWII
  • 1925 – Beg inning January 22, St. Mark's Hospital houses what was then known as the Shriners Crippled Ward for 26 years
  • 1935 – First wedding in the hospital chapel
  • 1444 and 1952 – Additional wings built behind main hospital on 700 North
  • 1946 – Utah's first hospital-based psychiatric ward opens at St. Mark’s
  • 1955 – First hospital volunteer program in Utah launches at St. Mark's
  • 1968 – St. Mark's and Westminster College launch the St. Mark's School of Baccalaureate Nursing
  • 1973 – St. Mark's moves to its current location in present- day Millcreek, Utah
  • 1987 – St. Mark's Hospital becomes a part of HCA Healthcare
  • 2002 – Women's Pavilion opens, with 45 patient beds and 18 delivery suites
  • 2010 – Lone Peak Emergency Department opens as the first freestanding ER in the state
  • 2017 – St. Mark's becomes a Level II Trauma Center
  • 2021 – Construction begins on a new patient tower
  • 2022 – Celebrates 150 years
  • 2023 – New patient tower opens

150 Years of Nursing Excellence

For 150 years, St. Mark's Hospital's nurses have displayed the courage, care, and compassion that is the heartbeat of our hospital. Today, St. Mark's has more than 600 nurses who make a difference each day for our patients, our community, and one another. The award-winning care our team delivers upholds the legacy of nurses who truly shaped the nursing profession in Utah.

The first nursing school in the Mountain West

When St. Mark’s Hospital opened in 1872, its lone physician was assisted by an all-male staff of largely untrained nurses.

“So many of what we called nurses perhaps were just helpers,” said Craig Wirth, the director of communications for the Episcopal Diocese of Utah. “They were not skilled necessarily in the finer points of medicine. St. Mark’s wanted them to be part of the team, to be really qualified.”

But with no formal nursing school in the West, it was hard to find qualified nurses to take the care at St. Mark’s to the next level. “What do you do when you don’t have nurses?” asked Nicki Roderman, chief nursing officer at St. Mark’s. “You start a nursing school.”

Hospital founder Bishop Daniel S. Tuttle traveled to New York in 1893 in search of an educated nurse who could run the region’s first nursing school. He soon met Mary Edith Newitt, a British nurse who had just completed her training at St. Luke’s Training School for Nurses. She accepted the role as the first superintendent of the St. Mark’s nursing school. She would travel to Utah at the        age of 23 to open the school on April 1, 1894.

“St. Mark’s nursing school was started as one of the pioneer attempts in the West to really train nurses as very important parts of the medical team,” Wirth added.

The school and those early nurses truly defined the nursing profession in the rugged West. Miss Newitt taught the “Procedures of Nursing” course until Mrs. Nellie Crossland, St. Mark’s chief nurse in the 1890s and an “outstanding nurse educator” succeeded her as superintendent of the school in 1898. Other courses were taught by physicians in the evenings.

The first group of four graduating nurses completed the 2-year program in 1896, including Miss Newitt’s younger sister, Ethel. By 1912, more than 100 nurses had entered the field via the school.

By the latter half of the 20th century, it made sense to partner with a higher learning institution. By 1948, St. Mark’s nursing students had begun studying at Salt Lake City’s Westminster College, and in 1968, the hospital fully transitioned the program to the college when the two organizations jointly launched the St. Mark’s Hospital School of Baccalaureate Nursing at Westminster College. The hospital and college maintain a strong partnership to this day.

“We have a fantastic relationship with St. Mark’s Hospital,” said Dr. Sheryl Steadman, Dean of Westminster’s School of Nursing and Health Sciences. “They’re very willing and open to provide the education necessary for nursing students to have the very best education. They care about our students.”

“We welcome them to come and learn and see how it really is in the hospital so that they’re prepared when they come out into the nursing workforce,” said Roderman.

St. Mark’s Hospital and its parent company, HCA Healthcare, have multiple other partnerships in place to advance the practice of nursing and train the next generation of caregivers. Here in Utah, we partner with many nursing schools and other higher education institutions. And in 2020, HCA Healthcare purchased a majority stake in Galen College of Nursing, one of the largest educators of nurses in the United States. HCA Healthcare also offers tuition reimbursement, student loan repayment assistance, and reduced tuition at institutions like Galen and Western Governors University.

Through these efforts and partnerships, we’re making quality nursing education more accessible than ever, and giving nurses and clinicians more ways to grow their careers.

Nurse support: Bishop Leonard's legacy

Bishop Abiel Leonard succeeded Bishop Tuttle as the Episcopal bishop in Utah, and was a passionate advocate for the nurses at St. Mark’s Hospital.

Fanny Leonard Koster would later write that her relative, Bishop Leonard, advocated to improve the “provision for the comfort of the nurses.” At that time, around the turn of the 20th century, many of the St. Mark’s Hospital nurses slept and lived in the basement of the hospital. Bishop Leonard had begun to work toward a better living situation for the hospital’s caregivers, but he contracted typhoid fever in late 1903 and passed away before he could bring his plans to fruition.

After his passing, friends from near and far donated funds for a memorial home for St. Mark’s nurses. The house, which could accommodate 35 nurses, opened on May 8, 1907. Koster wrote: “On the first floor are the apartments of the head nurse and night nurse, and the living room, with its dark woodwork, large fireplace, comfortable big chairs, well-filled bookcases, and handsome rugs. The second and third floors have single rooms for the nurses, each with a window seat.”

Supporting our nurses looks different today than it did in 1907, but we still uphold Bishop Leonard’s legacy by caring for our caregivers.

Nurse Care helps nurses with life’s challenges by providing confidential and free support. The colleague-run HCA Healthcare Hope Fund provides emergency funds to our colleagues when significant hardships arise due to illness, injury, natural disasters or other difficult situations that impact their essential needs. And a range of other educational, health & wellness, financial and other benefits help meet our nurses’ needs and goals in the spirit of Bishop Leonard.

Enabling excellence

Throughout its history, St. Mark’s has taken pride in enabling nurses to deliver the best care possible.

That commitment to innovation was evident in 1894 when Miss Newitt arrived in Utah and immediately began modernizing the practices at the hospital, and continues today with care innovations and award-winning nursing technology.

“At St. Mark’s we’re providing some of the most advanced technology, some of the most advanced care that there is, and our nurses learn how to do that,” said Roderman. “They provide patients with excellent care, day in and day out. I’m really proud to be a part of that and make the experience for the patients the best it can be, with the best outcomes.”

Our parent organization, HCA Healthcare, was recognized as a 2021 CIO 100 award winner for “Collaborative Nursing Technology” that improves the experiences for the more than 600 St. Mark’s nurses and the patients they serve. The award recognizes our technologies and IT initiatives that help nurses collaborate on mobile devices, manage workloads, learn virtually and improve care.

Still Caring Like Family

The modern history of St. Mark's Hospital is one of continued growth and service.

The story of St. Mark’s Hospital is still being written today. Even as we continue serving Utahns into the 21st century, we continue on in the legacy of innovation, advancement and caring like family.

In fact, the desire to deliver compassionate care was so strong among hospital colleagues in the early 2000s that the St. Mark’s mission statement was revised: To provide superior healthcare services to our patients as if they were our own family.

“We worked hard to ensure that no one felt like just another patient, just another employee, or just another physician,” said Steve Bateman, chief administrator from 2005 to 2017.

The hospital has taken great strides this century to continue growing with its vibrant community and find more ways to serve patients. In 2002, a new Women’s Pavilion opened with 48 patient beds and 18 delivery suites. The new facility opened a century after St. Mark’s had been home to the state’s first children’s and maternal ward in 1900, and this new state-of-the-art facility would ensure that a new generation of mothers, babies, and families would trust St. Mark’s with those special, life-changing moments. Today, St. Mark’s delivers approximately 2,000 babies each year.

The advancements continued during Steve’s tenure. St. Mark’s

developed a new inpatient rehabilitation center, vascular laboratory, inpatient behavioral health unit, and an intensive outpatient mental health unit. Three freestanding emergency departments opened throughout the Salt Lake Valley, one of which would later become Lone Peak Hospital. A St. Mark’s-operated surgical center opened just a few miles away, and new operating rooms and surgical equipment were added inside the hospital. In 2017, the hospital received official certification as a Level II Trauma Center.

The growth didn’t stop there.

The hospital has since been designated as a Comprehensive Stroke Center, is a leader in robotic surgeries in the region, and recently added Utah’s first and only colorectal cancer accreditation to its long list of services and specialties.

And now, the hospital is adding a new patient tower that will be completed in 2023. This multi-year project will add 125,000 square feet to the hospital and 42,000 square feet of renovated space. Patient rooms will be larger, waiting areas will be more comfortable, and additional clinic and office space will enable our medical team to serve the community in more ways.

“It brings me a great sense of pride to know that we get to care for and help the people in our community every day,” current hospital CEO Jeremy Bradshaw said when construction of the tower began in late 2021 and opened in July of 2023. “This new patient tower emphasizes our commitment to continue to provide that same great care for many years to come.”

Even after a century and a half, St. Mark’s Hospital continues to enhance its care, to pioneer advancements, and to grow with its community's needs.

As we look to the future, we’re mindful of the foundation built over 150 years by our physicians, nurses, colleagues, volunteers, leaders, donors, community partners, and of course, the millions of people who have trusted us to care for them.