by Tom HARALDSEN
LAYTON—When ground was broken for the Intermountain Layton Hospital in April 2016, the weather was cold and rainy, and the event was held “kind of in a revival tent.”
That was the recollection of Layton Mayor Bob Stevenson, who joined with other dignitaries on Tuesday morning for the ribbon cutting of the now completed hospital, the 23rd in the Intermountain Health Care system. It’s located at 201 W. Layton Parkway.
Under much more pleasant and considerably warmer conditions, the mayor joined with Intermountain officials, local donors and a very famous TV personality to celebrate the new hospital. The adjacent clinic is already in operation, and the hospital itself will begin accepting patients on Oct. 15.
“Our slogan for this facility is ‘Neighbors Caring for Neighbors,’” said Judy Williamson, RN and the hospital’s administrator. “It’s truly the way we will offer health care here.”
Using that theme, one of the invited speakers at Tuesday’s ceremony was David Newell, who portrayed Mr. McFeely on “Mr. Rogers Neighborhood” for three decades. He talked about the genesis for the show, which started 50 years ago on station WQED in Pittsburgh.
“Fred Rogers was an up-and-coming TV personality who folks in New York City thought had a bright future ahead of him,” Newell recalled. “It was his idea to create a local children’s program on the station – rather small to start with – because he felt that TV could be used for more than just selling cornflakes. He said that if children felt good about themselves, they’d take care of themselves. That proved to be so very, very true for generations of children who watched Mr. Rogers.”
Newell was famous as the Speedy Delivery guy on Mr. Rogers, wearing a hat with that printed on its bill. He drew laughter when he said, “For all of the mothers coming here to give childbirth at this great facility, I wish them a speedy delivery.”
There was a true neighborhood feel to the ceremony, as speakers included donors Jill Ashmead and Carol Ellison Morgan, both long time Layton residents; senior VP and Chief Operating Officer Rob Allen from Intermountain, who was raised in Layton; and Marc Harrison, MD, President and Chief Executive Officer for Intermountain who returned to Utah to work for the company.
“The physical manifestation of this hospital is the power of community,” he said. “The opportunity to serve others is as high a calling as we can receive.”
In a twist of irony, it was also revealed that Harrison actually appeared on an episode of “Mr. Rogers Neighborhood” when he was 5 years old, in kindergarten and living in Pittsburgh. Newell told him, “The shows are still shown on PBS, and you can also find them online. So you just might be able to find Marc in one of the shows!”
Tuesday night, a showing of the film “Won’t You Be My Neighbor?” the Fred Rogers documentary, was screened at the Ed Kenley Amphitheatre in Layton.
Intermountain Layton Hospital is holding a public open house this Saturday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., offering tours, face painting, prizes and free food.