CENTERVILLE – Primary Children’s Hospital will hold its 39th annual Radiothon next Thursday, March 12. Volunteers, hospital staff, patients and parents will take to the airwaves on KSL (AM 1160, FM 102.7) to help raise money for a facility that never turns patients away, despite their financial situation.
It’s the Intermountain Foundation at PCH that coordinates the radiothon, along with a telethon in the summer and other activities. Heading the foundation for the past 21 years has been Centerville resident Doug Nielsen, and he loves what he does.
“I have the most amazing job,” he said. “To work with such loving, dedicated people and see how we help families is amazing. For a kid from Bountiful to work with organizations like Disney and General Foods and so many other wonderful partners and sponsors--it’s really cool.”
The money raised goes to charity care at the hospital—to pay only for supplies and facility operation. The medical care—the doctors, nurses, etc.—is all provided on a volunteer basis by practitioners.
“It costs more than $1 million a day to keep the hospital open,” he said, “about $400 million a year. One out of 10 patients coming to the hospital have no health insurance coverage, and others have very limited coverage. But no one is turned away. Last year, we provided $13 million in charity care, and $5 million of that was covered by donations from programs like the radiothon.”
Nielsen, who served on the Centerville City Council at one time, started in foundation work at LDS Hospital. Prior to that, he had worked in public relations for the state of Utah and for the Salt Lake City. From LDS, he moved to Primary’s for three years, then joined the Children’s Miracle Network (based in Salt Lake City) for their national telethons. A job at St. Benedict’s Hospital in Ogden led to his current position at PCH, where he’s been since 1994.
“When I started here, no one was doing radiothons, and KSL was great to partner up with us,” he said. “They just turned the station over to us, and that first year we raised $40,000, and we were thrilled.”
It has grown markedly since then, and last year took in a record $521,000-plus.
“We’re so grateful and fortunate for the level of support the community turns out to give us each year,” he said. “We always need that help to support our mission of giving help to every child who needs it.”
With an average of 400 children as either out- or in-patients on any given day, the charity care offered at PCH is a constant. Nielsen said it’s both a pleasure and privilege to work at the foundation and hospital.
“The most gratifying thing for me is watching the people who are donors—it’s amazing what it does for a person who gives,” he said. “It’s positive, invigorating and uplifting. I’ve only met wonderful people who are giving to others, and I get to be the intermediate. Who else has a job that great?”
This year’s Primary Children’s Hospital/KSL Radiothon runs from 8 a.m.-4 p.m. on March 12.