Opening of the UU Health Sciences Center NICU
On this day in history, the University of Utah Health Sciences Center Newborn Intensive Care Unit (NICU) opened in 1968. This NICU was the first of its kind in the Mountain West region, serving patients between Denver, Colorado and the West Coast and between Phoenix, Arizona and Canada.
Dr. August Jung, University of Utah MD class of 1961, established the NICU with no budget. Initially most of the equipment had to be borrowed from medical companies and other universities. But Dr. Jung understood the need for this resource and took on the brunt of fundraising himself. At one point, he and his nurses sold donuts to raise money to buy a heart monitor. Within a year of opening the NICU, infant mortality in the region was cut in half.
Last year, the NICU celebrated its 50th anniversary. In the decades since its founding, the NICU has expanded from its 4 infant capacity to now be able to care for up to 55 infants at a time— some born 17 weeks premature. With the aid of improved medical technology, an around the clock staff made up of experts in their field, and a budget that does not solely rely on the fundraising efforts of a single man, the NICU has become an invaluable resource to the community and will continue serving patients for decades to come.
Interested in learning more about this historic event? Be sure to check out the History of the Health Sciences digital collections, available free online for public use: https://library.med.utah.edu/digital-collections/history-of-health-sciences/ The digital collections house a wide variety of photographs, transcripts, videos, and more, detailing the history of people, places, and events that have shaped the health sciences at the U of U into what they are today.
Featured digital collection: https://collections.lib.utah.edu/ark:/87278/s6dj8qxk
To explore even more of the University of Utah Health history, visit our Digital Publishing and Collections page.
This is a guest blog post
by Olivia Soehner, educator