Skip to main content

West Valley City Journal

Costs rise for proposed University of Utah hospital in West Valley City

Oct 12, 2023 03:21PM ● By Darrell Kirby

This image shows what the proposed University of Utah Health hospital in West Valley City would look like at completion. (Courtesy University of Utah Health)

The proposed University of Utah hospital in West Valley City may take longer than planned to complete. 

Officials with University of Utah Health say that because of rising costs, an ambitious plan—first announced in 2022—to build a full-service hospital on a 21-acre site near 3700 South and 5600 West will likely have to be done in phases rather than the original plan to build the medical center and auxiliary facilities as one large construction project. 

They’ll also have to figure out how to finance the higher price tag. The original estimate in 2022 was $500 million—$400 million for the buildings and $100 million to equip and furnish them. University of Utah Health CEO Dr. Michael Good says higher construction and material costs compounded by inflation has pushed that to $855 million “and put it out of reach for us.” 

“We’re needing to rephase how we build the hospital and health center,” Good told a steering committee of stakeholders and other community participants involved in the planning of what would be the largest capital project ever undertaken in West Valley City. “I want to acknowledge how frustrating this situation is. We’re not where we’d hoped to be.” 

The Utah Legislature gave authority to the Utah Board of Higher Education to issue $500 million in bonds on behalf of the University of Utah to build the hospital and healthcare education center similar in scope but a bit smaller than the flagship University Hospital on the University of Utah campus. The education center component of it will be for the teaching and training of nursing  and other healthcare students under programs administered by the University of Utah and Salt Lake Community College. 

Despite the setbacks, University of Utah Health Hospitals and Clinics Chief Operations Officer Gina Hawley says the $500 million set aside for the hospital will stay there. “We have not recommitted any of the funds for West Valley. The commitment is still there.” Hawley echoed Good’s contention that economic factors are forcing some aspects of the planned hospital back to the drawing board. “Things like rising interest rates, inflation, the construction labor market, and supply chain fluctuations have all contributed. Healthcare projects across the country are seeing this.”

“We will get there. We just know it’s a different path for us,” she added. 

To bridge the funding gap, Good said that University of Utah President Taylor Randall has made the hospital a “fundraising priority” whether through philanthropy or other means. 

The plan to break ground on some part of the medical campus in 2024 is still in place, but the hoped-for completion of all or nearly all of it in 2027 will probably be pushed back for an undetermined period of time. 

Nevertheless, the project is far from being put on life support. “The commitment to deliver health care in West Valley is sincere, it’s solid, and this is a way we can move forward,” Good said. “We will get it done.” λ