MURRAY — A small brick building that currently houses a sandwich shop and a small Intermountain Healthcare research lab will soon get new life as the home of the health care system's new Transformation Center.
The $55 million, four-story, 120,000-square-foot project will break ground early next year and is scheduled for completion in mid-2018.
Located a short distance from the Intermountain Medical Center campus in Murray at 5000 S. State, the new facility will house the health care system's leadership training, data collection and other research efforts.
The center will be led by Dr. Charles Sorenson, who is retiring in a week as president and CEO of Intermountain Healthcare in order to run the center.
Sorenson, contemplating his retirement, said that at first he thought he might spend it in the operating room teaching residents.
He still plans to do that, but thought he could also do something "a little bit more unique."
"Our interpretation of health care is that health care is different than a manufacturing company or a sales company," Sorenson said. "Sometimes that means making investments or doing things that don't really accrue to the bottom line benefit of the organization, at least in the shorter or medium term."
But Sorenson, like many administrators and providers at Intermountain, thinks that those investments "in the long term will contribute to a healthier population and greater affordability of health care for all Americans," he said.
The center will bring together the organization's Healthcare Leadership Institute and Institute for Health Care Delivery Research, which focuses on research within the organization on how to improve quality of care while lowering costs and training health care leaders around the world on those strategies.
The center will also house 10 different clinical research programs, which look for evidence-based best practices in areas like cancer, primary care and critical care, and are currently spread out across the Intermountain Medical Center campus.
"Most people think to get better outcomes you need to spend more money," Sorenson said. "Actually, by doing the right thing, we get better clinical outcomes and overall expense to the community is actually lower."
Real estate developer and philanthropist Kem Gardner donated $20 million to the Intermountain Foundation to jump-start construction of the four-story facility.
"I didn't want it to be something that Intermountain had to pay for, because that just meant that the cost would be transferred on to sick people to pay," said Gardner, who has served on Intermountain boards for more than three decades. "I thought that if I gave the lead gift of $20 million, that I would be in a position to ask others to help."
Gardner, who noted how often health care costs have come up as a topic during the presidential election, said he hopes the center will have national and international impact.
"That's the one thing Intermountain's been able to do — is hold costs down and still provide quality care," he said.
When finished, the building's interiors will look more like "a Google or Apple," according to Sorenson, featuring highly interactive, open floor plan classrooms and work spaces that encourage collaboration and brainstorming.
But, he added, architects have also been asked to design the building with an eye for "affordable elegance."
Intermountain's similarly named Transformation Lab — which currently occupies the building and houses the organization's technology projects such as the 3-D printer and "hospital room of the future" — will be moved to a different location to make way for the center.