Our Healthcare Legacy

Kerstin Bean
27 August 2021

The Church’s legacy of caring for health needs continues today and is an integral part of Latter-day Saint Charities’ mission. We provide healthcare services through immunizations, maternal and newborn health, wheelchair assistance, and vision and hearing care initiatives.

Latter-day Saint Charities provides healthcare services to individuals in need around the world. "We focus on basic health because it makes such a profound difference in an entire family's quality of life," says Sharon Eubank, director of Latter-day Saint Charities. "All children are beloved. Jesus Christ went to great lengths to demonstrate this in His ministry and so must His Church," she says.

One hundred years ago, Louie Felt and May Anderson saw a child on crutches struggling across a Salt Lake City street. Inspired by this scene, these women realized a need for specialized medical care for children and acted. The beginnings of Utah's Primary Children's Hospital were born.

Sister Felt and Sister Anderson, General President of and counselor in the Primary Association (children's program) of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, first helped create a separate children's ward within Salt Lake City's LDS Hospital, which later became a stand-alone facility known as Primary Children's Hospital.

In 1975, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints created an independent nonprofit corporation, Intermountain Healthcare, which now includes Primary Children's Hospital. Today, Primary Children's Hospital has become a hallmark for children's medical care, ranking as one of the top pediatric hospitals in the US.

Children Helping Children

The participation of Primary children was essential to the initial success of Primary Children's Hospital. To help fund the facility, they would donate their birthday pennies.

Pennies from children helped establish Primary Children's Hospital. Photo credit: Deseret News Publishing Company

Sister Eubank remembers bringing pennies to church on her birthday as a child. Like many individuals her age, she would collect pennies from family and friends and drop them in a bank shaped like Primary Children's Hospital during Primary.

"Even as a six-year-old girl, I felt important and needed as I clanked my small coins in the bank to help other children receive medical care that would save their lives even if they couldn't pay. One of the saddest things I could imagine as that little girl was a person who badly needed medical help and couldn't pay for it. It still is," says Sister Eubank.

Healthcare Services Today

The Church's legacy of caring for health needs continues today and is an integral part of Latter-day Saint Charities' mission. We provide healthcare services through immunizations, maternal and newborn health, wheelchair assistance, and vision and hearing care initiatives.

An oncology section of a children's eye care center in India which is part of the Latter-day Saint Charities vision care program.

"Latter-day Saint Charities works to strengthen local healthcare so mothers and babies survive birth, get the right immunizations, drink clean water, and have access to trained doctors and nurses. It helps people with disabilities get the devices they need to participate in society. JustServe connects people to opportunities in their community where they can volunteer," says Sister Eubank.

In 2020, Latter-day Saint Charities accomplished the following:

  • Helped 7,188,356 people in eight countries with vaccinations for diseases such as diphtheria, influenza, maternal and neonatal tetanus, polio, measles, malaria, rubella, and more.
  • Helped train 8,873 caregivers in seven countries to include lifesaving training for birth attendants.
  • Helped improve mobility, health, and education and economic opportunities for 17,381 people with physical disabilities in sixteen countries.
  • Helped 401,548 beneficiaries receive vision care services in seventeen countries and partnered with hearing organizations to provide hearing aids to hundreds of individuals.

Latter-day Saint Charities serves God's children around the world, but you don't have to travel far to find ways to help. Within your own community, there are opportunities to serve. Like Sister Felt and Sister Anderson, when you see a need, you can act and make a difference. "I would that ye should impart of your substance to the poor, ... visiting the sick and administering to their relief, both spiritually and temporarily" (Mosiah 4:26).

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