Public Papers

Remarks to the Staff of the Primary Children's Medical Center in Salt Lake City, Utah


Thank you very, very much. Thank you for that warm welcome. And let me just say how pleased I am to see Secretary Sullivan here today, to be with him. He's doing a superb job at HHS. He's just back from a trip, significant trip to Africa with the Vice President, was in Colorado yesterday. And when jet lag catches up with this guy, he's going to go like that, I think. [Laughter] But nevertheless, Lou, we're glad you're here.

And may I salute, of course, the Governor, who greeted us so kindly, and the Congressman, Congressman Hansen, and our two great Senators, Orrin Hatch and Jake Garn, who were earlier on, and the Lieutenant Governor of the State. And also I want to single out another man to whom Barbara and I still feel very close, the former Secretary of Education Ted Bell I see sitting over here. And to Mr. Anderson, the center chairman here, and to Dave Salisbury, who gave us that fascinating history of how all this came about, the chairman here, Mr. Parker, the CEO, and Dr. Simmons, the medical director of Primary Children's Medical Center, I want to particularly salute all of them. And to ladies and gentlemen and kids over here, it's a pleasure for me to be here today. And I really have enjoyed this brief but most informative tour of this magnificent facility.

An old adage counsels, ``live and let live'' -- this adage says ``live and let live.'' Well, this facility helps give life to kids. It's a state-of-the-art pediatric care center. It also towers as a monument to America's volunteer spirit.

For many years, the children of this area, the Intermountain area, supported Primary Children's with pennies, nickels, and dimes given on their birthdays. This selfless spirit of charity continues today with the giving of your time and of yourselves. I think of and salute hundreds of volunteers who donate more than a quarter million hours a year to children and those community representatives serving without pay as members of the governing board of the hospital.

I think, too, of your staff and physicians, a handful of whom I just met, one of whom, Dr. Floyd Seager, we have honored nationally as a daily Point of Light. He's sitting right over here. That's talking about voluntarism at its finest. That same generosity of his moved thousands of area residents, that volunteer spirit, to help build this facility. All helped Intermountain Health Care win the health care industry's highest honor for quality, the Healthcare Forum Witt Award.

On my tour of the hospital, we started by visiting the rehab unit. And then I saw many sick kids who have won their first battle, the battle for life, and are now fighting a second battle, and that's the battle for recovery. These kids really depend on your trust and your affection and your caring. And you, in response, fulfill the old Bible verse: ``We were gentle among you, like a nurse taking care of her children.''

Nowhere is this more important than in reducing infant mortality rates. We must reverse the factors that cause preventable infant deaths. That's why I've personally made what we call the Healthy Start program a Presidential initiative and a top national priority. It's also why I'm pleased, with Dr. Sullivan, to award Healthy Start program grants today to 15 communities that have shown urgent need, have developed excellent plans for addressing those needs, and have organized communitywide efforts to achieve results.

I asked the Congress for million this year to help curb infant mortality; Congress appropriated only million. We will use it as best we can; between million to million will go to each of these 15 communities. I am pleased that the Healthy Start program can begin immediately, but Congress must appropriate more money for this initiative next year. Together, let's show how America's most precious resource is America's ability to care.

In that spirit, let me close these brief remarks with a story about one of Barbara Bush's predecessors, a First Lady, in my view, a great First Lady, Pat Nixon. And once she toured a medical center and stopped to embrace a little girl blinded by rubella. For a few minutes, she talked to the girl and held her close. And then later, someone came over and told her that the child was deaf, as well as blind. Pat answered that she'd known that. ``But she knows what love is,'' Mrs. Nixon said. ``She can feel love.''

Well, at Primary Children's, you feel that the minute you walk in here. Kids feel love every day of their lives. For that, we owe a debt of gratitude to everyone here who helps. I know you will remain, I'm confident that you will remain one of the finest pediatric care centers in the entire world.

It has been so inspirational to be with you. Congratulations, and best wishes to all of you, and best wishes especially to all of you. Thank you very, very much.

Note: The President spoke at 4:30 p.m. at the center. In his remarks, he referred to Secretary of Health and Human Services Louis W. Sullivan; Gov. Norman H. Bangerter of Utah; Representative James V. Hansen; Senators Orrin G. Hatch and Jake Garn; Lt. Gov. W. Val Oveson of Utah; former Secretary of Education Terrel H. Bell; Arthur S. Anderson, chairman of the board of trustees of the center; David Earl Salisbury, chairman of the board of trustees, and Scott Smith Parker, chief executive officer, Intermountain Health Care; Michael Anthony Simmons, medical director of the center; and Floyd Seager, a doctor at the center. A tape was not available for the verification of the content of these remarks.