Is it Still a Hospital? The New Name Game!

It used to be easy. Hospitals were where we went for emergency care, certain types of surgeries, for labor and delivery or for in-patient treatment of acute or chronic disease. Most people thought of it as the destination if you were very sick or hurt. Hospitals were also easy to find because they had the word “hospital” incorporated with their name.

Under healthcare reform hospitals are reinventing themselves from a fee-for-service payment model to one that pays for performance and that strives to prevent in-patient care through education, prevention and uses of alternate sources of treatment. Their new focus is on health and wellness and the total care of patients whether they are at a community health center, a hospital, other healthcare facility or at home.

As hospitals re-think their strategy they are also re-thinking their name and identity in the marketplace as they seek to reposition themselves in the mind of the consumer. Hospitals are now asking themselves the obvious question-are we a hospital; medical center; a health center/system; or something else?

Here are some examples of the new names as well as changes that have occurred in the marketplace as hospitals continue to search for a new identity by playing the “new name game”!


In some cases hospitals are still called hospitals. For example:

• It’s now Jefferson Hospital from Jefferson Regional Medical Center- Jefferson Hills. PA.
• Massachusetts General Hospital is still Massachusetts General Hospital – Boston, MA.


Placing health in the name has grown popular. For example:

• Indiana University Health-Indianapolis, IN
• St. Vincent Health- Indianapolis, IN
• Peace Health- Vancouver, WA
• Denver Health-Denver, CO
• Trios Health-Kennewick, WA was Kennewick General Hospital
• Kentucky One Health-Lexington, KY

On the surface placing the word “health” in the name makes sense. If your new to the area, however, does “ _______ Health” mean a hospital, a clinic, a medical office building, a laboratory, a diagnostic facility or something else?

Medical Center

Oftentimes the name “medical center” implies the provision of medical education and patient research but in reality other facilities provide these services as well.

Some institutions use the term “Medical Center” in their name with some added verbiage. One gives you their location (Detroit or Cincinnati). Two institutions remind you that they are both a University and a Medical Center (Vanderbilt and University of Cincinnati). Another lets you know their location, specialty and that they are a Medical Center (Cincinnati Children’s)

• Detroit Medical Center: Detroit MI
• Vanderbilt University Medical Center-Nashville, TN
• Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center-Cincinnati, OH
• University of Cincinnati Medical Center-Was University Hospital-Cincinnati, OH

Health Network

Some hospitals want you to know they are part of a number of hospitals (network)

• Christ Hospital Health Network from Christ Hospital: Cincinnati, Ohio
• Banner Health Network- Phoenix, AZ.

Health Medical Center

Broward General Medical Center has been one of the nation’s oldest public hospitals. In 2012 it changed its name to downplay that they are a public hospital.

• Broward General Medical Center to Broward Health Medical Center-Fort Lauderdale, FL


Some hospitals want you to know they are a hospital or Medical Center along with their location.

• Beth Israel Deaconess Hospital-Plymouth, MA from Jordan Hospital (new affiliation)
• Children’s Medical Center of Dayton- Dayton, OH
• VA Medical Center-Loma Linda, CA


Some institutions want you to think of them as providing healthcare and a hospital as just one of their many services.

• St. Elizabeth Healthcare- from St. Elizabeth Medical Center- Northern Kentucky
• Scottsdale Healthcare-Scottsdale, AZ


Some hospitals have been known for years because they provide hospital care using their own physicians and clinics. They are recognized brands. Examples of their USA facilities are:

• Cleveland Clinic-Cleveland, OH
• Mayo Clinic- Rochester, MN and Scottsdale AZ

Mission & Scope

Sometimes a name change is required to reflect a new governance structure and a broader scope of services; and/or associated services and hospitals that include secular and non-secular facilities. An example is:

• Catholic Healthcare West to Dignity Health

Purchase or New Affiliation

In some cases the institutions changed their name because of a new affiliation. Examples are:

• Barnwell County Hospital changed its name to Southern Palmetto Hospital after it was purchased by Resurgence Management Company.
• Cushing Memorial Hospital in Leavenwork, KS changed its name to St. Luke’s Cushing Hospital to more clearly define its affiliation with St. Luke’s Health System.

Religious Affiliation

Some institutions want to make it clear that they have a religious affiliation that welcomes all people regardless of culture, religion, race or background.

• Parker Adventist Hospital- Parker, CO


Some names are downright confusing or maybe it’s just me.

• Unity Point Health used to be Iowa Health –Des Moines, IA.
• Vidant Medical Center from Pitt County Memorial Hospital- Greenville, NC

Parting Thoughts

As hospitals seek new sources of revenue from in-patient care and payment under fee-for service to a fixed payment system that is designed to keep consumers well and out of the hospital many are seeking new identities that promote health and wellness. This will challenge many of them to provide an identity that shows they are at the forefront of providing readily accessible high level preventative, acute and chronic care to a large and diverse population while staying relevant and recognizable in the marketplace. A name is a very important symbol that communicates purpose and promise. It should not be taken lightly.