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Business Observer Friday, Jul. 8, 2016 2 years ago

What's in a name?

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Name changes for large medical facilities, even subtle ones, can be big deals.
by: Mark Gordon Managing Editor

Employees at one of the most established patient-specific medical facilities in the region ran through the doors to get to work one day in early April.

The purpose of the rush was to get their hands on the first T-shirts to highlight the new name of the facility: Johns Hopkins All Children's Hospital.

The St. Petersburg-based facility has been medically affiliated with the prominent Baltimore medical organization since 2011. But the new moniker, say hospital officials, is a big step up, from recognition to recruiting to patient care. That's why employees were so excited to get the shirts, says Sylvia Ameen, the hospital's vice president of marketing and communications.
Hospital officials also hope the name change marks the beginning of a new era of expansion and innovation, both for the section of downtown St. Petersburg and the medical community.

“Our name is very well recognized on the west coast of the state and in Florida,” says hospital board chairman Mark Stroud. “But Johns Hopkins is a worldwide brand.”

Johns Hopkins All Children's, with 259 beds, was founded in 1926, initially to treat children with polio and other crippling disorders. The hospital signed an affiliation agreement with Johns Hopkins in 2011, partially to prepare itself for industry consolidation. National hospital companies, seeking ways to boost revenues with a decline in government reimbursements, were gobbling up smaller facilities. The hospital, officials say, also sought new avenues for recruiting doctors and nurses, improving research and working on cutting-edge treatments.

Says Stroud: “We wanted to raise the bar for this hospital.”

The name change isn't a merger or an acquisition. The All Children's board remains locally controlled and all assets remain part of the St. Petersburg facility. The partnership, instead, is what hospital officials call a member substitution agreement, a common practice in nonprofit health care.

All Children's passed multiple meticulous quality-of-care tests from Johns Hopkins from 2011 through this year to prepare for the official name change. Doctors, nurses and other employees made numerous trips to Baltimore to work together with colleagues on projects and cases. “We keep Southwest busy going back and forth,” quips Ameen, in regards to the airline the hospital uses for travel.

All Children's, with an operating budget of $500 million in fiscal 2016, is now the third academic hospital in the Johns Hopkins system, where hospital executives are doctors, not administrators. “The change signifies we met the rigorous standards set by Johns Hopkins Medical Center,” says Ameen. “You have to go through a process. It just doesn't happen.”

Outside the name, in what area officials call the Innovation District, there's a bevy of activity surrounding the hospital and nearby facilities, including Bayfront Health and University of South Florida St. Petersburg. Johns Hopkins All Children's itself is currently building a 225,000-square-foot research and education building, an $85 million project.

Internally, there's a $2 million budget for the rebrand project around the name change. It includes changing signs and banners on the main campus, in addition to eight outpatient centers from Lakeland to Sarasota to Fort Myers. There are also 3,200 employee badges, marketing collateral and other materials in need of updates. About $600,000 of the budget is for an advertising campaign, on billboards and radio ads.

Word of the change is already getting out. For example, a couple from Sarasota, says Ameen, pledged a multimillion-dollar donation when they heard of the expanded Johns Hopkins relationship. The money will go toward a new CT scan machine and other equipment.

“This is a milestone moment,” Ameen says. “It's not often a hospital system changes its name, especially to Johns Hopkins.”

Follow Mark Gordon on Twitter @markigordon

By the numbers
Johns Hopkins All Children's Hospital
Beds: 259
Percentage ICU beds: 57%
Inpatient admissions: 7,607
Total surgeries: 9,770
Emergency Center visits: 45,037
Outpatient visits: 400,000+
Employees: 3,100

Note: Data is for 2013-2014 fiscal year.
Source: Johns Hopkins All Children's Hospital

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