Wednesday, August 12, 2015

A Hospital By Any Other Name....

Allow me to voice my displeasure with the administrators at ThedaCare who have decided to remove the name Theda Clark from the hospital in Neenah.  The facility shall henceforth be known as "ThedaCare Regional Medical Center-Neenah"--a name that just rolls off the tongue.  It's also a name that deprives Neenah of another part of its rich history.

Theda Clark Hospital is named for Theda Clark Peters--a community activist who died during childbirth in 1903.  Her father--Charles B. Clark of the Kimberly-Clark paper mills that made the Fox Cities what they are today--saw the need for a hospital in the community and donated $96,000 to build the facility in honor of his daughter (you can read into it whatever you want as tow why he chose to drop her married name).  That would be worth $2.5 million dollars today.  Clark also gave the hospital an additional $50,000 (worth $1.3 mill today) as an endowment to care for those who could not afford to pay.

From that family tragedy came a community asset--that has since grown to a regional asset--as Theda Clark has the area's only Level One Trauma center and is the destination for those most seriously injured in car and plane crashes or industrial accidents.  It has since expanded to include the area's only Children's Hospital for treatment of seriously ill and injured kids.  It's a gift that has continued to give and give and give--generation after generation.

But now our generation is done paying tribute to the family that bestowed upon the region this gift.  I'm sure some "Branding Expert" from New York or Dallas or San Francisco was brought in to look at the names of all the ThedaCare hospitals.  He or she likely put together a snazzy PowerPoint presentation using terms like "consistency of message" and "synergy across all platforms" and convinced the administrators that "Theda Clark" just "doesn't tell people who and where you are".

In their press release yesterday, those administrators said that using the title "ThedaCare" still "acknowledges their rich history".  Nice try, guys--but no it doesn't.  ThedaCare is a made up word (with a capital letter in the middle of it for crump's sake).  And just because "Theda" is in there doesn't make it an honor--just like "Integrys" doesn't conjure up "integrity" and "Insperity" doesn't "inspire us".  You may as well serve ThedaFood in the ThedaCafeteria with ThedaCoffee and ThedaCream.

Theda Clark is a name that acknowledges a rich history.  It was a real person with a real story.  And it is a real part of our history--a history we continue to lose in the name of "brand recognition".

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