Our View: Name changes necessary as Mayo 'brand' expands

A sense of inevitability accompanied this week's announcement that Saint Marys' and Rochester Methodist's hospital names will change next year.

The Saint Marys and Rochester Methodist names will be legally dissolved on Jan. 1, 2014, when both campuses will be known as Mayo Clinic Hospital-Rochester, a change that should bring clarity to out-of-town patients — but also could be an emotional blow to the Sisters of Saint Francis and other longtime residents of southeastern Minnesota.

Visitors who come to Rochester for medical treatment often receive bills from three entities — Saint Marys, Rochester Methodist and Mayo Clinic. Official integration into one entity will simplify billing and streamline the reporting of medical data to organizations such as the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, The Joint Commission and The Leapfrog Group, which track patient outcomes and safety data.

"We've had an integrated practice for some time, but now, we realize in this complex era of health care that we can better practice medicine under a single license," said Mayo Clinic CEO Dr. John Noseworthy during a news conference on Monday, adding the reporting and regulatory environment "truly mandates that."

Simply put, the merger will make it easier for organizations to get financial data about Mayo and for patients to have a more accurate picture of care.


Truly, this move simply cements an already firm relationship between the clinic and two hospitals that had independent origins but long have been affiliated with Mayo. The two hospitals had a cooperative-but-independent status with Mayo until 1986, when Mayo Clinic, Rochester Methodist Hospital and Saint Marys Hospital integrated their operations under one governing board. Mayo operated both hospitals as separate entities under two licenses, an arrangement that will end on Jan. 1.

The Franciscan tradition will remain at Saint Marys and the convent, which is home to 16 nuns, will stay. Saint Marys' chapels will continue the worship schedule. Additionally, chaplaincy services at both hospital campuses also will continue. Even though Mayo Clinic Hospital-Rochester will not appear in the Catholic Health Care Directory, there will be no change in Saint Marys Hospital policy regarding birth control and abortion.

Sister Marilyn Geiger, who appeared with Noseworthy at the news conference, explained the Sisters of Saint Francis saw the merger as an emotional but necessary change.

"We're at a new moment for our patients," Geiger said. "And I believe Dr. Noseworthy is being the new W.W. Mayo, and I'm being the new Mother Alfred."

Still, setting aside the emotional and symbolic significance of this decision, there's little doubt that the name change is an attempt to increase recognition of the Mayo "brand," which is absolutely necessary. A health-care organization that aspires to be the best in the world, to improve the health of millions of people across the globe, can't allow confusion.

When people go home after receiving an organ transplant, or when they take a child home after a successful battle with leukemia, they need to understand that Mayo Clinic made it happen.

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