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Springfield's St. John's Health System and its St. Louis parent, Sisters of Mercy Health System, will undergo names changes later this year. St. John's President and CEO Jon Swope, left, and Sisters of Mercy President and CEO Lynn Britton say the changes will promote a unified system identity.
Springfield's St. John's Health System and its St. Louis parent, Sisters of Mercy Health System, will undergo names changes later this year. St. John's President and CEO Jon Swope, left, and Sisters of Mercy President and CEO Lynn Britton say the changes will promote a unified system identity.

Name change on the way for St. John's

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A name change on the way later this year for St. Louis-based Sisters of Mercy Health System is the result of a bigger-picture, behind the scenes shift for the health system, according to Sisters of Mercy President and CEO Lynn Britton.

This spring, the health system, which is the parent entity of Springfield-based St. John’s Health System and has 28 hospitals and 200 outpatient facilities in four states, expects to change its name to Mercy Health, launching phased name changes for St. John’s hospitals and clinics in communities including Springfield, Cassville and Aurora.

Britton said new names for the hospitals and other facilities under the Mercy banner have not yet been determined, but they are expected to be rolled out in the fall.

All of the changes, he said, are an effort to ensure that patients and communities understand that all providers and facilities in the Mercy system work together to provide patient care.

“What we realize as leaders and physicians across all our different communities across the four states is that we’re stronger together, and that health care is local, regional and virtual all at the same time," Britton said.

Mercy’s implementation more than five years ago of a $450 million electronic health record system has given providers in Missouri, Arkansas, Oklahoma and Kansas real-time access to patient data. Today, 87,000 patients are enrolled in the system, but the challenge, Britton said, is that when patients are referred to different providers, they don’t always realize they’re still being cared for within the health system.

But, he said, that’s where the name change – and a common identity – can be beneficial.

“It’s a real way to say, ‘We’re one,’ across all communities,” Britton said.

With increased use of telemedicine that allows patients to receive specialized care without necessarily traveling to an out-of-town facility and the advent of MyMercy, a Web-based system that connects patients and providers and enabling them to view test results, renew prescriptions and make appointments, health system and hospital leaders say the time is right for the health system to present a unified image.

“It’s amazing how few people in the communities (we serve) realize that a health facility or provider is part of a broader system,” said St. John’s Health System President and CEO Jon Swope. “We hear and see examples all the time of the benefits of the continuous care that can be provided as a result of electronic health records or just the collegiality of having physicians that are part of the same organizational culture.”

In today’s health arena, particularly in light of health reform, Britton said it’s easy to get focused on what needs to change, but the systemwide streamlining process was a good reminder that providing health care is – and always will be at Mercy’s core.

“If all you’re thinking about is changing everything, you lose sight of why (we do) this. It absolutely was a recommitment to remind ourselves while we’re here in the first place.”

Also important to the system and its employees is paying homage to the role of the Sisters of Mercy in its history.

Catherine McAuley founded the first House of Mercy in Dublin, Ireland, in 1827. Springfield’s St. John’s Hospital was founded in 1891, and today, the Mercy System has more than 36,000 employees, including 10,296 in St. John’s Health System.

Britton noted that while some co-workers have expressed concern about whether the sisters’ role in the system’s history will be lost with the new name, members of the Sisters of Mercy were among the 80 people who were part of the roughly yearlong process that led to the impending name change.

“Their point to us was that (the system) is a mercy ministry that we must carry on, that one day may not be Sisters of Mercy, because their numbers are dwindling,” Britton said, noting that while there are still about 200 sisters tied to the system, only about 15 remain actively engaged in the work.

Along with new names and a new logo that’s now being designed, a new mission statement beginning with the words, “As the sisters before us,” already has been adopted internally.

“In Springfield, it’s St. John’s Health System and St. John’s Hospital, and the word Mercy really doesn’t appear,” Britton said. “Putting the Mercy name in is really a way to continue honoring them for generations to come.”

Though Britton said it’s premature to speculate on what the new names of St. John’s Hospital and other facilities would be, he said completion of the transition for all Mercy and St. John’s sites could take a couple of years. Neither Britton nor Swope would say how much it would cost to change signage and health system materials, though they said those expenses would be covered by the existing marketing budget.

“It won’t happen overnight,” Swope said. “It will not take away from patient care services or charitable things we do.”[[In-content Ad]]

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