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New medical center has a name

December 10, 2009|By ANDREW SCHOTZ

WASHINGTON COUNTY -- Health care in Washington County is getting a new name: Meritus.

When a new hospital opens in about a year, it will be called Meritus Regional Medical Center.

Washington County Health System, the parent company of Washington County Hospital, announced the change Thursday.

Meritus comes from the Latin "meritum," referring to merit or worth.

James P. Hamill, president and chief executive officer of Washington County Health System, said the word connotes excellence or demonstrated ability.

Meritus Health will become the new name of Washington County Health System. Hamill said the changes are being phased in.

Washington County Health System reaches into Frederick, Allegany and Garrett counties in Maryland and into Franklin County, Pa., so the new name, without a geographic reference, makes more sense, Hamill said.

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"We wanted to recognize the depth and breadth of the health system," he said.

"The construction of the new regional medical center provided us an opportunity to consider a new name for both the hospital and the health system," Philip L. Rohrer Jr., the chairman of the health system's board of directors, said in a news release. "After extensive consultations with our senior leaders, physicians and employees, it was concluded that a new name would prevent confusion between the hospital and Robinwood Medical Center."

Meritus Regional Medical Center is scheduled to open near Robinwood Medical Center in December 2010 or shortly after. It will replace the current Washington County Hospital on East Antietam Street in Hagerstown.

Antietam Health Services, an affiliate of the health system, is expected to become Meritus Health Services, Hamill said. However, the names of other business units -- such as Smithsburg Family Medical Center and Hagerstown Medical Laboratory -- won't change.

Monigle Associates, a Denver brand and design consulting firm, was hired to help with the new name and image.

Hamill said hundreds of initial ideas for names were narrowed down and taken to focus groups for feedback.

He said some people in the community resist change, but he expects many to accept the new name over time.

"I think it grows on you," he said.

Health system employees have had good reactions as they've been told over the last day or two, he said.

The decision on the new name was made a week ago.

The hospital provides continuously updated information on the construction project on its Web site, washingtoncountyhospital.com.

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