What is in a name?

Jan. 11, 2013 @ 07:42 PM

Having just learned of a more-than-likely name change for Durham Regional Hospital, I felt a little sadness that Durham is to be removed from its name. 

Duke Regional is not a bad name but I just like my hometown Durham name better.  I even liked the name Watts Hospital and Lincoln Hospital, however, I understood changing the name to Durham Regional when these hometown hospitals merged.  I fear that when the name changes the hospital will become just another Duke building and lose its hometown identity and character.

I have the utmost respect for Mike Ruffin and Michael Page, who in addition to serving in their official government capacity as County Manager and County Commissioner also serve on Durham Regional’s Board of Directors.  If they are in favor of the name change for the branding and marketing advantages stated in the news story, I will assume there must be validity to the proposal.  Similar to a church being a place to go and worship, I prefer to think of a hospital as a place to go to get well.  I prefer not to think about the business side of the institution.

Perhaps my objection to the name change is personal and one of tradition.  All of my medical history and that of most of my family has been with either Watts or Durham Regional Hospital. I was born at Watts, met my bride at Watts, my children were born at Durham Regional, I have had several relatives who worked at Regional and my life has been saved more than once at Regional.   I like the name Durham in our local hospital because it suggests the hometown/family aura that exist at Regional. 

I am certainly no marketing expert, but it seems to me that Durham Regional attracts people not only from Durham but from the surrounding areas as well.  I do not think that there is a name recognition problem.  I believe that many people choose Durham Regional to avoid the vastness of Duke, which can be overwhelming.   

If you have had occasion to visit Regional recently you are well aware of the overflowing parking lots, so obviously business is good.  Duke is in the hospital and health care business and they do a great job at it.  Durham is the City of Medicine because of Duke, the Veterans Administration Hospital, Durham Regional Hospital,  NC Eye, Ear, Nose and Throat, The Specialty Hospital and other fine medical facilities.  If I had a vote, Regional would remain Durham Regional or Duke Durham Regional, but regardless of the name of the facility, I am just glad that I live in a city where such great medical care is available.  

Kent Fletcher is a longtime resident of Durham.