New year starts with new name for St. George’s hospital

A view above what is now St. George Regional Hospital on Feb. 13, 2020 in St. George, Utah. | Photo by Chris Reed, St. George News

ST. GEORGE — The signs outside still say Dixie Regional Medical Center. The website still says Dixie Regional Medical Center, as do the signs on Interstate 15. But it is not Dixie Regional Medical Center anymore.

The main entrance to what is now St. George Regional Hospital in St. George, Utah on May 8, 2020. | Photo by Chris Reed, St. George News

At the stroke of midnight Friday, the largest hospital in Southern Utah officially became Intermountain St. George Regional Hospital.

The change is coming slow – after all, there is still a COVID-19 pandemic that as of this weekend is occupying 22% of the 284 beds and has the hospital at 73% capacity according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

But within the hospital itself, stationery, paperwork and other documentation have been in the process of being changed to the St. George Regional name in the last few weeks. And according to Terri Draper, spokesperson for St. George Regional Hospital, the public should be seeing the name physically change from the outside in the coming weeks.

“I believe signs are scheduled to begin changing (this) week,” Draper said. “Last I heard, it will take a couple of weeks to complete.”

The name change was announced on July 16.

The hospital’s new name, as well as Dixie State University’s recent push to change its name, has drawn criticism from local residents who feel it abandons a part of the local culture and history.

When the change was announced in July, hospital administrator Mitch Cloward said the name change was in the works before the nationwide Black Lives Matter protests in May but was still based on the connotation of the word to some outside Southern Utah.

The signs still say Dixie Regional Medical Center, but Southern Utah’s regional hospital is now known as St. George Regional Hospital.  In St. George, Utah on Feb. 13, 2020. | Photo by Chris Reed, St. George News

“The meaning of Dixie is not clear for everyone. The word Dixie still has a beautiful meaning for those who live here. For those outside this area, it does not have clear connotations,” Cloward said. “For people outside this area, it can be offensive. A hospital needs to be a place where all patients feel they can be cared for.”

St. George Regional Hospital officials have also told St. George News that the Dixie name had affected the ability to recruit top doctors, nurses and other staff from outside the area as the hospital tries to continue to build a reputation that has included being named among the top regional hospitals in the country by U.S. News and World Report.

“As I stepped into the role, I had a chance to meet with physicians as we recruited them. Some are coming for the first time, and occasionally I would speak with physicians (that asked) about the name,” Dr. Patrick Carroll, medical director of the hospital, said in July. “Using the St. George name provides clarity and will aid in recruitment.”

Copyright St. George News, LLC, 2021, all rights reserved.

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