Dartmouth-Hitchcock Health drops the ‘Hitchcock’ as rebranding aims south

  • Dartmouth-Hitchcock Health officials announced on Tuesday, April 11, 2022, the organization's name is changed to Dartmouth Health and unveiled their new logo. (Courtesy Dartmouth Health)

  • Ryan Welch, a window washer for Aslan's Maintenance, wears a Captain America costume as he washes windows on the fifth floor at the Children's Hospital at Dartmouth in Lebanon, N.H., on Sept. 19, 2013. Fellow window washer Ben Stebbins, dressed as Superman, cleans the windows further down the building. Patients and staff at CHAD watched as the superheroes descended from the roof, smiling and waving as they did their jobs. Aslan's Maintenance staff decided to assume the personnas of super heroes after a patient was frightened by the window washers. (Valley News - Sarah Priestap) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com. Valley News File photograph

  • Norris Cotton in an undated photograph. Cotton was a Republican U.S. Senator from Lebanon, N.H., who served from 1954 to 1975, and helped secure a $3 million federal grant in 1970 to build what was rural New England's first regional cancer center in Hanover, N.H. (Valley News photograph) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com. Valley News file photograph

Valley News Staff Writer
Published: 4/12/2022 9:50:01 PM
Modified: 4/13/2022 9:44:29 PM

LEBANON — New Hampshire’s sole academic health system, based in Lebanon, aims to use a new name and logo to increase its brand recognition in the competitive market in southern New Hampshire and beyond.

In a phone interview Tuesday afternoon, following the noon release of a pre-recorded video announcing that Dartmouth-Hitchcock Health is now known as Dartmouth Health, Dr. Joanne Conroy, DH’s CEO, said that people who live south of Concord “already refer to us as Dartmouth.”

The new name gives the system a chance to “reintroduce ourselves to those people who don’t drive by our facilities every day,” Conroy said.

The health system, which includes Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center in Lebanon, four smaller hospitals, Visiting Nurse and Hospice for Vermont and New Hampshire and more than 24 outpatient clinics, has long sought to strengthen its foothold in the more populous southern part of New Hampshire, even as Massachusetts-based health systems have increased their presence there.

In addition to dropping the “Hitchcock,” the health network renamed its Lebanon cancer center and children’s hospital on Tuesday. The Norris Cotton Cancer Center now is the Dartmouth Cancer Center and Dartmouth Health Children’s now includes Children’s Hospital at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center, or “CHaD.”

DH’s new logo “The Weave,” green and white lines woven together in a shape that resembles a cross, represents the concept of the new brand: “World-class care woven into the fabric of our communities,” according to a new media packet on a new website dartmouth-health.org. The pre-recorded video featured Conroy and the leaders of the system’s members seated in the Millyard Museum in Manchester, the city’s textile industry providing a link to the weaving concept.

The names of the system’s member hospitals have been retained, including Alice Peck Day Memorial Hospital in Lebanon; Cheshire Medical Center in Keene; Mt. Ascutney Hospital and Health Center in Windsor; New London Hospital and DHMC. The names will appear below the Dartmouth Health name on signs, however, Conroy said.

In the video, the CEOs emphasized how working together has benefited their individual organizations. Some cited additional opportunities for professional advancement for employees; others noted that cooperation can make it easier to move patients to the facility best equipped to provide the right kind of care and to care for more seriously ill patients in smaller facilities; others said that they appreciate having access to DH experts in complicated subjects such as the federal 340b drug pricing program.

Dr. Joseph Perras, Mt. Ascutney’s CEO, said the Dartmouth Health name will help assure patients that they will get a consistent quality of care across the system while allowing individual organizations to retain their “unique cultures.”

While DH officials celebrated the changes as part of the path forward, some community members mourned the loss of names that recognized the past.

Thomas Barry, a Concord-based attorney, worked for the late U.S. Sen. Norris Cotton in Washington, D.C., from 1969 to 1975. He said he received a call from Dr. Steven Leach, the cancer center’s director, on Monday alerting him to the name change and informing him that the clinical cancer care area at DHMC will now be known as Norris Cotton Cancer Care Pavilion.

“I told Dr. Leach that it was a travesty to do this,” Barry said.

Barry said eliminating the Cotton name from the cancer center in its 50th year ignores the senator’s essential contributions to its establishment. He credited Cotton with bringing millions of dollars in federal funds to the hospital to create the cancer center and to expand Dartmouth’s medical school from a two-year to a four-year, fully accredited program.

“I was just shocked and dismayed that this would happen after what he did,” Barry said.

He questioned whether dropping a name that’s been in place for 50 years will yield the results the health system’s leaders are hoping for.

The new name emphasizes the cancer center’s dual nature as part of both Dartmouth Health and Dartmouth College, Leach said in a Tuesday email. “It is also a recognition of the fact that we are providing state-of-the-art, compassionate cancer care for our neighbors, while also creating new knowledge for the world.”

Leach said through the pavilion’s name “we will continue to honor the key role played by Sen. Norris Cotton in bringing sophisticated cancer care to rural northern New England.”

Similarly, Conroy said of Cotton, “We can still honor him for what he did up at the Lebanon campus.” But, she added, “We’re much bigger than that now.”

Jennifer Gilkie, DH’s vice president of communications and marketing, said in the Tuesday phone interview with Conroy that the system has some marketing research that it will use as a baseline to assess the effect of the new brand on DH’s name recognition and awareness.

Success will be when people “know what to expect” from members of Dartmouth Health, she said. There “won’t be a money metric,” Conroy said.

Gilkie said the organization worked with an outside firm on the new brand, but declined to provide the cost of the contract for the project. The health system’s “brand journey” has been placed on hold at times amid the COVID-19 pandemic over the course of the past two years, Conroy said. She noted that none of the federal funds the organization has received to support it through the pandemic have gone toward the branding project.

Some of the costs are yet to be realized. Dartmouth Health will phase in its new brand identity over the next few years, beginning with its website, and other “digital assets,” as well as other “publicly visible elements” such as signs and employee badges. Most items will be updated or replaced when reordering is necessary in an effort to reduce costs and minimize waste, Gilkie said.

The CEOs acknowledged that some people might be upset by the changes.

“It’s OK to be sad about what you’re letting go of,” Dr. Sue Mooney, APD’s CEO, said in the recording. “I don’t think we need to pretend that it’s not mixed feelings for folks.”

Still, she said, “I think this is the right thing to do. We’ve got a great future together.”

Nora Doyle-Burr can be reached at ndoyleburr@vnews.com or 603-727-3213.

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