By Kevin Haas
Rock River Current
ROCKFORD — SwedishAmerican Hospital has changed its name to better reflect the merger it made with UW Health more than six years ago.
The decision announced Thursday was the culmination of years of planning and a unanimous decision by the hospital’s local board of directors, said Jeff Kaney, chairman of the board.
The new name, UW Health, is effective immediately and will eventually appear on all the hospital’s area clinics and the regional cancer center on North Bell School Road. The main hospital campus will keep part of its legacy name and be known as UW Health SwedishAmerican Hospital.
Keeping part of the legacy name on the main campus was a decision based on both data from surveys and emotion, Kaney said.
“It leaves a little bit of lingering roots in our community. Over 100 years in our community is quite a legacy,” he said.
The name change reflects the positive changes the health system has put in place since its merger with UW Health and the increased level of care, Kaney said. Since the merger, fewer patients have to travel to Madison, Wisconsin, for services or expertise not previously available here, he said.
“We’re a different health system than we were before. Our capabilities have grown so incredibly much. Our systems have become more robust,” Kaney said. “We’re getting world-class care here because of our merger with UW Health. That is on a path to become more and more robust, more and more improved as time goes on.”
The name change does not affect patients or SwedishAmerican’s roughly 3,700-plus employees.
SwedishAmerican announced plans to merge with UW Health in Madison, Wisconsin, in April 2014. The merger took effect in January 2015.
Several new specialty and academic relationships have already been formed in areas such as pediatrics, cardiology and cancer services, and UW Health anticipates these clinical integration efforts will continue to grow, the company said.
“Unifying our brand is about more than a name,” Dr. Alan Kaplan, CEO of UW Health, said in a news release. “It’s about bringing our people, assets, and expertise together to expand the remarkable care available to the people of northern Illinois and throughout our system of care.”
The name change will happen in phases. New signs with the red-and-blue UW Health moniker replacing Swedes’ purple logos and other rebranding efforts are expected to be completed over the course of the next year.