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KWWL Special Report: What’s behind the name?

WATERLOO, Iowa (KWWL) – Wheaton Franciscan Healthcare underwent a name change to become MercyOne, and it’s bringing patients and staff together as one.

MercyOne is the largest healthcare system in Iowa. This name change affects multiple states in the Midwest.

When people visit Walmart, consumers know what product and service they are receiving. This also pertains to how healthcare provides their services. The big question, what comes with the name MercyOne?

The re-branded company’s positioning statement says, “MercyOne will set the standard for a personalized and radically convenient system of health services.”

President and CEO, Bob Ritz, toured the sites of MercyOne all over the state of Iowa to start the name change.

“Setting the standard is we always want to be first, that’s our goal,” said Ritz. “The personalization really combines our history, presence and our future. Our hospitals were designed to take care of people when they needed it the most, and we like to do so in a very personalized way.”

Ritz says the name change is part of a long, on-going process following the 1998 merger of Catholic Health Initiatives and Trinity Health forming Mercy Health Network.

Wheaton Franciscan joined Mercy Health Network in 2016.

In a move for change, Ritz promises one thing will remain constant for patients and staff, the meaning of the word care.

“Caring is not a word we use just to describe the field we are in,” said Ritz. “The expression of people’s passion for that person in that time, and that can be for the co-worker or that could be the person on the phone.”

The 2019 Iowa Hospital Association Economic Impact report says MercyOne made nearly a $250 million economic impact to the Cedar Valley.

“Community hospitals do create an enormous impact across the state,” says Iowa Hospital Association Senior Vice President Becky Anthony. “Through providing jobs and they also create jobs by purchasing goods and services through other businesses. So they are really essential to local and statewide economic development. ”

The economic report from IHA says MercyOne has an impact of $385 million between five counties in the KWWL viewing area. UnityPoint has nearly $554 million economic impact between four counties.

“When people think of their hospitals they think of the health care services,” says Anthony. “The type of services that companies that may want to relocate or expand really want access to high quality health care services. ”

We also wanted to know what people thought and felt about the name change. We received these responses:

“What we all need is a health care system that we all have faith in and works.”

“As long as the doctors are still there I really wouldn’t care if they changed their name.”

One woman who was a MercyOne patient says her primary concern is over the reproductive services policy put in place before the re-branding. Wheaton announced it would no longer perform vasectomies or tubal ligations.

“I don’t think the name change is anything to be afraid of, I think its the deeper policies we need to look at,” says Chrissy Weir. “The practices that nurses and doctors are willing to do or not do.”

Vinny Lowerre

Producer & Multimedia Journalist

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