Northeast Health, St. Peter’s Health Care Services and Seton Health Announce Name for New Merged Health System

The new health system that will be created by the merger of Northeast Health, St. Peter’s Health Care Services and Seton Health now has a name — a name that is already well-known and trusted.

After an intensive 18-month process, officials of the three merging organizations announced today the new system will be named “St. Peter’s Health Partners.” Along with the name, officials unveiled the new corporate graphic identity and symbol that will visually link each part of the organization.

The announcement was made at a press briefing today that included: Steven Boyle, president, CEO, St. Peter’s Health Care Services; James Reed, MD, president & CEO, Northeast Health; and Scott St. George, interim president/CEO, Seton Health.

Officials also announced that the names of all four acute care hospitals in the new system – St. Peter’s, Albany Memorial, Samaritan and St. Mary’s, as well as Sunnyview Rehabilitation Hospital – will be retained as part of the new system identity. Certain other entities that are key parts of the merged organization will become strong “sub-brands” of the new system including The Eddy, a recognized and highly regarded name in senior services; Community Hospice; and the system’s five charitable foundations. Most departments, programs and services in the current health systems will keep their current names, but will incorporate the new graphic identification system.

The merger to create St. Peter’s Health Partners will be finalized late this summer. The officials said that work has begun to prepare the legal and financial documents necessary to complete the transaction. While the new organization will be formed and begin actual operation later this year, full integration may take approximately three years. The new name will not be used by the three existing organizations until the new organization begins operation.

The name and overall branding for the new system was approved by the governing boards of all three organizations late last month. The selection of the name follows an 2 in-depth “System Identity Process.” This process utilized a fact-based, market-driven methodology to determine a brand for the new organization that would be instantly recognizable to the communities the system will serve, and best position the new system to operate in a highly competitive, unpredictable and rapidly changing healthcare marketplace.

A key part of the System Identity Process was a thorough examination of consumer and physician perceptions of all health care providers in the region, and the strength of those providers throughout the six-county Capital Region. In-depth market research and analysis conducted during the process showed that the “St. Peter’s” name was the most powerful and recognizable health care brand in the region. “St. Peter’s” is also respected for quality and compassionate care. These attributes are shared by all three systems today and will be key attributes in the new system.

Other parts of the new organization showed significant strength among consumers in the region including Sunnyview Rehabilitation Hospital and The Eddy. Samaritan, Albany Memorial and St. Mary’s hospitals also have strong loyalty among patients in their primary service areas. St. Peter’s, however, was the strongest overall name in the health care industry throughout the six-county region that will be the new system’s primary service area.

Based on the research, it was determined that the strength of the “St. Peter’s” name was a substantial brand asset that will support the new system’s vision of providing a far-reaching community with a broad array of services.

To complete the new name and better describe the new system, two other words were added – “health” and “partners.” The meaning of these words in the name is significant:

  • Health represents a system designed to provide quality, compassionate care across the spectrum, from the beginning of life through adult medical and residential services; and
  • Partners has several meanings. First, it describes the three partners in the new system. It also represents future opportunities where the new system may partner with other providers, payors, physicians, and other organizations to serve the community. It also describes the system’s relationship with patients and residents – partnering for health and life.

Also in the new corporate identification system, one new logo design will replace those currently used by each of the merging organizations. The symbol features the outline of three intersecting and open elements – representing the three merging organizations – that join together to create a shield. The three shapes intertwine in the middle. The new symbol appears in a rich, deep red.

This new company will be a member of Catholic Health East, the current parent corporation of St. Peter’s Health Care Services, and will abide by the Ethical and Religious Directives of the Catholic Church. However, the new company, St. Peter’s Health Partners, will not be a Catholic entity. Organizations that are currently part of St. Peter’s Health Care 3 Services and Seton Health will retain their Catholic identities. Organizations that are currently affiliated with Northeast Health will remain secular.

Steven P. Boyle, president and CEO of St. Peter’s Health Care Services, said that “improving accessibility to health care is a major goal of the new health system. Creating a unified identity for the system is critical to building awareness for those seeking quality care at every stage of life. The ability to easily recognize organizations that are part of the new St. Peter’s Health Partners system of care and to appreciate the scale and scope of the new system will foster improved access among the public, referring physicians and other providers, and even among our staff.”

Boyle said that the new name should in no way suggest the new system is an expansion of the St. Peter’s system. “We are talking about a fundamentally different organization where our partners – Northeast Health and Seton Health – are bringing resources to the organization that will create a “new and unique” St. Peter’s with the broadest array of services of any system in upstate New York.”

James Reed, MD, president & CEO, Northeast Health, said “We learned through the process the enormous challenge that faced us … to identify a name that truly represents the uniqueness of our new system. It was especially rewarding to see the results of the extensive physician and consumer research that was conducted as part of that process. The research clearly documented the strong image, reputation and loyalty each of our organizations enjoy, as well as the very positive attitude people have about the merger.”

Dr. Reed added, “Once we looked at the research, however, it became clear that building on the strength of the existing St. Peter’s name was the right direction to take, particularly because it is very strong throughout the entire six-county area that will be our new system’s primary service area. Likewise, preserving the significant strength of The Eddy — a name synonymous with high quality senior care — will help to further define the breadth and scope of services that our new system will provide to residents of the Capital Region and beyond.”

Scott St. George, interim president/CEO, Seton Health, said “Together our three organizations will create a health system built on the strengths of our legacies and, at the same time, positioned to quickly move forward with innovation and creativity. It is important to choose a name that tells the community what they can expect from our new organization.”

St. George added, “We chose St Peter’s as the foundation of the name because it is clear that the community knows and respects the St. Peter’s brand for the high quality, compassionate care they provide. However, the new organization will be defined by the partnership of three organizations with diverse capabilities coming together to pursue a common mission and vision. It will be defined by our associates and physicians who provide dedicated care to our patients every day. And it will be defined by our commitment to take what we each do best and create a care system that truly responds to the needs of our community.”

Implementation of the New Brand

Officials emphasized that today’s announcement of the name was a response to significant interest in the community and within the organization regarding the name of the new organization. With the decision on the name completed, work on a detailed Brand Implementation Plan will now begin.

Although an actual “roll-out” of the new brand will likely occur in early 2012, certain parts of the new organization may begin using the new name and graphic system on the first day of operation later this year.

Full implementation will incorporate the new name on signage, advertising, corporate website, stationery, employees’ badges, facility signs, vehicles, publications, bills, forms, checks, etc. – everywhere that Northeast Health, St. Peter’s Health Care Services and Seton Health are being used. Like the system design, full implementation of the new brand will take two to three years.

An Extensive Research Process

The process used to determine the name of the new System was very intensive. The stated goal of the process was to “present the boards of the organizations with a research-based recommendation for a new brand strategy, identity and architecture, and brand migration plan that will allow them to fulfill their fiduciary responsibility in making long-term strategic decisions for the new organization.”

Brand Equity, a Boston firm that specializes in corporate branding, was retained as well as HealthStream Research, a Columbia, Maryland, firm that specializes in research for the health care industry.

The System Identity Process was designed to review and analyze names for the new organization as valuable assets, in much the same way the organizations had examined the value of all existing facilities, programs and services in developing the System Design plan that was released last year.

The process began with “Qualitative Research” or individual interviews with more than 75 key people within the three organizations including Board and Foundation leadership, corporate management, staff and physicians. Many community leaders from the Capital Region were also interviewed.

The process then entered the “Quantitative Research” phase where consumers and physicians in the region responded to an extensive market survey. The purpose of the survey was to determine community perceptions of existing hospital and other health resources to support the naming, branding and marketing of the new merged entity.

More than 1,200 residents of Albany, Rensselaer, Columbia, Greene, Schenectady and Saratoga counties participated in a telephone survey. Data obtained from the surveys was viewed for the overall six-county area and segmented by service areas and county.

The surveys looked at various means of measuring a hospital’s “Brand Equity” or strengths. These factors included: top-of-mind awareness, image and reputation, hospital 5 preferred most overall, hospital last-used, and the overall rating for the hospital an individual last used (loyalty). The surveys also looked at image and reputation for The Eddy.

Among other key findings of the research were:

  • St. Peter’s is very strong throughout the six-county region. St. Peter’s has the highest rating for image and reputation, is the most preferred and most used facility in the region, and has the highest past patient experience ratings.
  • The Eddy senior services, Sunnyview Rehabilitation Hospital, St. Peter’s Hospital and St. Peter’s Health Care Services were all rated among the top five health care organizations in the region for overall image and reputation.
  • Samaritan, St. Mary’s and Albany Memorial hospitals had significant loyalty scores from patients who lived in their primary service areas.
  • In addition to scoring highest in clinical quality, St. Peter’s was a leader in the region in preference for certain service lines within the hospital including cancer treatment, women’s healthcare, cardiac services and orthopedic services.
  • In both the qualitative and quantitative research there were significant positive attitudes toward the merger.

With nearly 12,000 employees in more than 125 locations, the three systems currently provide a wide array of services to thousands of people each day. These services include: St. Peter’s Hospital’s state-of-the-art tertiary care services, its Community Hospice, home care, addiction recovery center, and two skilled nursing facilities; and Northeast’s Albany Memorial and Samaritan hospitals, and Sunnyview Rehabilitation Hospital. It also includes The Eddy’s renowned eldercare services including skilled nursing, Alzheimer’s, adult day services, home care and community services, and retirement and assisted living. Seton adds St. Mary’s Hospital, a skilled nursing facility, 14 physician office locations and an array of specialty services.

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