St. Joseph becomes Trinity

Employees of the former St. Joseph Hospital in Augusta learned Friday what they had been waiting for months to hear: a new name with a familiar feel.

They now work for Trinity Hospital of Augusta. CEO James Cruickshank revealed the new moniker during a well-attended assembly for employees. The name and new logo will be formally introduced to the public during a ceremony Monday. It is just one of the big changes in recent months for Trinity.

The facility was purchased last year by a consortium of its physicians and Triad Hospitals Inc. of Plano, Texas. The St. Joseph name was not part of the sale, and the administration and physicians have been working on finding a new name over the past several weeks.

"I think it's a great transition," said Sister Clara Vincent, who has been at the hospital for 38 years and is one of three Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet still with the facility.

"The staff are very pleased we're retaining a faith-based name," said Chief Nursing Officer Elaine Timmerman, who has been there 31 years. One of the wings of the hospital is already called Trinity, she said.

The name was culled from at least a two-page, single-spaced list of suggestions, "everything from Hospital on the Hill to Summerville Community, you can almost imagine," Mr. Cruickshank said. "And probably every common religious name."

But Trinity was the top name choice among employees and the name the physician partners wanted most, Mr. Cruickshank said. It can both have secular connotations and appeal to other denominations, he said.

"But it's still seen as a religious symbol that people can identify with, employees can identify with, and physicians in the community, without getting so far afield that you lose touch with that," Mr. Cruickshank said.

There will still be morning and evening prayer and mass in the chapel, although other denominations are welcome, Sister Vincent said.

But there is also a new emphasis on technology, with $4.5 million in new capital expenditures that include a 64-slice CT scannner and new digital imaging and archiving. And that's just the beginning, Mr. Cruickshank said.

The hospital had struggled financially for many years and had not been able to put a lot into capital expenditures.

"We have expended a lot of capital dollars, which has been like Christmas for us," Mrs. Timmerman said.

But at the same time, they are keeping the touch the hospital is known for, Mr. Cruickshank said.

"I firmly believe that we are recognized for the best patient care in the Augusta community," he said. "We want to obviously maintain that standard as well as provide the technology."

The new name provides some reassurance for the staff that some things will not change, Mrs. Timmerman said.

"I think the name change does represent a new start for us but it does allow us to hold on to the faith-based (care)," she said. "To keep that identity, which I think is extremely important for us. We have a very committed loyal staff here. Many employees have been here a very long time, so tradition is very important."

Reach Tom Corwin at (706) 823-3213 or tom.corwin@augustachronicle.com.