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UPDATE: Veterans, County Leaders Not Happy With PCMH Name Change

The largest hospital in the east is changing its name and that's upsetting to some county officials and veterans, who say they feel slighted for different reasons.

In less than two months, signs at Pitt County Memorial Hospital will begin changing to UHS Medical Center, as the hospital begins branding itself with University Health Systems of Eastern Carolina, soon to become University Health System.

"Medical center is a term that's used across the country for referral and teaching hospitals like this one, this flagship hospital, and UHS is an obvious logical brand attachment to that," said Dave McRae, UHS CEO.

Not everyone is excited. County commissioner Eugene James says Pitt county taxpayers helped build the hospital before it became a not-for-profit in 1998, and says the county's name should be included in the new name for that reason. County manager Scott Elliott says he was disappointed at first.

"If it takes that to ensure continued growth in jobs and economic success- obviously they're one of the major economic engines here in Pitt county and we'll continue to support them," said Elliott.

Some local veterans are upset that the word "memorial" is being left out, saying it was to honor World War II vets.

"We're the ones that put our lives on the line for our way of life, our constitution, and bill of rights, and to dishonor veterans to me is un-American," said Harry F. Kelly, III.

McRae says he understands the hospital has a lot of history, and plans to honor that history, along with the county's name, and veterans as well. He says the signs over the door will change right away. but says business cards and other supplies will transition once they run out.

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There's a name change for the largest hospital in Eastern Carolina.

Pitt County Memorial Hospital will become UHS Medical Center.

The hospital says it wants to clearly align itself with the health system and reflect its role as the region's only teaching hospital and Level 1 trauma center. The hospital was named Pitt County Memorial in 1949 and named for World War II veterans. Before that is was called Pitt Community Hospital.

The hospital's parent organization, University Health Systems of Eastern Carolina, will shorten its name to University Health Systems.

The hospital says that close to 60 percent of PCMH patients are from outside of Pitt County.

County Manager Scott Elliot says he heard there has been talk of a name change, but they had not been told anything official yet. He said the name change is strictly a hospital board decision, and the county does not have to give its approval. The change takes effect October 1st.

"We are continually assessing how we can better serve the people and communities of eastern North Carolina," said Dave McRae, CEO of UHS. "We want to simplify our name and our system naming structure to communicate directly and plainly who we are, what we offer and the value we bring to the communities we serve."

"As a proud Pitt County native, I've watched PCMH grow from being a small, community hospital to being an excellent medical center that cares for our community and all of eastern North Carolina," said Steve Lawler, president, PCMH. "We feel that renaming PCMH to UHS Medical Center will help our continued growth and with recruitment of specialists, sub-specialists and medical students to Greenville and the Brody School of Medicine at East Carolina University," said Lawler.

Plans are being developed to honor the great history PCMH has in the community. The name "Pitt County Memorial Hospital" dates to the 1950s, when the first PCMH was built on West Fifth Street. That facility now houses Pitt County offices.

"The heritage of PCMH is important to the citizens of the area and all of us at UHS. We will commemorate its heritage in meaningful, visible and lasting ways within our campus," said Lawler.


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