WESTMINSTER — The words "Carroll County General Hospital" roll off John A. Gambatese's tongue pretty easily, he said, so he isn't particularly anxious to change the name of the place.
But since at least one fellow board member is anxious, Gambatese -- president of Carroll County HealthServices, the parent corporation of the hospital -- will create an ad-hoc committee to consider a new moniker during the hospital's 30th year.
At the hospital's September board meeting, member Atlee Wampler came up with the idea to change the name. Wampler's preference is for Carroll Memorial Hospital, to honor World War II veterans.
But that name is only one possibility, said Gambatese.
"It's not something we're going to make a snap decision on," Gambatese said. If the name is changed, it would be only after different groups within the hospital have some input, he said.
"And if the public has an idea, we'd consider that, also," said Gambatese.
Wampler was out of town and could not be reached for comment.
Gambatese said about 60 percent of the corporation board's 139 members seem to be taking a wait-and-see attitude toward Wampler's proposal. The other 40 percent seemed split on a name change.
William Gavin, president of the Carroll County General Hospital Board, said he, like Gambatese, is keeping an open mind.
The hospital is a private, non-profit corporation, unrelated to county government. But Gavin said some board members have commented that the hospital's name makes it appear to be owned by the county government. If that perception exists, Gavin said, people may think the hospital is supported by tax dollars and doesn't need community donations.
"I'm not sure how pervasive that misconception is oris not," Gavin said.
Gambatese said he doubts it is pervasive.
Gambatese also said the change could be as simple as dropping the word "county." And, an argument for removing "Carroll" is that the hospital is not just for county residents, he said.
About 15 percent of the hospital's in-patients come from outside the county, said LindaHarder, vice president for marketing and planning. Such areas include Frederick County, Reisterstown in Baltimore County and southern Pennsylvania.
Harder said that Executive Vice President Charles Graf has suggested changing the hospital's name before. But Graf also has said there are reasons to keep it, said Harder.
"The hospital has excellent name-recognition, and it reflects that (in) that 85 percentof the patients are from Carroll County," Harder said.
She said changing the name on such things as stationery, forms, signs and maps would involve a lot of time and money.
"There are some other things that might merit greater priority," Harder said, such as informing the community about the hospital's expanding services. Such a campaign might be diluted by a name-change promotion, she said.
Richard Wade, spokesman for the Maryland Hospital Association, said several hospitals in the state still carry the name of the county in which they're located, even though none of them are run by that county's government.
Usually, name changes reflect an increase in services as well as a distinction from government affiliation. Prince George's County Hospital is now Prince George's Hospital Center.
But others haveretained the word "county," such as Washington County Hospital, Baltimore County General Hospital, Howard County General Hospital and Garrett County Memorial Hospital.
Others use just the county's name, such as Dorchester General Hospital, Frederick Memorial Hospital and Harford Memorial Hospital.
The "memorial" part of the name usually comes from fund drives to start hospitals, Wade said. Making the place amemorial to some cause or group helped spark donations, he said.
Wade said that with the expansion of services at CCGH, a name change might be appropriate. Anne Arundel Medical Center used to be Anne Arundel General Hospital before expanding its services, he said.
"The word 'hospital' implies patients in beds," Wade said. But hospitals are now offering a lot of outpatient care and services that are better described by "medical center."
"The name is subtle, but significant for telling the community we do more than just take care of that patient in bed," Wade said.