SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

November 20, 2013

Hospice is changing its name

BY ETHAN FORMAN
STAFF WRITER

---- — DANVERS — Hospice of the North Shore and Greater Boston is changing its name.

The nonprofit has found that its rather long moniker does a poor job of describing what it does and where it does it.

A business expansion in 2011 tacked the words “and Greater Boston” onto the end of the name, making it unwieldy.

“We added five more syllables to Hospice of the North Shore,” said President and CEO Diane Stringer. “We find that even ‘North Shore and Greater Boston’ doesn’t effectively capture the area we service, since some people say, ‘I live in MetroWest.’”

The 35-year-old Danvers-based nonprofit is the state’s largest hospice provider. It grew by leaps and bounds when it acquired Partners Hospice in early 2011. Hospice of the North Shore and Greater Boston has 380 employees, seven full-time physicians and 400 volunteers. It cares for an average of 550 patients a day, most of them in their homes.

The organization’s service territory now encompasses more than 90 communities in eastern Massachusetts.

To better reflect its mission and broadened territory, as of Jan. 1, the organization will be known as Care Dimensions. An announcement of the name change took place yesterday at the Burlington Marriott.

Stringer said Care Dimensions signals that the organization’s care is both compassionate and multidimensional.

The decision by Hospice of the North Shore and Greater Boston to change its name is not unprecedented on the North Shore.

In 2009, North Shore Arc changed its name to Northeast Arc to better reflect a wider service area in helping people with disabilities. HAWC — Helping Abused Women and their Children — did, too, switching to Healing Abuse, Working for Change to better reflect its work for all victims of domestic abuse. In 2010, The Salem Mission, which serves the homeless, changed its name to Lifebridge, emphasizing its work helping clients to transition from one stage in their lives to another.

Stringer has been with Hospice of the North Shore for 25 years, and she said the name change was necessary so the organization could grow.

It was more than just removing geographic limitations, Stringer said.

“Hospice is certainly the core of what we do, but we do more,” she said. “The services we provide go beyond hospice. We do have and have had for 10 years now a palliative care consultation service that serves 200 patients a day. ... It’s really support for people who, for whatever reason, may not be quite ready for hospice. Hopefully, it’s earlier in the course of their illness.”

The organization also provides grief support services, and about half of those who use them did not have a hospice experience with a loved one. The group also educates health care providers about advanced care planning and support for caregivers.

“We really wanted to capture the breadth and the depth of what we offer,” she said.

To find a new name, the organization hired a consultant.

“I kind of joked I thought it was fairly simple: You pick a new name and you change the letterhead and the signs. But we came to appreciate that it is really more than that. It’s about our brand. How do our customers, whether that’s employees, patients, families, donors, health care providers, physicians in the community, how do they perceive us and what’s important to them?”

There is a lot of confusion within the marketplace, too, as people often confuse one hospice organization with another.

Hospice of the North Shore created the first licensed, inpatient hospice in the state, the 20-patient Kaplan Family Hospice House in Danvers, in 2005. Unrelated to the rebranding effort, the organization plans to develop a parcel it bought in Waltham and Lincoln to build another 20-bed hospice.

The old name won’t disappear immediately. The front of the new marketing brochure keeps this link with a line that says: “Founded in 1978 as Hospice of the North Shore.”

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Staff writer Ethan Forman can be reached at 978-338-2673, by email at eforman@salemnews.com or on Twitter at @DanverSalemNews.