Saint Mary's Is Rebranding Itself

September 10, 2004
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GRAND RAPIDS — After nearly five years of work to restore financial health and build up clinical capabilities, the newly named Saint Mary's Health Care this week embarks on a major advertising campaign designed to build greater awareness and a brand identity within the West Michigan health-care market.

With technological upgrades, recent additions of medical specialists and ambitious building projects, Saint Mary's President and Chief Executive Officer Phil McCorkle believes the time is now for the health system to take a higher profile and do much more to tout its medical services. The days of being the "quiet" hospital in Grand Rapids are over, McCorkle said.

"We're really enjoying a lot of success and a lot of good things are going on," said McCorkle, who joined Saint Mary's nearly five years ago as CEO at a time when the health system was struggling financially.

"People do have to find out about us because if they don't know, they won't come," he said.

The ad campaign that launches this week, designed by Stevens Advertising of Grand Rapids and following the theme "Expect Something More," is designed to combine Saint Mary's reputation as a provider of compassionate care with clinical capabilities and expertise that extensive market research shows people do not generally associate with the health system. Using print, radio, TV, outdoor and Internet advertising, Saint Mary's Health Care's initial goal is "clarifying who we are" and showcasing medical services, McCorkle said.

By raising its profile, Saint Mary's can generate increased business from across a broader market, including across Michigan and from throughout the Midwest, particularly in the specialty medical services of cancer treatment, neurosciences and orthopedics.

"We want greater referrals," McCorkle said. "We do feel we have our own brand of care model that patients will find very attractive."

In raising its profile in the market, Saint Mary's will look to come out from the shadow of Spectrum Health, the market leader for health care in KentCounty that has been building up its tertiary care network. Spectrum Health will open a new $137 million heart hospital in late November — the MeijerHeartCenter — and is planning to develop children's and cancer hospitals in the coming years.

This fall Saint Mary's Health Care opens its own cancer center — the $42 million Lacks Cancer Center — and is planning for a new $15 million neurosciences center.

The new identity and ad campaign follow two years of strategic planning and extensive market research that found Saint Mary's is often overlooked for specialized care.

"It wasn't a matter of 'I don't want to go there.' It's a matter of, 'Gee, I didn't know,'" Saint Mary's Marketing Manager Tara Geror said. "We are a large community network. It's just a matter of telling people."

Part of Southfield-based Trinity Health, the fifth-largest Catholic health-care system in the United States, Saint Mary's Health Care includes the 324-bed hospital in Grand Rapids, two health clubs, four health centers and 13 Advantage Health physician offices that have more then 80 providers in family practice, internal medicine, obstetrics and gynecology. The health system employs more than 2,500 employees and recorded net revenues of $289 million in the 2003 fiscal year.    

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