Truman Med Centers Is Now University Health

Truman Medical Centers, a legacy health-care system with roots that go back more than 150 years, opened a new chapter in that history this morning by announcing that it would rebrand as University Health.

In a video presentation that included health-care providers, public-sector officials, medical educators and others, CEO Charlie Shields explained the rationale for the move, saying it better-reflected the system’s current role as an academic medical center.

“This has been a long time coming,” he said. “As of today, Kansas City’s essential hospital will be known as University Health. The reason is simple; University Health reflects our status as a premier medical center in the region. For patients, it means our providers offer high-quality, research-based academic medical care for all.”

And for the two-hospital system, with campuses Downtown and in southeast Kansas City, he said, “our new name comes at a time of unprecedented growth for this hospital,” including a new primary and women’s care facilities, new private patient rooms and a new neonatal intensive-care unit that will open soon.

Nelson Sabates, chair of the ophthalmology department, also said the rebranding better reflected the organization’s role today. “This is not the same hospital it was 20 years ago, 15 years ago, even 10 years ago,” Sabates said, Mark Steele, executive chief clinical officer, echoed that, saying, “it’s important that our name reflect our mission of providing academic medicine for all.”

The hospital was founded in 1870 and for decades operated as General Hospital, and was among but a handful of hospitals nationwide offering free care for the poor. Some of that mission continues today, as the system handles a large volume of under-insured or uninsured patients who are among the poorest in the region. The UH tie also reflects the organization’s ties to schools of medicine, nursing, pharmacy and dentistry through the University of Missouri-Kansas City, where many of the physicians at UH are also on the medical-school faculty.

You can watch University Health’s announcement here.