By Mark Hallum
The evolution of North Shore-LIJ Health System to Northwell Health has been years in the making. As the health system has grown through mergers and acquisitions, consumers, employees and affiliates have dealt with confusion over what to call the institution, which has many parts. But at the beginning of 2016, North Shore-LIJ officially emerged with a name that would resonate and form an identity to generate solidarity for the institution.
North Shore opened in 1953 on landed donated by publisher and ambassador John Jay Whitney in Manhasset, while Long Island Jewish was established by a group of philanthropists in 1949.
In 1992, the North Shore Health System was born. Since then it has grown into the 14th-largest health system in the nation with investment in clinical, educational and research enterprises. Northwell’s services include nursing facilities, rehabilitation programs, home care, hospice services, urgent care, primary care and specialty services on top of hospital care.
The real trouble began in 1997 when the merger of North Shore Health System and Long Island Jewish Medical Center led to the creation of North Shore-LIJ. This name change proved to be somewhat bewildering for clients and employees, many of whom were serving at different facilities that still went by their original name. Another issue facing the image of North Shore-LIJ was that the name was not recognized beyond New York City and Long Island. A new name was certainly in order.
“We started looking at changing the name of the system eight years ago. People had trouble remembering the exact name of the system,” said chief spokesman Terry Lynam , who pointed out that only two of the 21 hospitals within the system reflected the North Shore-LIJ name.
Finding a new name would be no easy task, however. Northwell has more than 100 members on its board of directors and, according to Lynam, each takes pride in how far the health system has come over the years. Reaching a consensus and avoiding trademark issues were obstacles on the road to rebranding.
Lynam said the name represents the origins of the health system by retaining the “North” in North Shore, while having a metaphorical basis.
“It is a tip of the hat to the original name. North also reflects that we aim to guide people to better health,” hence the “well,” according to Lynam.
But the Long Island Jewish name is not gone forever. The name has recently been added to the Forest Hills Hospital and Valley Stream Hospital in Franklin, L.I.
The care provided by Northwell, as well as it name, continues to evolve with times.
The different components of the Northwell system consist of in-patient and out-patient care, pediatric care at Cohen Children’s Hospital in New Hyde Park and treatment at Zucker Hillside Hospital in Glen Oaks for behavioral health. GoHealth Urgent Care at 102-29 Queens Blvd. in Forest Hills is one component of the system that offers services covering everyday illness, injury and lab work
While Queens remains a major focus for the health care provider, demand has shifted from inpatient to outpatient care.
According to Lynam, recruiting from Queens and treating the borough’s diverse population is an important facet for creating a valuable service as Northwell moves into the future.
Reach reporter Mark Hallum by e-mail at mhall