Lawrence Memorial Hospital to get a new name; hospital has revenues exceed expenses by 8 million in 2017

photo by: Lawrence Memorial Hospital

LMH Health logo

Get ready for Lawrence Memorial Hospital to begin calling itself by a new name: LMH Health.

The hospital’s board of trustees on Wednesday morning approved changing the brand name of the hospital. The board followed a recommendation from its marketing professionals and an advisory group that said the Lawrence Memorial Hospital brand name does not communicate that the organization has health care practices that stretch far beyond the hospital building itself.

Janice Early, LMH’s vice president of marketing and communication, said many hospital companies have started dropping the word “hospital” from their names.

“That migration away from the word ‘hospital’ really began in our area aroud 2012 because hospitals have expanded beyond the hospital’s walls,” Early said.

LMH does about 75 percent of its business through outpatient services. While some of those outpatient services are performed at the hospital campus at Second and Maine streets, much of it is done in clinics and doctor’s offices spread all over Lawrence, and sometimes in other communities such as Baldwin City, Eudora or Tongaonoxie. For that reason, Early said, group members recommended the hospital’s brand name shouldn’t emphasize Lawrence but rather the initials LMH.

“Whether you are brand new to town or not, it doesn’t take people very long to start calling us LMH,” Early said. “That is what most people call us.”

Still, Early said the group did not take lightly the idea of moving away from the Lawrence Memorial Hospital name, noting that it had called itself by the name for almost 100 years.

Technically, the hospital company’s legal name will remain Lawrence Memorial Hospital because LMH’s attorney said it would be too large of a task to change all the contracts and other legal documents that refer to Lawrence Memorial Hospital.

But everywhere else, expect to see the new LMH Health name later this year, which will mean a boon for sign companies, letterhead printers and other such companies.

Board members approved the new name and accompanying logo with one objection. Board member Mike Wildgen, a former Lawrence city manager, voted against the name change, but not because it lacked the name Lawrence. (Technically, the nonprofit hospital is owned by the city of Lawrence.) Wildgen opposed the name change because he didn’t like the chartreuse color that is used as part of the logo. You can see a picture of the new logo below.

As for when the name change will happen, that is a bit uncertain. Early said it likely would be in June or July when the hospital breaks ground on its approximately $90 million outpatient medical building near Rock Chalk Park in northwest Lawrence. Early said LMH wanted to incorporate the name change in the celebration that is planned for the groundbreaking.

There is news on the LMH West project. Hospital leaders previously had said they planned to break ground on June 1. But delays in getting the project approved by Lawrence City Hall has pushed a groundbreaking into late June or even into July.

Karen Shumate, LMH’s chief operating officer, told trustees that the hospital and the city’s planning staff were disagreeing over projected traffic levels the new 200,000 square-foot medical facility would produce. The city is contending traffic levels will be higher than what the hospital has submitted as part of a traffic study.

“The city is having trouble accepting our numbers,” Shumate said. “Our numbers are accurate. We are at a bit of an impasse on that point.”

The issue caused the project to not be considered as part of the April meeting of the Lawrence-Douglas County Planning Commission. The hospital now hopes the project will be approved at the May meeting of the Planning Commission, which would put the project on track for a June or July groundbreaking.

As a reminder, the building is proposed to be LMH’s largest outpatient medical center. It would include space for OrthoKansas, the Lawrence Surgery Center, multiple doctor’s offices, a retail pharmacy, the LMH Breast Center and several other specialty medical providers.

Part of the space would be leased to medical companies that aren’t affiliated with LMH. Board members briefly discussed the possibility that the 200,000 square-foot project could be expanded by about 40,000 square feet, if early efforts show that the available space is leasing quickly. No decision was made on the idea of expanding the project, which would come with an estimated price tag of about $5 million.

The hospital did learn that it has received a strong bond rating as part of its process for financing the LMH West project. Standard & Poor’s gave the hospital an A rating with a stable outlook, which is one of the higher ratings the company offers. It puts LMH in about the top 15 percent of hospitals rated by Standard & Poor’s, according to information provided by the hospital’s bond adviser.

LMH trustees also received a report from LMH’s auditing firm. The hospital was given a clean financial audit with no major deficiencies. The audit also confirmed what the hospital previously had reported: 2017 was a strong financial year for LMH.

The audit found LMH had revenues over expenses of $18 million, making it one of the better years on record for the hospital. In 2017, LMH had revenues over expenses of $16.5 million. As a nonprofit, LMH doesn’t book a profit but rather re-invests excess revenues back into the business.

The audit also found that LMH’s cash position also was positive in 2017. LMH finished the year with about $43 million in cash and cash equivalents, up from about $39 million at the beginning of the year. LMH in 2016 had seen its cash position drop significantly as it retired large amounts of debt. LMH at the end of 2017 had about $7.7 million in debt as it prepares to issue up to $77 million in bonds to finance the LMH West project.