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Midwest health system adopts new name after merger

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After joining forces, Bellin Health and Gundersen Health System are now moving forward under a new brand: Emplify Health.

Two midwestern health systems now have a new brand, which required the creation of a new word.

Image: Emplify Health

Gundersen Health System and Bellin Health merged in late 2022, and they have now adopted a new identity for the merged organization: Emplify Health.

Bellin Health and Gundersen Health System are now moving forward under a new name for the merged organization: Emplify Health. The system said the new brand would be incorporated into the organization’s buildings over the next several months.

In December 2022, Bellin Health and Gundersen Health completed what they described as a “merger of equals." They combined to form an organization that operates 11 hospitals and more than 100 clinics serving patients in Wisconsin, Michigan, Minnesota and Iowa. The system is based in La Crosse, Wisconsin.

Scott Rathgaber, the organization’s CEO, said in a post online April 30 that “Emplify” is a combination of the words “empathy” and “amplify.”

“Emplify is a new word created to reflect a united goal of increasing access, creating a culture of empathy and enhancing population health outcomes for the patients and communities we serve,” Rathgaber said in the message.

Over time, the Emplify Health brand will appear on the names of all Bellin and Gundersen hospitals and clinics.

Rathgaber acknowledged that the new brand is likely going to require a period of adjustment. He said the organization would continue to reflect the values and heritage of Gundersen and Bellin, two organizations with roots dating back more than a century.

“We anticipate it will take several years to fully migrate to Emplify Health,” Rathgaber said online. “Do we expect everyone to immediately embrace this journey? Certainly not. But we will journey together. Change takes time. And we must honor our legacy names into the future.”

“By unifying under one brand, we align our teams and our resources to provide the best possible care and experience for our patients and community,” he said.

Both Bellin and Gundersen have been named after their founders for generations. Bellin Health’s origins date back to 1907, founder Julius Bellin, MD, opened a 15-bed general hospital in what had been a house, the system says. Adolf Gundersen opened a clinic in La Crosse in 1891 and was the first medical director of Lutheran Hospital, which later merged with Gundersen Clinic, and adopted the name Gundersen Health System in 2013.

The health system said some entities will retain their traditional names, including the Gundersen Medical Foundation and The Bellin Health Foundation. The system said donors can make contributions to the foundation of their choice. The foundations tied to other hospitals will also keep their identities, the system said.

Patients will be able to continue their same providers and visit the locations they have in the past, the system said.

The merger of the Bellin and Gundersen systems is just one of a number of consolidations of midwestern healthcare organizations over the past few years.

Froedtert Health and ThedaCare, both based in Wisconsin, finalized the merger of the two systems and joined force Jan. 1. Aspirus Health acquired seven Wisconsin hospitals from the Ascension system in 2021, and completed the acquisition of St. Luke’s in Duluth, Minnesota in March.

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