Advocates ask Missouri to decertify hospital over name, trademark dispute

An advocacy organization is asking the Missouri Health Department to decertify accreditation of a three-bed urgent care center due to the facility's proposed name, The St. Louis American reported Sept. 15.

The not-yet-opened Homer G. Phillips Memorial Hospital is being scrutinized for using Mr. Phillips' name. A lawsuit filed by the Homer G. Phillips Nurses' Alumni group argues the name violates its trademark and developers appropriated the name to "trade on and profit from" the original hospital's name recognition.

A letter sent by Change the Name Coalition said, "Such a small and limited facility is an insult to the name Homer G. Phillips given that the name was originally associated with a 600-bed acute care hospital from 1937 to 1979," and to grant accreditation under that name "would be disrespectful to history and unfair to the Homer G. Phillips Nurses Alumni Inc."

The federal trademark infringement lawsuit, which was filed in July 2022, is set to start trial Jan. 8.

The original hospital was named after Mr. Phillips, an influential attorney who campaigned for the city to set aside money for a new hospital to serve Black communities. He was shot and died in 1931. Homer G. Phillips Hospital opened in 1937 and served Black residents during segregation as well as drew Black physicians and nurses. The hospital closed in 1979, and today the building is used for apartments for older adults. Some community members have argued that using the late civil rights leader's name for the new hospital is cultural appropriation.

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