When Legacy Health - the former Dirne Community Health Center - changed its name to Heritage Health on Monday, it was the second name-change for the organization in three weeks.
"It was a big egg-on-the-face moment for us in the community," said Heritage CEO Mike Baker.
Back on Sept. 9, Dirne held a news conference announcing a new logo and name: Legacy Health. Later that day, Oregon-based Legacy Health Systems threatened to file a lawsuit against the Coeur d'Alene health center on what Baker called a "perceived" trademark infringement.
"To get the news on that particular day was just devastating," he said. "We'd just had such a great response from the community - it had been a perfect day - and then we had to freeze everything for two weeks while we figured out what to do next."
At issue was the federal trademark search that Baker admitted he had failed to do.
"It was totally my responsibility," he said. "We were aware that you can trademark names, but we weren't aware that 'legacy' was a trademarked word, because there were so many others already in that realm. It was a complete surprise to us."
The community health center decided not to fight it in court because of the time and money involved in the litigation.
"At the end of the day, Legacy Health Systems has the term trademarked," Baker said. "We could take the hit on the nose now and stay focused on what's most important to us - providing the best patient care to anyone that needs it."
Baker said the cost of the most recent name change will be minimal. He estimated it to be approximately $2,000 for things such as sign changes.
When it came to the selection of its current name, Heritage hired a trademark attorney who researched the name and found out that it was available.
"Originally, 'Heritage' was our second choice after 'Legacy,'" Baker said. "We feel that both 'legacy' and 'heritage' have similar definitions."
In response to suggestions that Heritage change its name back to Dirne, Baker said that an initial reason for the name change and rebranding was to attract a more diverse group of patients. "There's a segment of the community that just won't come to us because of our old name. They're not homeless and they're not poor, and while our mission never changes, we need to reach out to that segment if we want to be able to keep our doors open."
Yes, the name has changed, Baker said, but the mission remains the same. "Our commitment to this community has not changed."