Carris Health changing name to CentraCare – West Central Tribune

 Carris Health changing name to CentraCare – West Central Tribune

WILLMAR – Carris Health has announced that it will change the name of CentraCare, starting June 1st.

Carris Health was created in 2018, a partnership of health care providers in Willmar, New London and Redwood Falls. It operates as a subsidiary of CentraCare with an emphasis on rural health care.

CentraCare is a nonprofit organization with hospitals in eight municipalities and more than 30 clinics, if Carris Health is included.


Cindy Firkins Smith

Contributed / CentraCare

The name change reflects a shared focus as Carris Health and CentraCare develop shared processes and strategies, including the creation of a Rural Health Division to be developed in 2021, according to a news release from at CentraCare.

“CentraCare and Carris Health are already connected through our common culture, purpose and mission,” Ken Holmen, president and CEO, said in the release. “Now, we can also be connected through a common name – CentraCare.”

Dr. Cindy Firkins Smith, senior vice president of rural health for CentraCare, said the partnership has helped providers provide their patients with “the right care, at the right time, in the right place.”

Smith is a former CEO of Affiliated Community Medical Centers, one of the clinics that partnered with other providers to form Carris Health. She is a dermatologist who has practiced in Willmar for 31 years.

When he was named CEO, he said, he was asked to “find and future” for ACMC. “Our ability to survive is limited,” he said.

The future is to work together to continue to serve patients, he said. In researching potential partners, he said, CentraCare stepped out of the field.

When Carris Health started, he didn’t expect the organizational structure to change again, but few people were expecting a pandemic, he said.

“COVID has changed our vision and our purpose,” he said.

During a pandemic, having that “active partnership” helped rural providers care for their patients. This gives Carris Health and CentraCare a larger base to care for their patients, he said.

Without the partnership, it would be more difficult for the Willmar medical community to care for as many COVID-19 patients as close to home as it does.

“It made sure we could take care of as many patients as we did,” he said, and it helped a lot of patients survive.

However, having separate entities with their own policies and procedures can be a barrier to collaboration.

The new Rural Health Division “is Carris of steroids,” Smith said, and its presence is a sign of CentraCare’s commitment to rural health care and its regional hospitals and clinics.

The public will begin seeing changes to signage, appointment reminders, email addresses and patient letters starting June 1. The transition to a name is expected to take about a year.

Smith said the name change is not expected to result in the loss of jobs at Willmar or other sites.

Another thing to know during a pandemic is that employees can be in different communities and still work together, he added.


Retrieved March 12, 2020. Erica Dischino / West Central Tribune

Erica Discino

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