published Thursday, March 17th, 2011

Children’s hospital drops ‘T.C. Thompson’ name

by Emily Bregel


Thomas Clarkson Thompson was elected mayor of Chattanooga in 1909 and again in 1911. He oversaw the creation of Warner Park.

After leaving office, he led the local Civitan Club’s push for a $250,000 bond issue to build a children’s hospital.

Six years after Thompson’s death in 1923, trustees voted to name the hospital in his honor.

T.C. Thompson Children’s Hospital has been rebranded as Children’s Hospital at Erlanger, although the Chattanooga mayor for whom it is named is still part of the “official name,” according to hospital leaders.

A recent blog post on Erlanger’s website explains that marketing materials now will refer to the new name, which hospital officials say better explains the hospital’s role in the Erlanger Health System and the region.

“It’s really to get the community and everybody who lives in the region to understand that there is a children’s hospital here and it is a real jewel for Chattanooga,” said Dr. Alan Kohrt, senior vice president for children’s services.

Since the hospital’s original name often is shortened to T.C. Thompson, “many people were not aware ‘T.C. Thompson’s’ is actually the region’s only children’s hospital,” according to the posting.

“T.C. Thompson will remain part of the official name of Children’s Hospital. However, to make sure everyone realizes that the facility is dedicated solely to the health care needs of infants, toddlers, adolescents and teens, a shorter, more descriptive term is now being used,” according to the post.

Hospital officials and descendants of T.C. Thompson agreed with the change, according to the posting.

Local real estate appraiser Ellen Norris, Thompson’s granddaughter, last year wrote the Chattanooga Times Free Press a letter expressing dismay at rumors that the hospital’s name would be changed.

After local media questioned Erlanger officials about the potential change, Norris said Erlanger President and CEO Jim Brexler called her to say the name would not be changed.

Norris declined to comment Wednesday on what hospital officials are calling the “unofficial” name change.

Kohrt said hospital leaders met multiple times with descendants about the branding change and in the process, learned a great deal about Thompson’s legacy.

“He was a fascinating character, a great human being,” he said.

A bust of Thompson has been moved to a prominent position in the pediatric emergency room waiting area, and hospital leaders are working on creating a history wall about his life, Kohrt said.

about Emily Bregel...

Health care reporter Emily Bregel has worked at the Chattanooga Times Free Press since July 2006. She previously covered banking and wrote for the Life section. Emily, a native of Baltimore, Md., earned a bachelor’s degree in American Studies from Columbia University. She received a first-place award for feature writing from the East Tennessee Society of Professional Journalists’ Golden Press Card Contest for a 2009 article about a boy with a congenital heart defect. She ...

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eastridge8 said...

One would think the Chattanooga Times Free Press could at least get Mr. Thompson's descendant's name correct. I believe her name is Elizabeth Norris.

March 17, 2011 at 4:32 p.m.
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