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Former Nurses of Historic Black Hospital Sue to Honor Title

Former Nurses of Historic Black Hospital Sue to Honor Title

A coaching facility for Black docs and nurses in St. Louis, Missouri, which was the one public hospital for Black group from the late Thirties by way of the mid-Fifties, has been on the heart of many contentious group protests through the years and is dealing with one other.

A federal lawsuit was filed not too long ago by the nurses’ alumni of Homer G. Phillips Hospital in opposition to a St. Louis developer who’s utilizing the hospital’s identify for a small for-profit pressing care well being facility.

Homer G. Phillips was a St. Louis legal professional and civic chief who joined with different Black leaders in 1922 to realize cash for a hospital that may serve the Black group, in accordance with on-line sources. He did not stay to see the hospital named in his honor accomplished in 1937.

The Homer G. Phillips Nurses’ Alumni, Inc., claims that the identify of the brand new well being heart, doing enterprise as Homer G. Phillips Hospital, infringes on the alumni group’s trademark. The previous Homer G. Phillips Hospital closed in 1979 regardless of the group’s outcry at the moment, in accordance with The Missouri Unbiased. The constructing sat vacant for a few years earlier than being transformed right into a senior heart, Yvonne Jones, alumni president, advised Medscape Medical Information.

She stated of the brand new well being heart, which hasn’t opened but, “We’re not in opposition to the power; we need to shield the identify and legacy” of the unique hospital, which stays on the coronary heart of the historic St. Louis Black group.

At press time, the developer and his attorneys had not returned Medscape’s request for remark.

Having a brand new heart with the identify of the long-lasting hospital would imply that “the goodwill and the pleasure it represents has been usurped,” stated Zenobia Thompson, who served as head nurse of Homer G. Phillips and is now the co-chair of the Change the Title Coalition. It shaped final 12 months after Thompson and others observed an indication posted on the web site of the brand new well being heart that lists it because the Homer G. Phillips Hospital, with a trademark image that the nurses say it does not have a proper to.

The coalition, which meets weekly, sponsored a petition and has been protesting on the web site of the brand new heart twice a month, Thompson stated.

“We wrote a letter to [developer] Paul McKee that the legacy not be trivialized for industrial causes,” Thompson stated.

Richard Voytas, legal professional for the alumni group, advised Medscape that the developer didn’t ask permission from the nurses to make use of the trademark and he did not know if the nurses will grant that permission now. “In the event that they [the developers] use the identify, it is extremely vital that they honor the Homer G. Phillips legacy,” Voytas stated.

Honoring a Legacy or Taking Benefit of a Title?

In her new e-book, Climbing the Ladder, Chasing the Dream: A Historical past of Homer G. Phillips Hospital, creator Candace O’Connor cites the significance of the hospital’s heritage.

“A number of nurses got here from rural, impoverished backgrounds and went on to get jobs all throughout the nation,” O’Connor wrote within the e-book. “As a result of all you needed to do was say, ‘I am from Homer Phillips,’ and they’d say ‘you are employed.’ It did not simply change the nurse. It created alternatives for complete households.”

The realm the place the hospital stays as soon as boasted a grocery retailer, highschool, faculty, ice cream store, and famend Black church buildings, a few of which nonetheless exist as historic websites. “They constructed up the realm for Blacks who could not go anyplace else,” Jones stated.

Within the swimsuit, the alumni group describes itself as a 100-year-old philanthropic group that introduced healthcare to St. Louis’ traditionally underserved Black group and stays very energetic within the space immediately in fundraising and group outreach efforts. The group has been combating with the builders since studying in 2019 concerning the proposed use of the identify that’s “confusingly comparable” to the trademark and instantly voiced its objections through lawsuit, demanding that one other identify be chosen, stating:

“…in its identify and efforts to market its for-profit pressing care facility instantly inside plaintiff’s major market to straight compete with plaintiff for identify recognition and goodwill, solely will increase the chance of client confusion and, upon data and perception, represents an effort by defendants’ to cross off their services and products as these provided by plaintiff and its members.”

“Defendants acknowledged function in utilizing the mark, or a phrase confusingly just like the mark, for its identify is to ‘honor’ the identify of Homer G. Phillips and to ’emulate his spirit andtenacity in serving the well being care wants of North St. Louis,'” the swimsuit continues.

The St. Louis Board of Aldermen handed a decision in December calling using the identify for the brand new well being heart an “inappropriate cultural appropriation.” Mayor Tishaura Jones and Congresswoman Cori Bush adopted that with a joint assertion: “Profiting off of Homer G. Phillips’ identify on a small 3-bed facility that can fail to fulfill the wants of essentially the most susceptible in our communities is an insult to Homer G. Phillips’ legacy and the Black group.”

The alumni group is requesting a jury trial and damages to be decided at trial, 3 times the defendant’s earnings or plaintiffs’ damages, whichever is bigger, together with attorneys’ charges and curiosity.

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