Pueblo County, Colorado
Colorado Insane Asylum
A New Name
New, complicated name at state hospital. . . mental health institute
By DENNIS DARROW
The Pueblo Chieftain Saturday June 15, 1991
For 11 years, switchboard operator Phyllis Bonewell could rattle off the name of her employer at the sound of a buzzer.
Now she must keep a written note reminding her of the title.
This week, after more than 83 years of operating under the name Colorado State Hospital, the state's largest public psychiatric center officially made the switch to its new handle. It's a mouthful.
"It takes a while to kind of get in the rhythm" of saying Colorado Mental Health Institute at Pueblo, admits Mrs. Bonewell, supervisor of the switchboard staff. "We still stumble." As do callers also stumble, some of whom hang up upon hearing the new name.
"They call right back and say, 'Is this the state hospital?' "
The transition will be slow, because the hospital, to save money, will not change signs or any other property until the items wear out.
One employee who wonders whether the name change will ever stick, Dr. Eric Whyte, the hospital's chief of psychiatry, recalled his experience working at the state hospital in Bangor, Maine:
"All the patients who came in still referred to it as Bangor State Hospital," even though 20 years had passed since the hospital had changed its name to Bangor Mental Health Institute, he said.
"It's old hat," nutritional service assistant director Mary Lou Millbern said of the name Colorado State Hospital. ``It's going to be hard to remember the change. But it does cover the broad spectrum of what the hospital does."
The hospital, and the smaller state hospital at Fort Logan, wanted their names replaced with more modern titles that better describe their operations.
It's only the second name change in the Pueblo hospital's history.
When the center opened in 1879, it was called the Colorado State Insane Asylum. In 1917, the state changed the name to Colorado State Hospital to describe better the hospital's mission at that time.
Professionals now say the second one is outdated.
"The connotation state hospital is just not very positive. It's got a 1950s, cuckoo's nest-connotation," said Chuck Rodosevich, director of communications and general risk management.
But he agreed that the name was cumbersome: ``I think the people's problem at this point is that it's such a long drawn-out name," he said.
The hospital itself wants to shorten the name for everyday use. New hospital director Dr. Harold Carmel recently asked employees to suggest an acronym -- such as CiMHIP -- to use as an informal name.
The search continues, a spokesman for Carmel said.
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|© Karen Mitchell |