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Providence Healthcare Network is rebranding to Ascension Providence, according to health system officials.

The Providence name has been linked to health care in Waco 115 years, and it will remain so going forward, with a twist, officials have announced.

Providence Healthcare Network is now Ascension Providence, reflecting the local affiliation with Ascension, a large Catholic nonprofit health system that operates 151 hospitals, 2,500 care sites and more than 50 senior living facilities around the country.

New signs reflecting the change have gone up at the Providence Health Center complex, at 6901 Medical Parkway at State Highway 6, and at its local long-term care facility, Ascension Living Providence Village.

Ascension Providence’s 24 local clinics soon will get their new signs, spokeswoman Ann Howser said.

The name has been a couple of years in the making Ascension Providence President Philip Patterson said in a phone interview. Providence and Ascension have a longstanding relationship, and officials wanted branding to better reflect what Providence offers, Patterson said. Local physicians and staffers are able to collaborate and compare best practices with their colleagues around the country to ensure better care, he said.

He also said Ascension Providence is growing and continues to hire.

It now employs 2,369 people, second only to Baylor University’s 3,064, according to a ranking compiled by the Greater Waco Chamber of Commerce. Following Ascension Providence are the Waco Independent School District, with 2,373 employees, and H-E-B, the grocery chain, with an estimated 2,000. Baylor Scott & White Hillcrest Medical Center has about 1,700 on its payroll, nearly 700 fewer than Ascension Providence, according to the chamber.

Patterson said Ascension Providence has beefed up hiring for its ambulatory services, including its clinics and outpatient services.

Ascension Providence has national ties but remains committed to bringing its strength to bear on local health services, Patterson said.

“Our priority is to offer access to an integrated group of medical professionals who can best meet people’s health needs at the right place and time, with clear, convenient access points under a unified identity,” Patterson wrote in a press release formally announcing the name change. “The right balance between local identity and national resources is leading to new and innovative ways to care for people, when and where they need it.”

He said Ascension Providence is well respected within the Ascension system.

He wrote Ascension Providence has recently introduced to Waco “minimally invasive heart procedures, a midwifery clinic and robotic surgery options, which are helping people here in Waco heal more quickly and get back to their lives and what they love.”

“Uniting together under the Ascension brand allows our physicians, caregivers and associates more opportunities for collaboration across our state and national network to bring the best ideas and practices to our local communities, providing a greater benefit to our patients,” Ascension Texas President and CEO Craig Cordola wrote in the press release.

Asked about challenges facing Ascension Providence, Patterson said though the system is nonprofit, each entity is expected to carry its weight and contribute financially to Ascension as a whole. He said membership in a national organization gives Ascension Providence additional resources to provide quality care while also treating patients with financial needs.

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