Intermountain Healthcare said Thursday it will remove "Dixie" from the name of one of its hospitals amid a national reexamination of symbols related to the Confederacy and slavery.
Intermountain Dixie Regional Medical Center, located in southern Utah, will be renamed Intermountain St. George Regional Hospital, effective in January.
The decision came as institutions throughout St. George have begun reconsidering the Dixie name. The area was nicknamed Dixie when Latter-day Saints settlers, many of them from the South, moved there in the 1800s. The term Dixie refers to the southern United States during the period when Black Americans were enslaved.
Hospital officials told reporters Thursday that they had been discussing a name change for several months. Hospital administrator Mitchell Cloward said the meaning of Dixie can be confusing for some and have "offensive connotations" for people who are not from the area.
"Our hospital's name should be strong, clear and help everyone we serve feel safe and welcome," Cloward said.
Brian Chadaz, chairman of the hospital's Board of Trustees, said he hopes the new name will help clarify the hospital's location and attract talent from beyond St. George.
Dixie State University has started considering a potential name change after years of resisting calls to change, but the Republican-controlled state Legislature would have the final say. A decision likely wouldn't come until legislators meet in January.
An online petition calling on state leaders to bar the use of the word Dixie in reference to the town of St. George, as well as Dixie State University, has collected about 2,000 signatures, while an opposing petition that supports the word and its connection to the town's history has gained over 22,000 signatures.
Supporters have said the name is important to the area's heritage and is separate from the history of slavery.