By Seth Daniel
For generations of those in the Everett, Revere and Chelsea areas, the hospital on the hill has been known simply “the Whidden.”
But in more recent times, the Whidden Hospital name has become confusing, and a lot of folks weren’t aware it was part of the Cambridge Health Alliance (CHA) – as are the other two hospitals in the network, the CHA Somerville and CHA Cambridge.
Starting on Nov. 1, the Whidden Hospital officially changed its name to the CHA Everett, and hospital officials believe it will fall more in line with the network branding.
“These communities, the Malden, Chelsea, Revere, Everett and Winthrop communities, are now made up of different populations,” said Mary Cassesso of CHA. “That’s why we thought about changing the name of the hospital. The communities are far more diverse than when I was growing up around here and was a patient. Whidden doesn’t resonate. It’s now become confusing that the name isn’t reflective of the city that the hospital is in. When we talked to people about it, it made sense and was more consistent to CHA in our health system. Branding is important because when people see that symbol of you, they need to know what you do.”
The Whidden Hospital got its name from Georgia Whidden.
In 1897, she donated her family’s estate on top of the hill to the City of Everett so that a hospital with open admissions could be built. The first hospital had only 13 beds.
Now, the busy, safety-net hospital serving Everett and the cities immediately around it, has one of the busiest Emergency Rooms in the state – and boasts some of the shortest waiting times.
Nevertheless, despite all of the growth and the marriage of the hospital to CHA in 2000, Whidden won’t be completely forgotten.
“Georgia Whidden must have been unbelievably generous because not only did she leave the whole estate to become a hospital, but also she specifically stipulated that the hospital be a public hospital that is open to all religions, economic groups, races and genders,” said Cassesso. “We have a waiting room and lobby that will still bear her name, as well as a plaque.”
While the hospital began its new naming on Nov. 1, there will also be a public unveiling of the new name on Nov. 15 at the CHA Everett from 4-6 p.m.
And despite the new name, Cassesso said it’s the work inside that’s important and that hasn’t changed.
“It’s a proud tradition that Georgia Whidden started and we’ll continue,” said Cassesso. “It’s about the work that goes on inside and how they treat the patients. That won’t change at all. When you talk about what’s in the best interests of our patients, this is in their best interests to understand who we are and what we’re a part of.”