T.C. Thompson was mayor of Chattanooga over 100 years ago, and left perhaps one of the most enduring and important legacies of any civic leader in our city’s history. Erlanger’s advertising now refers to “The Children’s Hospital at Erlanger” instead of “T.C. Thompson’s Children’s Hospital”, and their website also reflects this change. I don’t know the rationale, necessity, or motive for the change but I’m sure Erlanger would say it clarifies the hospital’s mission to exclusively serve children. I hardly think dropping the Thompson name eases any confusion people in the region may have.
Recent news has reported Erlanger management’s desire for a new children’s hospital, the design of which would rival the Aquarium as Chattanooga’s most visible landmark. Erlanger and T.C. Thompson’s provide world class service, yet their facilities are in great need of upgrading. Taxpayers, I suspect, would be willing to pay for that rather than a London Eye or Dubai Tower for Chattanooga.
Years of red ink at Erlanger means they’ll have to turn to philanthropy soon. But maybe that is the motive behind this move. Take off the T.C. Thompson name now, only to replace it with someone else’s later. What if the Lupton, McClellan, Burkett Miller, or even the Erlanger name itself was summarily replaced in this city? Mayor Thompson founded a hospital by raising the money himself, decades ago, and that should count.