SANDUSKY - When visitors entered the rehabilitation area in the former Providence Hospital, they were greeted by smiling pictures of former Miss America Jackie Mayer-Townsend.
The hospital has taken down her photos and pulled her name from the wing because of a dispute over money.
Ms. Mayer, a stroke survivor, asked Firelands Regional Medical Center to pay her a fee for using her name on the wing, which was named for her in 1997. The hospital recently took over Providence Hospital.
But the hospital balked at the idea.
“We have a policy. We don't pay people for the use of their name, no matter who they are,” said George Mylander, chairman of the hospital board. “People just don't feel it's proper for her to charge the hospital.”
The flap began last fall while the former Firelands Community Hospital was in the process of buying Providence. At the time, Ms. Mayer, a 1963 Miss America and a part-time Providence employee, approached officials with a proposal.
Ms. Mayer of Sandusky sought an undisclosed fee for continued use of her name on the hospital wing. In return, Ms. Mayer said they could keep the sign up and she would serve as a spokeswoman for the medical center.
“If they would have accepted my proposal, I could have done a lot more to get the name Firelands out there,” said Ms. Mayer, a motivational speaker who talks primarily about recovering from a stroke she suffered at age 28.
But Mr. Mylander said the hospital isn't looking for national publicity. He said the hospital is a regional medical center that serves an immediate area.
In addition, Mr. Mylander said some hospital employees were laid off during the merger last year and the hospital cannot justify paying Ms. Mayer anymore for her services.
Neither Mr. Mylander nor Ms. Mayer would disclose the proposed fee, but Mr. Mylander said he believes people “would be amazed and shocked by it.”
Despite the name change, Ms. Mayer said she plans to continue working at the hospital, where she meets with patients daily and tries to address their needs. That includes talking and praying with them.
Ms. Mayer said she doesn't plan to let the hospital's decision stop her from her work, which she said she enjoys.
No matter what the name, the wing remains a quality health-care facility, she said.
“It's sad, but life goes on,” she said. “As long as I can do what I want to or need to or think I need to do at the hospital, that's fine.”