The Nicola Valley Hospital and Health Centre is holding an open house to celebrate its formal name change and showcase what it offers.

The centre’s name change began in January at the request of community members who thought the word “hospital” more accurately described what the centre offers, said Bernie Easson, community integration health services administrator for Interior Health Authority. Although the new sign went up six months ago, Easson said the change was recently formalized, and that’s why the centre is holding the celebration on Thursday.

“Working in health care, we see the services we’re providing, but the term ‘hospital’ kind of helps everyone in the community understand a little bit better what services are there,” she said.

Easson added that it’s also important to visitors and people who might move to Merritt that the word “hospital” is in the name.

The open house will include speeches by Merritt Mayor Susan Roline and Interior Health Authority board chair Norman Embree, as well as guided tours and question periods. The event starts at 3 and runs until 7 p.m.

The hospital is considered a Level 1 Community Hospital by Interior Health Authority, which means it covers a broader range of services than a community health centre – including mental health, dietician services and a 24-7 emergency room – but less than a Level 2 Community Hospital such as Kamloops’ Royal Inland Hospital, which has more specialized services such as obstetrics and surgery. That means the local hospital can take care of patients’ immediate needs, while patients requiring more specialized care are referred to Kamloops, Easson said.