What began as an unfortunate and potentially scary series of events for an Atlanta area women’s clinic is now being seen as an opportunity for growth and rebirth.
The women’s health clinic in the North Atlanta area known for the last decade as “Isis Women’s Health” has changed its name to “Nile Women’s Health Clinic.”
The name was revealed as part of a customer appreciation celebration March 31.
“There are these stages of grief that everyone goes through,” Dr. Hughan Frederick, founder of the women’s health clinic, told NBCBLK. “We are at the acceptance piece right now. It is actually happening. We have actually changed our name. Changing the name changes the identity.”
The original name paid homage to the Egyptian goddess of motherhood, according to Frederick. But as of late, the name ISIS (Islamic State of Iraq and Syria) has become associated with terrorism attacks throughout Europe and abroad.
When Frederick moved to Atlanta, he felt it necessary to “hang a shingle” and start a practice. He wanted the practice to be niche; provide natural, holistic birthing for mothers; and be customer service centered. The name, he said, paid homage to the Egyptian goddess of motherhood.
“I wanted a name that respected women,” he said. “I would like to believe I have accomplished exactly what I set out to do.”
There were signs of potential trouble back in 2009 when he received a call from his mother in Boston. She asked him why he selected the name Isis when there was a group in the Middle East causing problems. She was referencing the beheading of a captured American at the hands of the Al Qaeda splinter group as cause for concern.
Frederick shrugged it off, thinking the stories would pass. They didn’t.
“I thought about changing the name then, but after talking to some of my patients and members of my team we decided to stick with the name.”
“And then we got a call from a guy threatening to shoot the place up because we were disrespectful to the military and soldiers and never should have picked this name.”
The practice grew over the next few years and in September 2014, they moved into their current location on Mansell Road in Roswell.
“Great location. Busy traffic count. Everything was falling into place,” Fredrick reminisced. “We put the big sign up on the building – mind you, ISIS is now a credible threat out there.”
They grew in clientele and exposure and that big sign started getting noticed. And by the end of 2015, people started getting very upset. There were threats of reporting the women’s clinic to the Better Business Bureau and other expressions of concern.
“But nothing too threatening until the beginning of this year. The calls took a different turn. People started pulling up in front of the office with vans full of people. Some took pictures,” Frederick reported. “And then we got a call from a guy threatening to shoot the place up because we were disrespectful to the military and soldiers and never should have picked this name.”
Fredrick said they were being treated as if they were a new practice that sprung up from out of nowhere. But by this time, they were quickly approaching ten years in operation. Regardless, they heeded the threat and began the process of removing any evidence of the former name.
“The safety of my patients and staff were my main concern,” said Fredrick.
The new name, which keeps with the clinic’s Egyptian theme, was selected from a list of potential names given by patients of the clinic.
“Nile is the mother river of African civilization. The Nile River also nurtured Moses,” he said. “It is manifest destiny. What we call ourselves becomes what we are.”
Now that everyone has gotten to the point of acceptance, Frederick said they are placing their focus on celebrating the milestones and have a good time in the process.
“In many ways this might be the blessing we need to move toward the next 10 years.”