Durham County commissioners voted Monday night to change the name of Durham Regional Hospital, removing Durham from its title in exchange for Duke.

The newly renamed Duke Regional Hospital, which is owned by the county but operated by the Duke University Health System, believes the change will improve its reputation in the community and help attract patients, said Katie Galbraith, chief of hospital operations.

“Duke Medicine is one of the strongest brands in healthcare,” Galbraith said. “People who move to this area tend to recognize the Duke name, and we feel that changing our name puts us in the best position for future growth.”

The hospital opened as Durham County General Hospital in 1976, according to its website. By the 1990s, it changed its name to Durham Regional Hospital in order to better reflect its expanding service to residents of neighboring counties. The hospital signed a partnership with DUHS in 1998 to ease financial troubles, and since then it has been managed by Duke.

The hospital’s board of trustees unanimously approved a proposal for the name change several weeks ago, said board member and county commissioner Michael Page. The board then filed a request for action with the county commissioners and received approval from county manager Michael Ruffin.

“We feel that from a marketing point of view, the hospital needs this branding to reach new people,” Page said. “The rich history and tradition of Duke will give credence to the hospital when people are making decisions about their medical care.”

According to the 2012 edition of U.S. News and World Report magazine, Durham Regional is ranked the fifth best hospital in North Carolina while Duke University Medical Center is ranked number one. Duke is also ranked eighth nationally.

Last week, members of the hospital’s administration met with the county commissioners to discuss the change and received approval from four of the five commissioners, Galbraith said. The commissioners placed their final votes at their regular work session Monday night.

The name change could prove particularly effective for situations in which patients are asked by emergency medical services to quickly select a hospital, Galbraith said. The hospital’s president, Kerry Watson, said the name change aligns with the hospital’s goal of becoming the best community hospital in North Carolina.

“We’ve deliberated on this a lot and done a lot of research, and we feel that [changing our name] will support us in offering the best possible patient care,” he said.