How four award-winning organizations handled health care crises

These organizations found creative and powerful ways to communicate about the Flint water crisis, the Zika outbreak and more.

Did you save the day?

You’re a communicator, not a superhero, but your work can help save lives.

These organizations weren’t out to win any awards when they confronted health care crises, but they rushed to the rescue regardless. And in the end they took home the gold from Ragan’s Health Care PR & Marketing Awards. Check out their stories.

Molina Healthcare addresses the Flint water crisis

Molina Healthcare strives to provide high-quality affordable health care to people across the country. In the wake of the Flint water crisis, Molina held free lead testing events in the city. The events attracted about 3,400 people; 1,500 children and 80 adults had their lead levels tested. Seventy-six tested positive for abnormally high lead levels; they were assigned case managers to ensure they followed up with their primary care physicians. The events attracted coverage from a variety of news outlets, including the Huffington Post . Employees also volunteered at bottled water drives at Molina offices in Troy and Detroit, leading to a donation of 15,000 bottles of water. By providing tangible assistance to the community during a crisis, Molina changed lives and achieved 315 media placements.

New York Presbyterian tells an immigrant’s powerful story

As discussions about immigration reform and xenophobia constantly appear in the news, New York Presbyterian wanted to make a statement about the importance of diversity, focusing on the contributions immigrants have made to medicine.

One of the hospital’s most talented cancer researchers is Dr. Azra Raza, a Muslim immigrant from Pakistan. To highlight her work and unique perspective, she wrote a first-person article titled, ” I’m an immigrant and a Muslim. And I’m here to cure cancer .” She maintains the largest MDS-AML tissue repository, containing 60,000 blood and tissue samples from patients. Dr. Raza’s efforts may help stop the progression of leukemia and other cancers. Dr. Raza shares stories about her Pakistani upbringing and also notes that her siblings—a pediatric oncologist, a radiologist and breast imaging expert, an international relations scholar and an electrical engineer—are immigrants too. “We are Muslims,” she writes, “we are immigrants, and we are enriching, prolonging and saving American lives. We are just seven of the many immigrants, from many lands, of many faiths, who are—and have always been—an essential part of America’s strength.” The article was published in the team’s first placement choice, STAT News, a leading voice in health care. The article was shared by multiple news outlets, including The Guardian.

The CDC shares vital information about Zika

The Zika virus outbreak, causing birth defects and Guillain-Barré syndrome, resulted in a public uproar when the epidemic worsened from 2015 to 2016.

To prevent the spread of misinformation—and the virus—the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention produced a series of short videos dubbed ” Zap Zika” and shared them across the CDC’s Facebook, Twitter and Instagram accounts. The videos, originally shot in English, were also translated into Spanish and Haitian Creole in order to reach as many people as possible. The CDC collaborated with news outlets and social media influencers along with its usual partners. The campaign produced more than 6,800 messages delivering information about prevention, updates on the outbreak and news of the CDC’s response. The videos were published 92 times across the CDC’s social media accounts. The CDC joined or hosted 22 real-time events over an 11-month period. The results, including more than 680,000 views of the videos, speak to the campaign’s effectiveness.

McLean Hospital uses art to address mental health stigma

McLean Hospital, the largest affiliate of Harvard Medical School, is the No. 1 freestanding psychiatric hospital in the country. Addressing the stigma surrounding mental health issues, McLean took an artistic approach by creating a 235-foot gallery that connects Terminals B and C at Boston’s Logan Airport.

Forty poster-size pieces of art were installed in the space, inspired by a similar display at Alcatraz Island National Park. Each large poster featured a photo of someone affected by mental illness—including some celebrities—along with facts about mental health. An event was held to introduce the installation, with coverage running in outlets like The New York Times and The Boston Globe for a full week after. The Huffington Post gave McLean its own blog to feature posts for each of the subjects; those stories also appeared on a website dedicated to the campaign, ” Deconstructing Stigma: A Change in Thought Can Change a Life .” The shared experience led to many onsite conversations, not to mention 3 million social media engagements. A companion book has sold out and is in a second printing.

McLean Hospital is negotiating for similar exhibits in three other airports and two universities; it has also created a portable exhibit that will visit 11 conferences.

Have you told an important health care story in a compelling way for your organization or client? Tell us about it. Enter Ragan’s 2018 Health Care PR & Marketing Awards.


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