Monkeypox. Now what?

Monkeypox has been declared a public health emergency in the U.S. and an emergency of international concern by the World Health Organization. More than two years now into the coronavirus pandemic, what lessons have we learned?

The voice of health care organizations has never been more important.

The COVID-19 pandemic has demonstrated the vital role of health care providers in offering clear, factual information to their workforces, patients and communities in times of emergency. As faith in government health officials declined through the pandemic – and tolerance for harassment and threats against them increased – the trusted voices of hospitals, health systems, and other health care providers will again be key as we learn more about the current monkeypox outbreak and in future public health emergencies.

Start communicating now – and plan for later.

Begin communicating with your employees and other stakeholders to assure them of the measures your organization is taking to keep your team members, referral partners and residents or patients healthy and safe. Providing open, honest information increases the confidence your stakeholders have in you and your organization; without good communication, speculation, rumor or misinformation can easily fill the void.  Think ahead to the questions your frontline caregivers will inevitably receive: Does anyone at your facility have monkeypox? Am I safe at your facility if other patients/residents have monkeypox? Can I catch it from changing bed sheets or washing dishes? Do you have the vaccine?

Apply the learnings of the COVID-19 pandemic to educate and reduce stigma.

The CDC provides guidance for reducing stigma in monkeypox communication and community engagement. Be careful not to marginalize groups that may be of increased risk for monkeypox and keep messages fact-based. The CDC also offers free downloadable information including messages for general and specific audiences, graphics, printed materials and other communication resources.

Review how your crisis communications plan applies.

Your crisis communications plan has undoubtedly changed in the years since we first heard of COVID-19. Your plan is a vital resource and roadmap to guide leaders and help keep your teams on course to address concerns of the public, media, patients and employees.

Does your communication team need support? Lovell Communications has decades of experience managing issues and crises that impact health care organizations. Put our experience to work for you. Email