The financial security of a community hospital in rural Texas was threatened when a group of local physicians announced plans to build a boutique hospital. The new facility was expected to target high-profit, low-risk procedures while leaving behind low-reimbursement services such as emergency, intensive care and obstetrics, as well as 100 percent of the charity care burden.
Strategy and Tactics
Because of the complex nature of this debate, Lovell designed a multi-level communication strategy for the hospital. Positioning hospital board members as key message bearers, we developed talking points to inform stakeholders, particularly elected officials community and business leaders, physicians and the public about the national debate surrounding boutique hospitals and their impact. We delivered these messages through one-on-one meetings, community presentations, direct mail, VIP events, letters to the editor, guest commentaries and newspaper advertising. Woven throughout the discussion was information about the community hospital’s contributions as a major employer, tax-payer, healthcare resource and corporate neighbor.
More than a year later, the organizers behind the boutique hospital had not broken ground and were no longer pursuing investors. All target audiences became keenly aware of the negative impact the project could have, and about the federal moratorium on the development of physician-owned hospitals. The community hospital greatly strengthened relationships with local civic and business leaders and raised its overall visibility as a community asset.
“Lovell helped our hospital communicate a complex issue, turning a controversial debate into an accessible and important community dialogue. With their help, we reached all of our stakeholders – from soccer moms to state legislators – and communicated the message that a boutique hospital would be bad medicine for our community.”
- Ron MacLaren, Chief Executive Officer, Cleveland Community Medical Center
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