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Overcoming Opposition, Building Support for Replacement Hospital

Challenge

Amid the rising number of rural hospital closures, one county-owned hospital was determined to secure its future with the construction of a much-needed replacement facility. To do so, the hospital would have to secure an increase in the annual subsidy it received from the county and overcome opposition from a small but vocal contingent of citizens who believed a replacement facility would raise taxes and weaken the county’s financial position. With county officials on the fence and talk of a referendum growing, the hospital engaged Lovell Communications to build community support for its plans.

Strategy & Tactics

After investing time in understanding the community’s perception of both the hospital and the proposed project, Lovell worked with the hospital and its strategic partners to commission an economic impact analysis to demonstrate its financial value on the community and quantify how that impact would increase with the construction of a new facility. Leveraging the economic impact study and other data gathered during the research phase, we created a comprehensive communications plan and message platform that highlighted the hospital’s vital role in the community and addressed specific concerns raised by the opposition.

In addition to shaping messaging for public hearings and community presentations, Lovell created a themed campaign that included print and digital ads, as well as other strategies to energize hospital employees, physicians, volunteers and community supporters. Lovell also worked with hospital leaders to take stock of the organization’s relationships and facilitate one-on-one outreach with potential supporters. By addressing concerns directly with audiences who could influence the outcome, the campaign succeeded in neutralizing concerns while generating goodwill and support for the hospital.

Results

In addition to becoming a source of pride for hospital employees, the campaign garnered widespread support and helped persuade county commissioners to increase the hospital’s annual subsidy. As a result, the replacement hospital has since become a reality – allowing local residents to receive a wider range of healthcare services close to home. As the new location was completed, we continued to work closely with the hospital to establish a new brand identity, build a robust website and execute a multi-faceted campaign that garnered significant support and engagement from the local community.

 

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