The state of California reported greater than 554,000 confirmed COVID-19 cases1, in the first eight months of the pandemic. For Redlands Community Hospital, a 229-bed not-for-profit, stand alone hospital, located midway between Los Angeles and Palm Springs, two priorities guided their response to the evolving pandemic.The hospital committed itself to providing the highest quality and safest care to the growing numbers of COVID-19 patients in their community, and, at the same time, to serving as a vital source of health information to engage and inform the broader San Bernardino County community.
A message map for re-engagement
When Redlands began a phased reopening of elective, nonemergent procedures across their facilities, based on guidance from county and state health authorities, Redlands Marketing & Communications team worked closely with clinical colleagues to quickly define a content strategy to re-engage patients.
Understanding that nearly half of American adults report delaying care during the pandemic,2 the Marketing team focused their content plan on reassuring patients and raising awareness of the advanced safety and infection protocols put in place to protect patients, visitors, and caregivers.
Core messaging themes included sharing information about emergency department access for patients with concerns unrelated to COVID-19, new COVID-19 screening protocols, enhanced cleaning and disinfection processes, rearranged waiting rooms, staggered wait times, and requirements for face coverings or masks when in the hospital.
From content strategy to multi-channel activation
To activate the content plan, Redlands’ Marketing team partnered with the StayWell Krames editorial and design teams to develop a special edition of Redlands’ free quarterly WellAware community newsletter, a trusted health information source in the Redlands’ community for more than a decade.
The special edition included articles highlighting the phased reopening of elective, nonemergent procedures, outlined the hospital’s defined pathways to fully and safely separate patients with confirmed or suspected COVID-19 cases from those patients with non-COVID illnesses, and reinforced the risk of delaying care in the event of a medical emergency.
“We want people to know that we are taking the necessary precautions to keep our patients safe,” shared Pranav Mehta, M.D., a family practice physician and chief of staff at Redlands Community Hospital. “We hope patients keep this in mind so they do not delay seeking care for medical emergencies.”
The edition also included practical tips about navigating life during COVID-19 and content reinforcing how to access Redland’s enhanced telehealth options which enables patients to have a “contactless” physical examination. A photograph and article highlighting the hospital’s recently opened hybrid operating unit supported service line marketing for the hospital’s surgical services.
The Marketing team employed a multi-channel marketing approach to maximize the reach of the special edition. The edition was posted digitally to the Redlands Community Hospital website and shared across Redland’s social media accounts, including Redlands’ Facebook page. In addition, a four-page printed edition was mailed to a targeted list of 40,000 homes in the greater San Bernardino County community.
The Redlands Marketing and the Krames team are continuing to monitor the impact of this outreach and identifying new approaches to extend the reach of this content as the pandemic continues.
1. California Department of Public Health. www.cdph.ca.gov/Programs/CID/DCDC/Pages/Immunization/ncov2019.aspx#COVID-19%20by%20the%20Numbers. Accessed August 10, 2020.
2. Hamel L, et al. KFF Health Tracking Poll—May 2020. www.kff.org/report-section/kff-health-tracking-poll-may-2020-health-and-economic-impacts. Accessed July 28, 2020.