This is the fourth entry in a series of blog posts covering all aspects of managing the media during a healthcare crisis. Being prepared to handle the media during a crisis is an essential aspect of successful management.
In this series we have covered:
- The initial response and disaster planning.
- Crisis communications.
- Selecting and training a spokesperson.
- Dealing with the media and prospecting after the crisis.
Prospering After the Crisis
If you have cooperated with governmental agencies and followed the advice of the experts, local officials may be eager to re-establish your good standing in the community. Communities are often willing to assist local medical facilities to survive after a crisis.
When appropriate, use the media to announce a story that will capture the admiration of the community. A community project, a newsworthy story about an interesting patient or an event at the facility opens access to the community.
Regaining the facility’s reputation, if damaged, will not happen overnight. It will take months of outreach, positive word of mouth marketing and the support from the medical community. Reach out to referral sources using executive leadership or peers. Don’t expect a press release or contact from a marketing director to have the same impact as a call from the medical director or others in leadership.
The public will respond most favorably if they feel the provider facility staff was truthful and forthcoming.
“Thinking on your feet” often leads to “I wish I would have said…” In crisis management responding to families, phone inquiries and vendors may leave staff at a loss for words. Below are samples of responses that may prove helpful in crisis management:
- Yes, we are aware of the news reports regarding our facility. Please rest assured our management team is resolving issues as they exist in our facility and our staff is continuing to provide excellent care to our patients.
- I cannot answer your specific questions about what you have seen in the news, but I can direct you to our corporate representative:
Phone Number: _________________________
E-Mail Address: _________________________
- We are actively investigating the information reported in the news. Our staff is providing continuing care for our patients and additional information will be provided by our corporate staff.
- I understand your concern and questions. We are investigating the situation and will be able to answer all of your questions when our investigation is complete. At this time I cannot give you information because our investigation is ongoing.
- With all investigations there are more questions than answers. I thank you for your concern and interest and we will inform you as we find answers and solutions to this situation. Until then we continue to care for our patients.
Dear: (employee, family or vendor)
On (date) we discovered (name of event) had occurred in our facility. We have identified the cause and are actively investigating and correcting the problems associated with this occurrence. Although specific causes have not been pinpointed, you will see immediate changes in our facility.
Management is working closely with designated governmental officials to determine what approaches must be taken to assure the continued safety and security of our patients and staff.
Our investigation has determined specific areas that we are examining and correcting. As an important part of (name of facility) it is our intention to keep you informed regarding the situation and changes being implemented. We care deeply for our patients, staff and families and our (name of facility) family is our highest priority. When we discovered the circumstances surrounding (insert event) we took immediate firm decisive steps to assure the continued care of our patients was uninterrupted.
Other changes will be coming in the future as we discover how best to address this situation to create continued safety for our patients, families and staff.
We will keep you informed about future developments in this matter.
If you have specific questions or information please contact (name and contact information for spokesperson).
Name and title of corporate officer
Sample News Release
For Immediate Release
Contact Name at the facility:
Name of Facility Responds to (identify event, e.g. recent fire)
(Name of facility, city and state) From its start, (Name of facility) has been dedicated to the care and treatment of its patients. On (date) our facility reportedly experienced (describe named accusation or event). Our facility is working closely with the (Name of State) State Department of Health to investigate and resolve the situation. It has been reported that (summarize reported events) and our facility is cooperating fully with the authorities.
(Name of facility) is owned and operated by (name of corporation or owners) who have an illustrious reputation for providing care to our patients. Nothing is more important to the safety and well-being of our patients, families and staff. “Immediately upon hearing about (name of event) our staff took immediate action to (name resolved events) and make certain similar events do not happen in the future” stated (name of corporate spokesperson). “We did not wait for findings of the independent investigation, we took immediate steps to protect our patients and inform families.”
At this time we are in the process of an active investigation and not all results of the investigations that are available. Our immediate, swift, decisive actions regarding this event will prevent this type of event from happening again in the future. Our staff has examined internal policies and procedures and changes have already been put in place to assure the safety and well-being of our staff and patients.
(Name of facility) has provided excellent services to our community for (number of years) and our employees are committed to continuing our record of providing to the population we are committed to serving.