Case Study No. 113 – Englewood Hospital and Medical Center

East Coast Hospital Responds to Bloodless Needs of Community Three years ago, when Englewood Hospital and Medical Center met with key members of the extensive Jehovah's Witness community living in the tri-state area (New Jersey, Connecticut and New York), the medical and nursing staff, and hospital marketers and administrators became keenly aware of its gaping service void: bloodless care. The tri-state area Witness community of about 120,000 to 125,000 members were being grossly under-served because of their religious beliefs regarding blood transfusions, and as a result, many were dying. From a marketing and ethical standpoint, Englewood Hospital, based in Englewood, N.J, felt compelled to try and meet this community's pressing medical needs. "We knew there were people dying; we were going to do whatever it took to provide them with the medical service they desired," said Ellsworth Havens, Englewood's senior vice president, planning and corporate development. At the time, the hospital had no idea of the breadth and scope of this mammoth project. Reaching a Heterogeneous Target In 1995, the hospital became fully committed to providing cutting edge, comprehensive bloodless care with its New Jersey Institute for the Advancement of Bloodless Medicine and Surgery. The objective-to provide a full range of bloodless surgical alternatives-would take the hospital into uncharted territory that would prove to be an awesome, and at times, overwhelming PR/marketing challenge. N.J. Institute for the Advancement of Bloodless Medicine PR/Marketing budget: $150,000 ('96-'97)No. of PR/Marketers: 5No. of Bloodless patients to date: 3,000Tagline: "We treat you with world-class medicine. And we treat you with respect." With a marketing budget of $150,000 and 18 months to plan, the five-person task force frantically raced against time to get the word out about the Institute's life-saving bloodless procedures, relying heavily on generating significant PR in the tri-state region. "Demographically, the Witness community is heterogeneous, so there was really no main channel to reach them. We had to use mass communication vehicles," recalled Havens, explaining why direct mail and other targeted mediums were not an option for this campaign. The advertising campaign targeted the region with local print (The Record, Star Ledger) and news radio (WOR, WABC, and WCBS). The ads educated people on what bloodless care is and why it was an attractive alternative. The print ads featured a blood bag and explained what bloodless care entailed and why patients may not want a transfusion. Educating the Media Educating the media was also the crux of the PR strategy. The first phase of the PR campaign, which focused on communicating clear and succinct messages about the importance of providing comprehensive bloodless care, was highlighted with each press release and interview. In fact, education was such a focus that some media interviews took six to seven hours. A particular challenge was impressing upon the media the Institute's expertise with highly complex bloodless procedures - like brain surgery, liver tumor removal, prostate, vascular, gynecological and gastrointestinal surgery - that would normally be performed with blood transfusions. At the same time, a strong level of comfort had to be established with the community that these procedures were just as effective as traditional operations with transfusions. "We needed to communicate that we respected patient wishes and that they could expect the same high-quality medical care with bloodless alternatives," said Shelley Rosenstock, Englewood's director of public relations. To accomplish this, the media was fed a number of compelling anecdotal examples of bloodless success stories through press releases, patient profiles and Englewood's newsletter, Choices. The second phase of the PR/marketing strategy touted the Institute's incredibly favorable response and the fact that the Institute was quickly becoming a nationwide resource center for bloodless medicine. It is now one of only 60 nationwide bloodless care centers and the only one in the region recognized by the Jehovah Witness community. The tagline: "We treat you with world-class medicine. And we treat you with respect," became not only the Institute's governing philosophy but has had a halo effect on the entire hospital's communications materials. Using a patient-profile PR/marketing approach to the media was and continues to be extremely effective for the Institute. This approach was taken to clear up some of the media's and community's initial confusion on what bloodless medicine was. Through actual patient experiences, like that of Georgia Stevens who nearly died from a malignant tumor, the media got to see first-hand how complex surgeries that would have ordinarily utilized transfusions were successfully executed, saving lives and preserving peace of mind. Initially, the regional media ate up the patient profile stories, requesting follow-up on-site interviews where reporters could witness bloodless procedures for themselves. Hits with local TV (WNBC, WCBS, WNYW), news radio (WOR, WABC, WCBS, WINS, and the syndicated Lou Adler Medical Report) and print (The Record and the Star Ledger) were immediately achieved. Then national media outlets became equally curious: MSNBC, NBC and ABC, as well as the New York Times and the Washington Times ran coverage of the Institute's progressive bloodless procedures. During the height of its coverage, the Institute generated 20 to 25 spots a week. To date, there have been about 3,000 patients who have received bloodless care for procedures that would have typically used transfusions. Attracting referrals from every major teaching institution throughout the East Coast, patients in 20 different states and four other countries (Trinidad, Mexico, Africa and Canada) have been treated with bloodless alternatives. Their success stories continue to fuel the Institute's on-going PR campaign. "The more information we put out, more is requested from the media and medical groups who want to learn about what we're doing. The PR continues to evolve," said Havens. (Englewood Hospital, 201/894-3499)

Subscribe Now  |  Login

Comments Off

Deals of the Week

Get $200 Off PR News' Digital PR Conference

Join us June 1-3 where you'll hear from top brands such as Walmart, Miami Heat, Verizon and Ritz-Carlton on PR and communication best practices for the next wave of digital trends.

Use code “200off” at checkout to save $200 on the regular rate.

Get $50 off PR News' Book of Employee Communications


In this 5th volume of PR News’ Book of Employee Communications, our authors cover more than 45 articles on crisis communications, social media policies, human resources collaboration, brand evangelism and more.

Use code “50off” at checkout.

Save $100 on a PR News Subscription


Let PR News become your weekly, go-to resource for the latest PR trends, case studies and tip sheets. Topics covered include visual storytelling, social media, measurement, crisis management and media relations.

Use code “SUBDEAL” at checkout.

Comments are closed.