2016 Diversity & Inclusion Awards: Diversity & Inclusion Campaign

Winner: Ascension - Addressing Healthcare Needs of Diverse Communities, One Story at a Time

As the largest nonprofit health system in the United States and the world’s largest Catholic health system, Ascension has a history of delivering compassionate, personalized care to all persons—with special attention to those living in poverty and those most vulnerable. Because of this, Ascension identified a need to strengthen the organization’s outreach to the African American community and address the unique healthcare needs of this population in a meaningful way.  Through a series of insightful op-eds by Ascension and Dr. Patricia Maryland, president of healthcare operations and chief operating officer for Ascension’s Healthcare Division, the organization sought to address these issues head-on.

Ascension and Dr. Maryland recognized that a well-executed media strategy is essential to successfully reaching African American communities and increasing the understanding and trust of medical professionals. A team of media relations experts developed a program targeting key media outlets with a wide range of nationally recognized health conditions and disparities overwhelmingly affecting African Americans. To reach this audience, the company partnered with America’s largest association of minority-owned community newspapers, the National Newspaper Publishers Association. Through that partnership, Dr. Maryland published 10 op-eds covering a variety of nationally recognized health issues from diabetes to pain management. The op-ed initiative achieved significant success reaching and engaging the African American community on critical health issues. The partnership with the National Newspaper Publishers Association enabled the brand to reach an average of more than 20 million readers each week. Due to the popularity of the columns, Dr. Maryland was invited to become a monthly health contributor to the NNPA service to continue advocating for African American health issues on a national scale.