|COVID-19 vaccine image by Torstensimon from Pixabay|
Having made it through three waves of the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic, hospitals in many parts of the country are now facing a rapidly growing fourth wave of COVID-19 patients, the unvaccinated.
While there is always discussion about the hospital’s role in a public health crisis, in leading the mitigation efforts, or follow the advice of public health officials at the Federal, State, and local, the size as a percentage of the population of the anti-vaxxers have added new complexity to the pandemic.
There are many reasons, with the most often repeated by anti-vaxxers is distrust of the government, fueled by the disinformation 12, anti-vaxxers, and conspiracy theorists.
If the hospital sits back as a background player, then the risk of the hospital being overrun with COVID cases is very real and impacts inpatient admissions for non-COVID illnesses, surgery, ambulatory services, again threatening survival.
But the hospital with the primary care physician is the community trusted source of vaccine information. More importantly, the hospital and primary care physicians are not the government which is highly mistrusted.
|Motivational image by Bluebudgie from Piaxabay|
It is in the hospital’s self-interest to lead the vaccination effort to vaccinate the unvaccinated by:
· Leading the community public health vaccination effort.
· Being the credible and trusted source of COVID-19 vaccination truth.
· Mobilize the independent and hospital-employed primary care physicians to vaccinate patients.
· Continuous, efficient, and effective patient and community engagement.
It’s not over until it’s over.
As much as we all want the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic to be over so we can return to some semblance of past normalcy, the facts indicate it will not happen anytime soon. As reported daily, the Delta variant of COVID-19 continues to spread unabated, creating hot spots overwhelming healthcare resources.
Back in March 2020, I wrote about the steps hospitals needed to take in the communities to begin to get ahead of the pandemic. One of the most pressing issues faced by hospital leaders is sustaining leadership and engagement gains. Hospitals are working to return as best they can to what life was like pre-pandemic, and rightfully so. But in doing so, the trust, leadership, credibility, and engagement gains have fallen to the wayside and become secondary.
In light of the scientific ignorance and anti-vaccine information about the dangers and prevention of COVID-19, it falls to the hospital to work actively to make a difference and slow as best they can a resurgence.
|Steps image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay|
Nine ongoing marketing and public relations steps hospitals and health systems to take:
1. Change the focus of your website from preventing COVID-10 infection to getting vaccinated.
2. Change your marketing for the time being from bringing patients back to vaccination first.
3. Use social media for continuous communication for updates on the hospitals or health systems vaccination activities and the individual’s role in slowing the resurgence.
4. Engage your local media with active public relations as the trusted information source ad for being vaccinated.
5. Work with local businesses, social service agencies, and provide the tools to take the actions needed to slow the resurgence.
6. Be vigilant and monitor the stupid communications, rumors, and misinformation in the community related to the vaccine, create and distribute statements to correct the misinformation.
7. Update the educational information sheets on the Delta variant and vaccine availability for use in the community with churches, schools, libraries, community groups, first responders, etc., for material distribution.
8. Get your independent and hospital-employed primary care doctors to lead the anti-vaxxer vaccination effort.
9. Be the trusted and reliable source of news and information in your community related to the Coronavirus.
This can be seen as the medicalization of a social problem, the fact remains, with such misinformation and distrust of the government, if the hospital with primary care physicians doesn’t participate, then you already know what the outcome will be from experience.
Michael is a healthcare business, marketing, communications strategist, and thought leader. As an internationally followed healthcare strategy blogger, his blog, Healthcare Marketing Matters, is read in 52 countries and is listed on the 100 Top Healthcare Marketing Blogs & Websites ranked at No. 3 on Feedspot.com. Michael is a Life Fellow American College of Healthcare Executives. An influencer in healthcare marketing strategy, communications, digital marketing, and social media, Michael is in the top 10 percent of social media experts nationwide. For inquiries regarding strategic consulting engagements, you can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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The opinions expressed are my own.