Virginia Mason Franciscan Health:
Communicating a flagship medical center opening in the midst of a pandemic
In December 2020, Virginia Mason Franciscan Health (VMFH) opened its new, state-of-the-art hospital: St. Michael Medical Center in Silverdale, Washington. The opening marked the transition of patients and medical services from the former hospital facility in Bremerton, WA – which had been a cornerstone of the community for over 100 years. Opening a new healthcare facility requires clear and consistent communications with the community to generate excitement and ensure all local residents know where to go for care. This was heightened as the health system navigated the complexities of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Building upon multiple years of planning and generating excitement around the new hospital, Quinn Thomas developed a three-month plan to ensure a consistent cadence of community updates and earned media leading up to the official hospital opening.
We facilitated multiple PR opportunities with targeted broadcast, radio, print and online reporters. Key activities included a pre-opening onsite media tour with subject matter experts, which was safely executed to allow media to film behind-the-scenes footage of the hospital before patients officially arrived. We also facilitated a live on-site opening day opportunity for reporters to capture the safe transfer of patients between facilities, which included a live, onsite TV broadcast . All opportunities were driven by hospital leaders with deep expertise on the facility and the patient transfer to help increase community trust and convey key messaging.
As a close knit community, it was crucial to communicate any changes with Kitsap residents directly in advance of, during and post-opening. In addition to sharing information with the community through the hospital’s owned channels, we also leveraged the hospital’s relationship with community partners with deep roots in the region to amplify its messages. QT developed a partner toolkit which included visual assets, social and newsletter copy, and FAQs to equip over 200 community stakeholders such as local officials, nonprofits and other referring facilities, with the latest information.
Services provided for this project:
- Communications strategy
- Public relations
- Media relations
Awards: PRSA Puget Sound Summit Award for Community Relations, 2021