They embraced its challenges.
When the COVID-19 pandemic arrived full force in 2020, most healthcare organizations were overwhelmed in taking care of patients and putting all their energy into keeping up with the first wave. At the same time, patients were desperate for answers and providers’ phones were ringing off the hook! This is why Finger Lakes Community Health (FLCH) recognized early on that patient education was just as vital—misinformation and fear were spreading even faster than the virus.
The Marketing Collaborative and FLCH sprang into action with a strategy to address all their audiences – patients, the community, and their staff. Turns out that their website www.LocalCommunityHealth.com, which had always been an asset, became an even more powerful resource for the community, thanks to our efforts to keep it constantly updated with COVID-19 facts. The number of visitors to this site grew exponentially over that first year.
We added vital information such as FAQs and specific pages on topics of interest. From masking to testing, we offered the latest guidance on when to come into the health center, and eventually vaccination. FLCH embraced the challenge of getting the message out to the patients and non-patients alike, particularly when they held testing and vaccination events. We equipped their staff at these events with communication tools to get the message out to the public. Likewise, we made simple tweaks to their website, like a pop-up that could convey critical updates quickly. We also published frequent educational posts on social media and distributed printed flyers at FLCH’s locations—all in English and Spanish. See an example of our work here. —https://www.localcommunityhealth.com/patient-safety-comes-first/
Each month, we publish an article in the Finger Lakes Times on behalf of FLCH covering relevant health topics. During the pandemic, we’ve used this medium to ghostwrite stories on handling stress, taking advantage of virtual visits, coping with fertility concerns, living through COVID-19, and understanding the role of community health centers like FLCH.
We also earned a cover page story about Jamie Jeffrey’s experience taking her first vaccine test, titled “Frontline Fortitude” (in the Finger Lakes Times on Sunday, May 10, 2020). This was a time of upheaval for FLCH staff who were in harm’s way. Jamie emphasized how talking with her supervisor, Chief Medical Officer Dr. Jose Canario, helped calm her fears, and getting herself tested regularly for COVID-19 gave her the confidence to help her patients better.
A new blog goes live
We also disseminated vital information through the FLCH Staying Healthy Blog, covering all the topics in the Finger Lakes Times and many more. Some in Spanish. https://www.localcommunityhealth.com/la-experiencia-de-un-trabajador-agricola-con-covid-19/
Virtual Visits take center stage
Although FLCH embraced telehealth in a big way before the pandemic, now it was even more critical to healthcare delivery. Patients often couldn’t or wouldn’t come into the health center. Virtual Visits became the answer. We again used the FLCH website, email, text messages, flyers, and social media to communicate with patients about this.
FLCH truly embraced the extraordinary challenges of the pandemic and found ways to communicate with patients to keep their patients healthy. And the work continues. We’re constantly working with FLCH to reach their audience with useful information and reassurance, so that everyone may live safely and confidently.
Some examples of how we reached out to patients:
Speaking to your doctor without coming into the health center (English and Spanish) https://www.localcommunityhealth.com/speak-to-your-doctor-without-coming-to-the-health-center/
What to expect from your virtual visit. https://www.localcommunityhealth.com/telehealth-for-patients/your-virtual-visit-with-an-flch-provider/