To me, this is an interesting question (and perhaps to no one else): Do I work in healthcare or marketing? You might say both, but this is fundamentally about the way I see myself? Am I another person working in marketing who just happens to have expertise in healthcare? I don’t think so. Even though I work for a marketing firm, I see myself as someone working in healthcare. Is that a fallacy? (Feel free to tell me so.) I’d like to think that I’m on the team with clinicians, hospital employees, administrators, communicators and patients. Everyday I am immersed in this world of healthcare. Yes, some people may see me as a vendor, but I’m not going to let that limit my reach and worldview.
I was at an event Monday evening that reminded me why I’ve chosen to work in healthcare. My wife and I attended a gathering of donors and board members at SECU Family House – a home away from home for seriously ill adult patients and family members visiting UNC Hospitals. It is one of our favorite causes and one we proudly support. I was an early board member before the house was built, and my firm did pro bono public relations and marketing to support the effort.
At the event, Scotti and I met people who share our commitment to providing the best possible experience for the patient and family members. In the audience were clinical leaders from UNC Health Care, retired physicians, health system administrators, and community volunteers. We all share the same passion. In this particular case, we don’t want the limited availability and the high cost of hotel rooms to be an impediment to care. The going rate for a room at Family House is $35 per night and the accommodations are spectacular. The house has incredible amenities including a communal kitchen with several ovens and refrigerator space for each guest, beautifully designed common areas, and a wonderful home-like atmosphere. This truly is a healing environment.
My involvement with Family House takes me into the world of patient experience and access to care – two things of great importance. I think and care about the role of design in the creation of healing spaces; the role of sustainability in the development of new hospitals; and the impact all of that has on the employees of the health system and the care they deliver. As more and more seriously ill people receive sophisticated treatment on an outpatient basis, the need for facilities like Family House will only increase. A place like Family House takes so much stress off of the family and allows them to connect with other families facing similar challenges.
My father spent his entire career working in public television. Late in life he told me that he considered himself an educator first, and then a broadcaster. That provided important insight into his values and motivations. He could not have been the educator that he imagined himself to be without first becoming a broadcaster. I would say the same is true for me: My expertise in marketing has afforded me this opportunity to enjoy a career in healthcare at this incredible time of transformation. It is a pleasure to participate in that transformation – even if my part if limited to healthcare marketing reform!