Responding to Offers of Community Support: SHSMD Members Share Approaches

By The SHSMD Team posted 04-07-2020 12:05

hand passing paper heart
Individuals and organizations alike are reaching out to their local hospitals, offering financial donations as well as gifts of meals, homemade masks and banners thanking health care workers for their heroic work. However, there are some potential complications with these gifts, and in a discussion on MySHSMD, several members shared their strategies.

Meals for Staff

  • At Fisher-Titus Medical Center in Norwalk, Ohio, Alexandria Cruey, director of marketing and communications, shared that many local businesses have reached out with offers of meals for health care staff. The donors are not allowed in the building, which, due to COVID-19 restrictions, has only two open entrances. Instead, screeners meet the donors at the door and deliver it to the staff. Cruey commented, “It has really been a morale booster for staff and lets them know the community appreciates all they are doing.” The hospital foundation tracks the donations and writes a thank-you letter to each of the businesses.
  • Kelly David, director of marketing and business development at St. Joseph Hospital in Bangor, Maine, described a similar approach. Donors can bring gifts of food to the Emergency Department, where hospital staff receive the food and thank the contributors. Gifts-in-kind are also accepted outside the building and screened by the supply chain team.
  • Lake Region Healthcare Foundation created a COVID-19 Relief and Response Fund, Katie Johnson, vice president of marketing and communications at Lake Region Healthcare in Fergus Falls, Minnesota, shared. The hospital refers all offers of gifts, whether monetary or in-kind, to the foundation. The foundation’s web page lists the needed categories for gifts-in-kind.
  • Lori Shaffer, director of communications at Bancroft NeuroHealth, recommended using the GiveInKind website for coordinating delivering meals to hospital staff. A hospital creates a wish list for delivery from a local restaurant and community members sign up to have the meal delivered. 

Protective Gear and Other Gifts

Munson Healthcare in Traverse City, Michigan, shares guidelines about making and donating masks on its website. University of Chicago Medicine also provides guidelines on handmade masks, gowns, caps and booties, as well as food donations. 

Silver Cross Hospital in New Lenox, Illinois, has a web page dedicated to different kinds of contributions to employees, including factory-made personal protective equipment (PPE), handmade masks, food and gas gift cards and donations to the Employee Assistance Fund.

Some hospitals are receiving offers to put up banners, featuring the donor’s branding, on the hospital grounds thanking health care workers for all they do. Kim Reynolds, of Jarrard, Phillips, Cate and Hancock’s strategic marketing practice in Chicago, recommends selecting a neutral space in the community near the hospital, where these types of banners and a public message wall could be constructed and "sponsored" by more professional looking company banners. Depending on the location, Reynolds said “It may actually get more visibility and be a real morale booster for the community and the health care team.” 

Please join the discussion on MySHSMD to learn more about how hospitals and health systems are responding to COVID-19, including ways that they respond to community support, and share your ideas.