New sign, new name
Hospital, other health services undergo marketing makeover
Originally published 2010-03-04
Everybody, more or less, in this community knows about Gunnison Valley Hospital. Most have heard of the Willows Assisted Living Center and the nursing home, which is called the Gunnison Living Community.
What is far less widely understood — and is the main reason behind a new integrated marketing campaign that was unveiled this week — is that all of these facilities, plus other services, are tied together. They are part of a unified health care system. They are owned by the same entity — the public — and managed by one board of directors. They are led by one chief executive officer, Randy Phelps.
“We decided to put one big umbrella up so we can effectively communicate that we are one system,” Phelps explained of the campaign, which was born at a board of directors retreat that took place last July at the Aspinall-Wilson Center.
That umbrella is called Gunnison Valley Health. There is a new logo and a new tag line: “Living Well Together.”
What all, exactly, does this unified health system include — other than the hospital, the Willows and the nursing home, as mentioned above? Other departments that are part of the whole include the emergency medical services (the ambulance/first responder service), Hospice and Palliative Care of the Gunnison Valley and Mountain Home Health.
There also is a fundraising organization for the entire system now called the Gunnison Valley Health Foundation.
The intent behind marrying all of these systems, which has been ongoing for a few years now, is to achieve “efficiency, cooperation and integration across department lines,” Phelps explained.
Another underlying purpose of the new campaign, according to a report on the effort, is to “increase volumes.” In other words, do better business.
Each of these divisions operates as an enterprise, meaning the goal is for them to be self-sustaining and hopefully operating in the black. One of the ways to assist in this effort is to increase awareness of Gunnison Valley Health services through direct and social marketing. The hospital has already begun doing this through an aggressive advertising campaign in local media.
“Sometimes people don’t even know we have the services locally that they are leaving town to receive,” Phelps said, offering up plenty of examples, including that the hospital hosts a visiting eye surgeon and an ear, nose and throat specialist on a regular basis. “We’d like to increase our market share.”
Health leaders are also in the formative stages of pursuing another expansion of the hospital. The plan calls for a new radiology department, which would get X-ray and cat scan capabilities closer to the ER, replace the need for the mobile MRI trailer, and allow for the creation of nicer clinician space in the existing radiology area.
Phelps said the construction price tag for this expansion is in the $5 million neighborhood. The plan to pay for it includes fundraising from the foundation and — similar to the last hospital expansion in 2000 — issuing bonds, which would be paid back through existing hospital revenues. They do not intend to go to local voters seeking tax money.
Michelle Campbell is the consultant who spearheaded the new marketing campaign. She is a second homeowner in Gunnison with a long background in hospital public relations work.
A friend of hers was seriously injured in a motorcycle accident nearby, and she credits the local response for saving his life. It just so happened that she approached Phelps with an offer of thanks at about the same time he and the board were embarking on the idea of launching a new campaign. She performed much of the consulting work, including meeting dozens of individuals and hosting several focus groups, pro-bono, Phelps said.
Gunnison Valley Health employs 320 workers, Phelps said. The hospital alone has been credited with creating a $50 million annual economic impact in the community.
(Chris Dickey can be contacted at 970.641.1414 or firstname.lastname@example.org)