Improving the health and well-being of our community is the core of Salinas Valley Memorial Healthcare System’s mission. When the COVID-19 pandemic threatened public health and exposed vulnerabilities in our population, developing highly visible communications and targeted outreach initiatives helped us reach people with information they could use to stay as healthy as possible and protect others.
Reassuring Prospective Patients
As the community struggled to cope during the COVID-19 pandemic, President and CEO Pete Delgado reached out with hope and help. His video messages in both English and Spanish kept the public informed and eased anxiety around visiting the hospital.
Staying Social (at a Distance)
To keep the community informed, SVMHS shared important health information using social media. Our Facebook and Twitter posts, “Ask the Experts” Facebook Live events in Spanish and English, and e-newsletters became a trusted source of important information for tens of thousands of people.
Blogging for Better Health
People appreciate direct and to-the-point information. That is why regular health updates were posted to the SVMHS blog page in English and Spanish. Topics included updates on COVID-19 vaccination strategies; advice for flu prevention, keeping kids safe at school and what to do if a COVID-19 test is positive; and information on the viability of treatments like remdesivir and convalescent plasma.
Reaching People Through Powerful Podcasts
Our “Ask the Experts” podcasts helped people cope through COVID by delivering authoritative insight. Highlights included Jaime Gonzalez, MD, a hospitalist at SVMH, who addressed the disproportionate impact and severity of COVID-19 on Latino populations; an update on the health system’s COVID-19 response from Carla Spencer, RN, director of Emergency Services; and Mahendra Poudel, MD, an infectious disease specialist, who discussed treatment options.
Sharing a Cautionary Tale
Stories have long been the way people make sense of the world. In a September YouTube video, 36-year-old COVID-19 survivor Elidio Gomez gave a testimonial in Spanish – with translation and comments from his doctors – about his experience with the virus. He shared how nurses, physicians, and speech and physical therapists gave him support and confidence to heal and persevere, even when he felt like he was going to die.
Changing Course to Serve the Community
Helping hands make a difference. Launched in early April, the SVMHS Community and Staff Support Project redeployed staff whose hours had been reduced due to the pandemic. As of July 1, more than 185 SVMHS employees had worked 10,500 hours to support the Salvation Army and homeless shelters, staffed a COVID-19 hotline, distributed masks on the hospital campus, screened visitors and supported a wide variety of hospital departments.