Happy 10th birthday, MHSCN!
I remember well that day in August 1996, when David Peters [then president of the Minnesota Council for Health Care Marketing and Public Relations -- MCHCMPR] and Joel Stegner [president of the Minnesota Health Strategy Network -- MHSN] came to visit me in my office. They asked me if I would be willing to serve as the first president of the just-formed Minnesota Health Strategy & Communications Network.
[Well, maybe “asked” isn’t the right word. Perhaps “strong-armed?”]
It happened that the American Society for Health Care Marketing and Public Relations and the Society for Healthcare Strategy and Market Development had recently announced their merger. Having worked together effectively in the past, the two local organizations created a steering committee that determined that their own merger would better serve members through stronger programming, enhanced communications and greater financial resources. One hundred percent of the voting membership agreed to the merger.
And thus, the Minnesota Health Strategy & Communications Network (MHSCN) was born.
But it wasn’t an easy babyhood. Growing pains during that first year included turnover in some key board positions, a dwindling treasury, and discovery of how to be “all things to all members” for a more diverse membership. Hardy attendees of the first planned metro-area luncheon program came on the coldest day of the year. Another program had to be cancelled due to insufficient registration. And the annual conference, a mainstay of the former MCHCMPR, was not held that first year, in order to take time to assess the educational needs and preferences of members.
During that first year, there were some successes, including the initiation of the The Navigator newsletter, implementation of Special Interest Group sessions, and several educational programs. In the summer of 1997, instead of preparing a slate of officers for election, the Board of Directors agreed to serve for another year to give the fledgling organization some stability. No membership campaign was held in 1997, but was resumed in 1998 for the 1999 calendar year.
Since 1998, MHSCN has:
- grown from about 175 to nearly 300 members
- held a highly successful 2-day summer conference each year, adding the annual mid-winter conference in 2004
- developed a Web site, with the third upgrade to be unveiled this summer
- initiated Beacon Awards and Leadership Recognition programs
- added a Mentoring/Networking Program
- remained financially solvent
And we’ve had some memorable experiences over the years.
Who will ever forget the overnight storm at the 1999 summer conference at Ruttger’s Bay Lake Lodge in Brainerd....a storm which toppled trees and knocked out power and water?
Or the fabulous bonfires at the 1998 conference in Two Harbors, the 1999 Ruttger’s conference and the 2000 conference at Oak Ridge in Chaska?
Or on the more serious side, how disaster planning became a key focus in our educational programs, as we all suffered the after-effects of 9-11-01?
And then there were programs that included great “site visits” to new facilities, most recently Woodwinds Health Campus (fall 2001), Fairview Red Wing Medical Center (spring 2002), Northfield Hospital (spring 2003), and Allina Commons (spring 2006).
We have a terrific organization with great camaraderie and exceptional programming, providing excellent value to our members. Happy Birthday, MHSCN, and may you have many more!
About Nancy B. Miller
I have worked in marketing, communications and public relations for more than 45 years. My first 27 years were at North Memorial Medical Center, where I saw the onset and gradual acceptance of health care marketing. The next 11-plusyears were at Allina Health, and my last several years in the work force were spent as a freelancer for Allina Health’s Courage Kenny Rehabilitation Institute. During my career, I managed departments, budgets and staff and did all the “usual stuff;” and coming into the digital age, I survived – and even thrived – in the transition from print to web-based communications.
I was active in MHSCN and its predecessor organizations during my entire career in health care. When MHSCN was formed by the merger of the communications/marketing group with the strategic planning group in 1996, I served as its first president and remained on the Board of Directors through 2009. Over the years, I also served as secretary, communications chair (newsletter editor) and membership chair. I helped to plan many MHSCN conferences and I attended most of them as well.
I retired from the work force in 2014. Since then, I’ve been a volunteer with Feline Rescue, Inc., working at the shelter, serving as secretary on the organization’s Board of Directors, and producing two monthly e-newsletters. I’m pleased to remain heavily involved in marketing communications even if it’s for a different species these days.