DOING MORE WITH LESS DURING A PANDEMIC
In 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic turned the world upside down: most non-essential community businesses were forced to close their doors. Schools shut down. Events, sports and movie releases were canceled.
Given the nature of a pandemic, the public would expect hospitals and the healthcare industry to see large increases in business—but the opposite was true.
Certainly, hospitals continued to see patients, but elective and non-essential appointments, surgeries, therapies and procedures were canceled because of the threat of COVID-19. Reduced revenues forced health systems to make difficult financial decisions – including cutting staff hours, furloughing employees and closing clinics.
The work-life of health care marketers and communicators drastically changed as well. Some experienced reduced work hours and/or resources. Healthcare agencies scaled back or stopped important campaigns. Freelancers lost or paused work with important clients. Yet, despite having less in terms of staff, vendor support, and budget, the need for communications during this novel public health crisis remains paramount.
Many of us are doing more with less – fewer coworkers; reduced hours; furloughed staff; dealing with crisis communications along with regular communications; less time with children home from school and with families at night; and tighter deadlines to get communications out.
For many, the only thing increased is stress.
Our panel of experts will share their stories working in healthcare communications during the COVID-19 pandemic. They’ll share lessons learned and how they’ve kept emotionally healthy, been good stewards of their resources and met their goals despite having less.
Vice President, Marketing & Communications
Lake Region Healthcare
Katie Johnson has served as the Vice President of Marketing & Communications at Lake Region Healthcare in Fergus Falls since 2011. She is responsible for a broad range of work and her role encompasses marketing & communications for two hospitals, 10 clinics, a cancer center, a wellness studio and CrossFit gym, an assisted living facility and the Foundation. Prior to entering the field of healthcare marketing she worked in telecommunications marketing for 16 years. She has a Bachelor’s Degree in Broadcasting from Northwestern College in St. Paul and spent the early years of her career as a radio broadcaster. She has been named to the Prairie Business Magazine’s 2017 “Top 25 Women in Business” and was named a “Top Hospital Marketer of the Year” in 2017 by Hospital Marketing National. Katie’s current position meshes well with her personal passion for health & fitness. She loves her CrossFit community and all outdoor activities, especially running and downhill skiing, and she volunteers her time with Rotary and YoungLife.
Margo O’Hara brings over 15 years’ strategic communication experience to Padilla’s Health Team. Her work with a wide range of organizations — public and privately held companies, nonprofits and government agencies — gives her a unique perspective on health care clients’ marketplace challenges. In an increasingly dynamic health care landscape, Margo delivers sound counsel and purposeful plans that keep clients connected to key audiences and aligned with their business objectives. Her health care expertise spans provider, device and medtech communication, including digital marketing, corporate communication, thought leadership, media relations and influencer engagement tactics. In addition to her communication experience in the health care sector, Margo has worked in the transportation, environment, and real estate industries. She received her bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
Director, Marketing & Communications
MNGI Digestive Health
Lisa Laliberte Belak is the Director of Marketing and Communications for MNGI Digestive Health, one of the largest independent GI specialty groups in the country. She is also the current President of the Minnesota Medical Group Management Association (MMGMA) and is a liaison to the Minnesota Medical Association (MMA) Board of Trustees. Lisa is active with the Minnesota Cancer Alliance and its Cancer Health Equity Network and she serves an advocacy role as a member of the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce’s Health Care Policy Committee. In 2016, the Minneapolis-St. Paul Business Journal selected Lisa as one of the Top 50 Women in Business. Prior to working in healthcare, she was Vice President of Publishing & Licensing for a fine art publishing firm. Lisa has a bachelor’s degree in Journalism/Public Relations from the University of St. Thomas.
Director of Communications
Ashley Burt leads the public relations team for HealthPartners hospitals and clinics where she’s responsible for internal communications and reputation management. She has a personal passion for well-being and health equity, which has driven her 19-year career in health care public relations. She also serves on the board of directors for Turning Point for Victims of Domestic and Sexual Violence. When she’s not working, she enjoys traveling (pre-COVID) with her husband and three daughters, yoga, reading and cooking.
Media Relations Director
Ginger Plumbo is a communications manager at Mayo Clinic, a top-ranked nonprofit organization committed to clinical practice, education and research, with locations in Rochester, Minnesota; Jacksonville, Florida; and Scottsdale/Phoenix, Arizona. She leads communications and media relations efforts for Mayo Clinic’s transplant practice, and manages the team responsible for media relations in Minnesota. Her role also involves issues management and crisis communications efforts, as well as documentary projects at Mayo Clinic.
Ginger holds a Master of Arts in mass communications from North Dakota State University, with an emphasis on issues management and crisis communications, and a Bachelor of Arts in public relations from the University of North Dakota. She has over 25 years of experience in communications and public relations, mostly for non-profit and healthcare organizations.
Ginger lives in Rochester, Minnesota with her two school-aged daughters and Lexi the goldendoodle.
Owner, Public Relations Consultant
Ryan Davenport is owner and founder of DavenPR, a Minneapolis-based solo PR practice launched in 2016. Ryan serves clients in healthcare, technology, law enforcement and other community-focused organizations. Ryan started his career in the newsroom, after earning a degree in journalism from the University of St. Thomas. He first interned, then became a reporter and producer at CBS affiliate KDLH-TV in Duluth. In Minneapolis, he wrote and reported national news for a 24-hour news channel seen in 65 markets nationwide. Eventually, Ryan made a cold-blooded decision to abandon journalism and join the Dark Side: Public relations. He began as an account executive at Weber Shandwick. Then it was manager of media relations at Fairview Health Services. At Fairview and later, Boston Scientific, Ryan pitched stories to local, national and trade media. He also navigated several high-profile media crises and counseled leadership on media strategy. Ryan also has a side-hustle: He leads a technology start-up, Davenport SAF-T Systems. The company is developing a wearable technology for seniors, designed to reduce their risk of injuries from falls.