By Mike Milligan, President of Legato Healthcare Marketing
I read a lot of “good riddance to 2020” sentiments, and understandably so. As we know, just because the calendar changed, we’re still not out of the woods. But before we declare 2020 null and void with the disdain it deserves and move on to a 2021 with hope and promise, let’s not forget that 2020 had many upsides. And I’m not talking about being able to wear shorts on a zoom call.
2020 will forever be defined by COVID-19. Yet as the new year unfolds, I can’t help but look to the future with optimism, inspired by the past 12 months.
When a pandemic of unfathomable proportions struck from out of nowhere, hospitals and clinics turned on a dime to respond. Rural healthcare facilities already faced with financial challenges braced for COVID-19’s indelible impact on their staffs, their bottom lines and the communities they served.
As the pandemic spread, I spoke with rural healthcare leaders nearly every day. Most were clients. Some were not. All were struggling to stay afloat while fighting the pandemic on multiple fronts. We teamed together to navigate the uncharted waters of COVID-19.
What inspires me to this day is how empathy and compassion have shaped every decision – not only in the exam room, but in the board room. I know this happens to healthcare organizations of all sizes, but there’s just something special about rural hospitals. I think it’s because rural hospital workers are engrained in their local communities, and they know they’re not only working double shifts for their patients, but they’re giving their all for their neighbors, their friends and their families.
Navigating – together
We – our clients and Legato – made many difficult decisions together, especially in the weeks that followed the initial spread of COVID-19. This included putting virtually all revenue-driving marketing campaigns and non-crisis communications on hold. To be honest, I was concerned about what these cancellations would mean to Legato’s business. But I reminded myself and our staff that this wasn’t about what was best for our firm. Just as our business partners pivoted to focus on battling the pandemic, we would pivot our marketing efforts to help them do just that.
At the risk of sounding like a proud parent, I’d like to share how proud I am of the Legato team. They created a “COVID-19 Call-first Communications Toolkit” in record time to help rural hospitals take the lead in helping protect the communities they served. The Toolkit was available free of charge to hospitals throughout the nation. To date, more than 1,000 toolkits have been downloaded.
Let’s build upon these successes together to continue to overcome our setbacks, and to become even stronger because of our challenges. Let’s stay vigilant, yet hopeful, and continue to inspire as a rural health community. I’m amazed at the countless examples of courage, resilience, compassion and triumph over tragedy that I have witnessed personally and professionally.
I am also inspired by the innovation and improvements that emerged as a result of the crisis. Innovations that bring new opportunities for growth; new opportunities to better serve the changing needs and dynamics of rural communities.
2021 is shaping up to be the year the pandemic is brought under control. While no one knows what the future holds, you can be sure that Legato is well prepared to help you move forward, inspired by the learnings and experiences we’ve shared during the past year.
Here’s to a happy, healthy and prosperous new year!