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Insider North

Insider North Volume 1, Issue 2
Front page...

PVH, MCR stroke programs improve patient outcomes
High Park Fire evacuation in Poudre Canyon came as a surprise
High Park Fire: Building connections in crisis
Employees tell their High Park Fire stories and share their photos
Moving ahead with or without the Supreme Court
Job switch at the top of UC Health
New emergency department, surgery center bring Greeley more than medical benefits
Top Box: Passion for patient satisfaction
UCH stroke program earns third straight joint commission certification
Hospital video updates: June 20, 2012
Not going to the dogs is the way to go
Helicopter program flies to success
Nurse donates breast milk by the gallon
Poudre Valley Hospital’s concierge represents customer service at its best
Garden Fresh makes for fresh health
Got sport? Three physicians offer tips on avoiding injuries
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High Park Fire: Building connections in crisis

 

University of Colorado Health is reaching out to help staff and community members through the most destructive fire in state history.

Insider_062012_HighParkSupport.jpg
 
UCHealth staff members in northern Colorado signed banners thanking firefighters and first responders on the High Park Fire.
 
 
 
 
 
 

Our foothills are part of us. Everyone has some kind of personal connection to the beauty of northern Colorado.

That is why coming to terms with the High Park Fire that started June 9 has been complex for many employees and community members.

Most impacted are those who lost their homes, as well as those who have been evacuated and remain wondering when or if they can go home again.

[Related: How one employee escaped as flames rolled down the mountain]

Fire responders -- firefighters from many agencies and emergency response personnel, including paramedics and EMTs from Poudre Valley Hospital's ambulance services -- have worked tirelessly through the High Park Fire to serve community members and the lands.

At a time of such shared crisis, it's natural to seek connections and ways to help others deal with such a disaster.

With an eye toward helping the University of Colorado Health staff and community members in northern Colorado through the disaster, the marketing team began daily fire communication meetings after the fire started.

At first, the effort was more procedural in case crisis response needed to be activated. Team members worked closely with the Larimer County Public Communicators group, a consortium of regional civic and support agency communications professionals, to ensure services were available for keeping the public informed.

By Tuesday, four days after the fire started, it appeared unlikely that Poudre Valley Hospital and Medical Center of the Rockies would be activated for major medical crises related to the fire. Still, the marketing team recognized that communications needs would remain high.

"We knew every staff member would be dealing with this catastrophe on some level," said Sandra Larson, a marketing specialist who lived in New York during the 9/11 terrorist attacks. "Acknowledging sadness, fear or the sense of powerlessness during crisis is an important way to help people know they aren't alone."

[Related: How University of Colorado Health is supporting employees, the community and first responders]

The marketing team developed and distributed information related to the fire, including ways to thank responders and share concern for people who lost homes or were evacuated.

"This was all in the interest of giving tangible support to the staff and community during a stressful time," Larson said. "In a lot of ways, we just worked on providing information that we were craving, too. Listening to our own reflections on the crisis helped."

The marketing team created messages to help address the emotional needs of both employees and community members. The team helped gain the approval of a $35,000 UCHealth donation to the American Red Cross in northern Colorado, and the Poudre Canyon and Rist Canyon volunteer fire protection districts.

The marketing team issued numerous news bulletins to update employees and created videos to offer helpful health information related to coping with the fire and smoke. The team also organized significant donations of goods to the evacuee relief effort.

[Related: Employees share stories, pictures from the High Park Fire]

A simple but poignant connection came from the creation of four banners designed to express a heartfelt thank you to firefighters and emergency medical responders. The banners were available June 15 through June 18 for employees to sign.

Covered with employee-written messages like "You are the true heroes," "Thank you for saving my home" and "Your work is in our hearts," the banners were will be delivered to the respite camp for the firefighters and responders, and displayed for them to view.

By June 15, the end of the first week of the fire response, Kevin Darst, the northern Colorado marketing director, said he was struck by the compassion his team and UCHealth showed for employees and community members affected by the fire.

"Members of our team have escaped 100-foot walls of fire, taken in patients' pets, housed evacuated families, conceived of and facilitated cash and food donations to those in need, written messages that moved a community, and made it possible for our employees to offer public thanks and encouragement to first responders and firefighters. Meanwhile, we pulled together experts and resources for a community searching for ways to deal with a significant natural disaster."

"This wasn't about ‘marketing,'" Darst said. "This was about doing what's right for the community we serve and are part of."

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