Our Foundation department works closely with both the External Affairs and Strategic Marketing departments to serve as diplomats for the community and keep our important constituents, partners, donors, patients and families informed about our healthcare facilities and services. But, racing back through four states from North Carolina to Florida, I realized that all of our corporate departments had the responsibility to collaborate even more effectively on a whole new level because news of the shooting was traveling very fast and broadly.
Our organization was thrown onto the international stage with media outlets camped out for the days and weeks following this horrific event. Our teams handled everything from press conferences to requests from politicians, celebrities and the President to donations of money (for patients, their families and our hospital staff), gift cards and food deliveries to visitation requests from everyone you could possibly imagine.
We were all inundated with people just wanting to help. Our responsibility was to direct them in the most appropriate way to support the efforts of our clinical and administrative teams, our now 44 patients and their families, and the entire community as we came to grips with the magnitude of the mass casualty that would impact Orlando and its residents forever.
I spent the 10-hour drive home on my cell phone working with many colleagues and our teams to help develop plans and to gather resources for the extraordinary level of inquiries we would receive from people all over the world. Our responsibility was to guide them through not only an immediate response to this event, but also through the weeks and months until our last patient was discharged and even through the one-year anniversary of the Pulse shootings. Our teams updated the messaging on all of our social media outlets; we notified our switchboard; we held endless conference calls to make edits and changes in response to the community’s requests and needs, always with the goal of doing the right thing.
At the foundation, we had a special team (from interns to executives) who agreed to help answer the volumes of emails and phone calls. We had to set up funds to account for the gifts from the community. .We worked closely with the local community foundation as well as the mayor’s office to ensure we were all in unison on how and where money would be directed. We always are concerned about illegitimate or fraudulent charities or “go fund me” sites that crop up in these relief efforts (goodwill looters) that try to take advantage of people’s kindness. Our teams handled things very well and when we didn’t, we were flexible enough to make adjustments. The playbook is dynamic when you serve in a diplomatic role facing out toward the community in a very tense and emotional tragedy such as this. But we are professionals who work for a hospital and are conditioned for crises.