Children's National Hospital director of strategic communications Josh Wilson tells Doug Simon that some of the biggest challenges that the pandemic threw his way centered on internal communications. "There was a huge volume of information, and then a big demand to know what was going on. I think our employees, like everybody else, were interested in what they needed to know to do their jobs better."
Those employees also played a key role in getting that information out to the public. "Our best spokespeople are our employees, and we were really fortunate to have a lot of employees who, in addition to caring for children and families in the community, saw it as part of their duty to educate the public."
In the wake of the "Great Resignation," Wilson says, frequent and clear communications with employees are essential. "Probably more frequent communication than you might think you need, and repeating important messages more frequently, and in more channels because people are being bombarded with information."
He also says that communicators need to let people ask questions. "Even if you can't answer it in real time, having a source of truth for them to go to, to get those answers after the fact" is key.
Wilson says that committing to DE&I efforts remains important. During the pandemic, "we really doubled down on our investments to making our organization more equitable and embracing some of the changes that we needed to make."
The benefits of DE&I also extend to the patients that the hospital reaches. "We know that children and adults have a better outcome when the provider looks like them, that there's a greater, deeper trust that develops and that's really the foundation to better care."
He tells Simon that, like internal comms, external communications also benefit from clear and repeated messaging. "I think it's having clarity in your message and then delivering it in as many channels as possible."
The goal of saving children's lives, Wilson says, makes the complexity of handling the situation worthwhile. "To be able to put those pediatric leaders out there to answer questions that families had" was essential, he tells Simon, in "helping families decide that this was the right choice for them."
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