Prologue: My favorite part of advertising is meeting new creative minds and sharing and solving problems. This year, I began to ask friends, colleagues, clients (past and present), and even competitors in healthcare marketing to “Take 3” and discuss trends they see developing, explore challenges, and discuss opportunities. Since I know this is asking a lot of very busy folks, as motivation for every interview, Access will make a $500 donation to Make-A-Wish Greater Virginia, with the goal being to produce enough interviews this year to grant one wish.
Take 3 with Victor Harrington, Regional Director, Marketing and Business Development: UP Health System
- Victor, since we last worked together, you became the regional director for all three hospitals in the UP Health System (UPHS). Tell us a little bit about that journey for you and the changes in the UP.
The healthcare industry has evolved greatly over the last five to 10 years. In rural communities like ours, many hospitals have faced significant operational challenges. In the UP, we are fortunate and appreciative to have a healthcare system in a position of strength and with tremendous growth opportunity as we look into the future. As the regional marketing director of three hospitals and over 10 clinics across our region, I have an opportunity to serve communities across the UP and support our mission of Making Communities Healthier. We have come a long way since forming UP Health System in 2014, and I’m excited to see what the next five to 10 years look like!
- Now, almost five years later, you and your team are about to realize a huge milestone with the opening of a new, state-of-the-art, 275-bed, 700,000-sq.-ft. hospital in Marquette. What kind of an impact will this make on your system and what are the challenges and opportunities with overseeing such a huge undertaking?
The replacement hospital in Marquette is going to be a game changer for us. Our existing hospital has been built in pieces over the last 100+ years. The layout is inefficient and patient wayfinding is extremely difficult. The new hospital provides improved access, wayfinding, and a state-of-the-art medical facility that truly is an asset for the entire Upper Peninsula. With a total investment of more than $330 million, we have built a healthcare destination center for our region to prevent the outmigration of healthcare services into Wisconsin and Lower Michigan. The new facility is absolutely beautiful. We can’t wait to open the doors and share with our communities this spring.
UP Health System – Marquette is enhancing the medical community and economic development in the region with its plans to construct a new, $300 million hospital campus. Groundbreaking is slated for spring 2016 and occupancy in spring of 2019. The new hospital campus will include a state-of-the-art, 265-bed hospital and 80,000 square foot medical office building, and will be located in the heart of Marquette on a 37-acre site known as the “Roundhouse Property.”
- What do you see as the biggest challenge for healthcare companies and marketing in the upcoming year?
We will continue to see challenges in rural medicine in the years ahead. But as I mentioned, we have put ourselves in a position of great strength at UPHS. Not just because of the new hospital, but with a focus on excellence, quality, and providing excellent care for our patients. We have talented, compassionate, and caring people working at UPHS. Our teams take pride in caring for our communities.
Healthcare in the UP is very competitive. Our communities have a choice when it comes to where to receive their care. Those that focus on excellence and creating a great experience will be successful. In marketing, I’m fortunate to have the opportunity to share the great work being done by our teams, the great outcomes for our patients, and help keep care right here in the UP for years to come.
In March of 2014, Access was asked by LifePoint Health to help assess the brand equity of three recently acquired hospitals in Michigan: Portage Hospital, Bell Hospital, and Marquette Medical Center. Our research led LifePoint to create a new health system in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan called UP Health System, which Access supported with public relations and marketing materials for the brand launch in conjunction with the in-house team at LifePoint. Along the way, we worked with a lot of great people. While we no longer work with LifePoint Health, Victor and I have stayed in touch and I have enjoyed the journey he and his team are on to revolutionize healthcare in the upper peninsula of Michigan. Which is, by the way, the record holder for the coldest day we have ever conducted focus groups — 17 below zero. I did NOT pack accordingly. Lesson learned.