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Public Service Campaign Addresses National Overcrowding Issue

Baptist Memorial Health Care is making its educational emergency room campaign available to other hospitals and health care organizations across the country interested in addressing the national overcrowding issue and related ER issues in their own markets.

Launched in November 2003 in the metropolitan-Memphis area, it is a three-tiered campaign that focuses on national ER overcrowding, urgent vs. emergent care issues, the importance of the flu shot, urgent care center promotions, communication with patients and family members inside an ER and the creation of a nontraditional volunteer corps.

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“ER overcrowding is a national crisis, but locally we’re doing something about it,” said Echelle Lane Rutschman, system director of corporate communications and senior communications officer at Baptist Memorial Health Care. “We’re committed to enhancing the collective lives of the communities we serve, and this campaign is an extension of our commitment. And our efforts have resonated with many hospitals across the country that are interested in this same message and positive outcomes in their own communities.”

While the campaign is still being implemented by Baptist, the organization already has seen success through its executed phases, according to Rutschman. Since its launch, the campaign has prompted more than 30 news stories, including coverage by many national industry publications and news services. Only a few months after implementation, more than 85.2 percent of survey respondents in the organization's quarterly public opinion poll identified that emergency room overcrowding is a national issue. Public preference for Baptist’s emergency services increased from 33.1 percent in June 2003 to 42.9 percent in December 2003, after implementation of the campaign. According to those same public opinion poll results from December 2003, 45 percent of respondents said they had seen ads, public service announcements or news stories about ER overcrowding.