The current Ebola outbreak in West Africa is the worst in known history. To date, more than 900 patients have died during this outbreak—that’s more than one-third of all people known to have died from the Ebola virus since it was discovered in 1976. As the outbreak has spread, so too has the public’s concern about the virus. And now that two American health workers infected with the disease are being treated on U.S. soil, many are worried that the virus could now spread in the states.

The public’s concern didn’t deter Emory University Hospital from offering to treat those two patients. While doctors are busy caring for the Ebola patients, the hospital’s PR staff has been working around the clock to address the public’s fears.

What could have been a PR nightmare for the hospital has been handled with poise, transparency and accessibility.

 

Traditional media

Emory University Hospital was ready to go with an announcement on August 1. With well-trained spokesperson and infectious disease expert Dr. Bruce Ribner at the helm and carefully crafted messaging, the hospital hosted a press conference, granting reporters open access to information.

That day, Dr. Ribner took CNN’s Dr. Sanjay Gupta on a televised tour of the special isolation unit the patients would be treated in and explained the precautions the hospital would be taking to ensure that the risk of transmitting the virus was mitigated.  

Throughout the week, the hospital has continued to provide updates on the patients and has continued to respond to the public’s concerns. For example, Emory Healthcare’s Chief Nursing Officer Susan Mitchell Grant, RN, penned a piece for the Washington Post explaining why Emory offered to treat the patients and that they are properly prepared to treat them.

 

Social media

Since July 31—when it was announced that the two American Ebola patients would be treated at Emory University Hospital—all of the content posted to the hospital’s Twitter feed has been focused on Ebola. They’re regularly providing critical updates and sharing accurate information about the virus to dispel misinformation.

The hospital has also been using its blog—Advancing Your Health—to more thoroughly explain the situation and address concerns.

Kudos to Emory University Hospital!