Happy Nurses Week: Building A Stronger Nursing Workforce for Tomorrow – Today. #NursesWeek

For over a year, I have been working on a project that has truly challenged and stretched my capabilities in new and exciting ways. I was part of a creative team who partnered with South Carolina Hospital Association (SCHA) to launch a national brand…and it was a lot of fun.

The for-profit arm of South Carolina Hospital Association previously known as Healthcare Staffing Services (HSS) was rebranded as Qualivis. This rebrand was necessary to further align the goals of HSS positioning the new Qualivis as a national provider of healthcare workforce solutions.

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Big Win for SC Mission 2012 – #CHPRMS Fall Conference

Thursday night the SC Hospital Association Team was awarded three Wallie Awards and a Golden Tusk award at the 2013 Carolinas Healthcare Public Relations & Marketing Society Fall Conference. By the way, the fall conference was held at the Grove Park Inn in Asheville…such a nice place!

I was a part of the team that produced a short documentary about the SC Mission 2012 event in Columbia, SC. This production won a Silver Wallie Award and a Golden Tusk award.  Below is the video from the event. EXCITED!!!

#SCMission2013 Photoessay – Faces of the Unisured

So many faces…so many people in need…I was completely overwhelmed. It was 5am and as I pulled into the Charleston Coliseum parking lot, it was not immediately noticeable if there was a sizable turnout for the SCMission2103 Lowcountry Free Clinic.

As I parked, pulled my gear together and made my way to the coliseum…the line appeared. The line wrapped around the coliseum, people waiting in-line all night for a chance to receive care.

I met Bill Plank (pictured directly above), and he drove from Anderson to Charleston to see a doctor. Anderson is my home town, like him, I drove 3.5 hours to Charleston. Yet, he drove the night before, spent the night in the car so that he could be close to the front of the line. His goal: to be seen by a physician as soon as possible. I was thankful he spent a few minutes with me to share his story.

The photos in the slideshow at the top of this page are a part of a photo essay I captured on Friday. I knew I could spend time capturing stories from individuals and volunteers…most importantly, I wanted to capture the faces or the uninsured. I wanted to capture their expressions, their context, their story.

These are the faces of the uninsured, right here in South Carolina. They are a part of the 250 thousand uninsured individuals that could benefit from access to quality medical care. They look like you and I, they have families, bills to pay, children to feed…they are human. These are their faces.

So here is a little information about SC Mission 2013 Lowcountry. South Carolina Hospital Association and Access Health SC partnered with many community organizations in Charleston in an effort to organize and execute a two day free clinic for those in need. From free medical, dental, and vision care…hundreds and hundreds of people waited to be seen this Friday morning.

Passion can be found in someone’s story!

Meet Dot…she is amazing and has a powerful story to tell. Many people camp out all night for iPhones, iPads, and other gadgets. She camped out all night to be the first in-line to receive free medical care. Why? She needed it and was willing to just about anything for the opportunity. To me…that is about as entrepreneurial as it gets!

From TheState.com
There were more than 1,300 patient interactions at the SC Mission 2013 this past Friday and Saturday in Columbia, SC at the State Fairgrounds.

Patients received healthcare, eye care, prescriptions and women’s care, including pap smears and mammograms.

The SC Mission aims to meet the needs of residents who are underserved an uninsured. There were about 1,000 clinical and non-clinical volunteers including about 500 healthcare professionals such as doctors, nurses and optometrists.

These individuals, those 1300 people that came through the doors have passion. Their story surrounds us here in South Carolina with over 250,000 people who are uninsured.

Many times we have a hard time getting out of bed in the morning. Or we are not motivated to get the day started. Sometimes it is hard to make that first step on a project or we have been procrastinating with that todo list.

I took note this past Friday. People like Dot and the 1300 individuals that waited inline to receive medical care. Many of them made sure they were first in line, waiting all night.

Passion…very entrepreneurial to me!

Case Study: AccessHealth SC – Communicating A Healthy Conversation

Access to quality health care here in South Carolina has consumed the public conversation over the last few years. From the Affordable Care Act to hospitals seeking to find new and innovative ways to deal with the growing needs of the uninsured…we are surrounded by the groundswell of health care discourse.

For the past few years, I have been working with the South Carolina Hospital Association to find and tell the stories of the uninsured. Initiatives like AccessHealth SC are special, focusing on those uninsured individuals to not only provide access to quality health care but also a continuum of care.

Over the last 5 months, we have been capturing stories of the uninsured across South Carolina. We have also been working with AccessHealth SC providers and administrators explaining how this healthy initiative can be a model for health care reform.

Purpose of the Video Project (from AccessHealth SC):
“The motivation for capturing AccessHealth SC client and provider stories was two-fold. The primary purpose of the video was to communicate what exactly we are doing through AccessHealth. The idea of collaborative networks of care for the uninsured and underinsured is a bit cumbersome; it doesn’t slip neatly into conversations or presentations and the evidence-based, logical model can get lost on people. This project allowed us to really unpack what it is our networks do and the good sense that they make. A model of providing medical care that addresses social needs makes sense, but when you package it up in a few words with little explanation-lights go out.”

“The project also allowed us to highlight the human impact of our work, the individuals who are using medical services more appropriately, who are better able to manage their chronic diseases, and who are living healthier lives. Even more than putting a face to an outcome, it provided our clients an avenue to share their stories and their hope restored; as cliché as it sounds, this video was an opportunity for them to be heard. As we work to promote dignity and respect in the services our networks connect to, this was vital.”

As we were developing the story line (along with crafting the script), we began having this conversation whether to include statistics and numerical information explaining the economic impact of the program. In the world of video production, many times it is hard to visually showcase information in a compelling manor.

We used graphic animation to bring the numbers to life. You will notice the following video is a smaller section of the video above. We felt this could stand alone as a simple explanation of the AccessHealth SC model and the value it brings to the State of South Carolina.

Purpose of this Information Video (from AccessHealth SC):
“Communicating the economic impact our of our work was important to us because of the stakeholders we are/were hoping to engage. Most often, the individuals within organizations in communities that have the push or say to actually catalyze change speak in numbers and outcomes. Not only was this speaking their language-but drawing their attention to significant results.”

These videos have been launched online and for internal presentational purposes. AccessHealth SC will use these videos to share the visual context of their mission as they present to stakeholders, hospitals, community groups, legislators, and other individuals interested in building a healthier South Carolina.

These videos will also live on the AccessHealth SC section of the SCHA.org website. Our goal, to educate and advocate to those searching for information concerning programs like AccessHealth SC. We want to be a part of the digital paradigm as people search for content related to health in South Carolina.

Three Years and Rolling! 11 Things I Have Learned as an Entrepreneur

It is amazing…I am sitting here enjoying a 3 year birthday. This is not a birthday for a person, this is a 3 year birthday for my business. Bobby Rettew, llc is now three years old and I am excited, humbled, and reflective.

I asked myself this morning, how did we get here, how did we make it this far? Three years ago, Sarah and I made the decision to start this business with only one long-term signed agreement…but lots of relationships willing to engage.

The economy was in the tank coming off one the biggest recessions since the great depression. I remember getting ready for Christmas, Sarah and I were counting every dollar projecting how long we could make it if we did not sign another deal. It became a game, how much cash could we put away providing a little more security…especially if we did not pick up another client.

We had just bought a house a year earlier, two cars that needed to be replaced, and planning to have a child. I am thankful in 2006 we started one of the tasks we have ever under taken; paying off all of our un-secured debt. That effort was one of the major reasons we are here today.

So where do we stand today? Wow, I am working out of my own office, I have a wonderful set of relationships who are clients, Rose is now a little over a year old, and the business is growing. We spent two and a half years working out of a small office in the back of the house, building a business slowly on a sound fiscal approach…CASH IS KING.

I remember five years ago, I was taking a class learning how to start a small business. I remember how naive I was when the instructors explained the two-year mark is the toughest to achieve for any small business. Here we stand at 3…and growing.

There are so many things I have learned, so I wanted to share a few:

1. It is ok to be a small business.
I read a powerful book last year that really spoke to me, Rework by 37signals. Most of you might know 37Signals and even use some of their products like Basecamp. This book emphasized it is ok to be small, embrace it and leverage it. We live in the upstate of South Carolina surrounded by high-impact high-growth businesses and conversations. So many meetings I sit in, so many people I meet, so many entrepreneurial groups I interact with…the message is all about high-impact and high-growth. That is not for me and it was hard to resist. For the first two years, I thought I was going to have to pivot this business to become a high-impact venture. What I learned…it is ok to be small, especially for my current business model. Less stress, less overhead, more opportunity.

2. Live your passion.
I love working with people helping them tell and share their story. I also love to teach. Nothing more and nothing less. This has translated well into my business as I work with groups to capture and tell their story using documentary storytelling. From telling stories of grants with the Duke Endowment, stories of health care advocacy for South Carolina Hospital Association, stories of health care for Greenville Hospital System, to stories of advocacy for groups like Safe Harbor, to even stories of inspiration for the Clemson Athletic Hall of Fame…the list is growing.

This is also true with the three groups that I have helped grow their digital brand. If you look at Greenville Hospital System, IT-oLogy, and Serrus Capital Partners…we have been growing their social media presence as a part of their strategic initiatives of their communication efforts.

And finally, it is so true when it comes to teaching. Over the last year, I have been working with the new MBA in Entrepreneurship and Innovation at Clemson University as the Digital Communications Instructor, teaching students how to take their business ideas and share them online in the social/digital space.

3. You just can’t do it all!
It is ok to ask for help and empower those who have a larger skill set to help you achieve your goals. So many projects I take on, I realize I have no idea how to tackle small or even large parts of the goals. I have learned to ask for help. I am one person and I am a small business…there is no way I can do it all. Getting help is fun and promotes good business and a collaborative environment.

4. Take on projects and opportunities that scare the CRAP out of you.
Yes…this is what helps me grow both personally and professionally. Sometimes we need to be challenged, but these projects help us learn how to problem-solve and stretch our professional capabilities.

5. Read as much as possible.
I try to read as many books as I can for both business and personal growth. My brain needs nourishment and reading helps me stay sharp. I also subscribe to lots of blogs surrounding numerous topics areas. My Google Reader is loaded with tons of content to read on a daily basis like business blogs from Harvard Business Review to personal blogs from my friends who are screen writers.

6. Have a good CPA and Lawyer as a colleague and a friend.
My CPA is TJ Way and he was a fraternity brother at Clemson. We lived together when we were fresh out of school and now he is a vital part of my business. Andy Arnold is my attorney, a client, a friend, and is surprisingly a Gamecock. Oh well…but he is just a phone call away with my questions about contracts or our personal living wills.

7. Make time for the family.
This was a hard lesson for me to learn during the second year of my business. During year two, Rose was born and I was balancing my current passions with my newest passion, our little girl. So I learned at the end of the day to cut off business, close the laptop, and enjoy time with the family. This was one of the reasons I moved out of the little home office into my current office. I wanted to be able to come home and be home. There are times when I might work late or work longer, but Sarah and I have learned to integrate family into a small business. This is an ever-learning process…but is vital for the soul.

8. Give your time.
I do not have a lot of time to give, but I try to do one thing…give my time to one non-profit/advocacy group. Each year, I pick a non-profit where I feel connected. I donate my time as if they are a client. For the last year and a half, I have been working with Safe Harbor and they have a powerful mission. I try to make them feel like a client, providing my time and expertise to their initiatives. The best part, I learn from them and we grow together. To me…good business growth is more that just making money.

9. Go on vacation…A LOT!
Seriously, go on vacation at least three to four times a year. This is a huge priority for our family and we have learned that I must leave the laptop, turn on the email auto-responder, and go relax. This allows us to get away from the grind, enjoy some time together, and relax. Rest is huge if you run a small business…getting away is food for the soul.

10. Continue to Focus
Take time at the end of the year to assess your business. Look at more than your financials…look to see if you business goals/mission matches your passions. Look to see if the type of business you are doing matches your balance sheet. Then, ask yourself is this where you want your business to continue to grow. Then focus and write your plan for the next year.

11. Be an Advocate.
Advocate for something. Stand upon some alter and render an opinion. Pick a cause, an initiative, something and advocate. You never know…you might find your calling…your passion.

* Image Credit -> MomOfTheYear.net Blog

Telling stories in annual reports…stories take the main stage.

This is a project I have enjoyed working on this past summer. This year, The Duke Endowment released their annual report using storytelling as the main communication initiative. I worked with them to find and tell stories inside each of the grants they support, exposing the audience to true core of this initiative.

I love how they used an integrated communications approach on so many facets:

1) They use artwork to paint the picture of the initiatives. As you look through the report, everything appears to be painted on a canvas.

2) The report has an online version inside their website with video as a major component. Each video is a story from inside the grant The Duke Endowment supports. I love this approach, because it paints a visual picture how the grant truly impacts individuals.  This done by allowing the person to tell their story using their own personal narrative.

3) Love the printed report that is colorful and integrates QR codes linking the audience from the printed story to the video.

4) Finally, they distributed through their network using an email blast along with making the videos unlisted on their YouTube account. This is done so they can effectively track the analytics. They know that the views on the videos will be coming directly from the email blast via the annual report online.

5) I love commitment to video specifically the use short documentary storytelling. I work closely with their communications team to find, create, and produce the video content. They were very committed to telling rich stories, allowing each video to maintain their voice using the subject’s own personal narrative.

Quick Links to learn more:
1) The Duke Endowment’s Online Annual Report – CLICK HERE
2) The Duke Endowment’s Printed Annual Report – CLICK HERE
3) The Duke Endowment’s YouTube Account – CLICK HERE

Telling the un-expected story – SC Mission 2012

Are we open to tell the stories that un-expectantly emerge? So many times we have a pre-conceived notion of a storyline, especially at the beginning of a project. We picture it in our head. We imagine how it will come together. We plan each shot, each interview, the music, the graphics…we have all the answers before the camera is pulled out.

It happens to all of us…we want to control and shape the message from the very beginning. But we better be careful, you never know what might be lurking around the corner and we might just miss it.

This happened to me  last month in Columbia at SC Mission 2012. (Video Above)

“The SC Mission 2012 clinic was held at the South Carolina State Fairgrounds where volunteers provided free medical, dental and vision services. SC Mission 2012’s goal was to provide services and match patients to a medical home where they can continue to receive the care they need. More than 2000 patients were seen and a total of 2100 volunteers including physicians, nurses, dentists, optometrists, pharmacy, nursing and medical students and lay persons helped make the clinic possible. More than 2000 patients were seen in all three services areas during the two-day event.”

I go into these productions always wanting to advocate for the patient. I want to find the patient story that inspires us to challenge and reform the way we deliver care. I wanted to shape the final piece around the patient’s faces, voices, and experiences.

The patient story was only a small portion of this year’s message and I almost dismissed the obvious…the stories of the volunteers. These individuals that gave their time, energy, and compassion during this two day event. These are the people that move South Carolina forward.

I spent the whole time during the shoot trying to find that un-believable patient story. I was struggling to find that one interview that moved the needle forward. Yes…there were a lot of great interviews, but I was comparing this event to the patient stories we found in 2010. CLICK HERE to watch SC Mission 2010’s video.

But after spending a whole day with Shalama Jackson (SCHA.org) capturing patient stories, volunteer stories, and the sights and sounds of the day…I went back to review. Patti Smoake (of SCHA.org) and I found something even more special, I had captured some tremendous interviews from the volunteers. I did not realize it at the time, but the volunteers shared something special, their passion. It was Patti that helped me look through a different lens as we crafted this piece together.

We always advocate for the patient and YES, we wanted that one patient story that would move the audience. But it was the volunteer’s voice in this story, the voice that not only advocated for the patient but the movement to provide better access to care.

There is something special about Jupiter

It has been one of those days where something un-expectantly happened…something that has not happened in a long time. As I was working on some emails, I received a note from a client. Steve Mudge of Serrus Capital Partners sent me an email congratulating me for being awarded SCPRSA’s Inaugural Jupiter Award.

I was thinking, how the heck did he find out…the awards ceremony was just last Thursday evening. He sent me a link from an email newsletter he receives daily from Midlandbiz.com with my picture at the top. It has been a while since I did the awards thing…so long, that I actually forgot what is was all about.

Back in my television days, I was a member of the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences (NATAS) and numerous other organizations that hand out awards for broadcast television excellence. I have been a part of the judging committees for numerous regions including the Carolinas and the West Coast. It was a part of my culture every year to submit for awards…basically taking the time to pick my best work, fill out the applications, pay hundreds and hundreds of dollars, and sit back and wait.

I have been on numerous judging committees across the country and was even the person that put together all the television station’s entries, making sure everything is edited correctly, applications were correct, the right amount of money was included, the correct categories corresponded with the entries, and so on. It was a part of my television culture… at-least I was a part of this television culture of competition.

I was even a part of the competitive culture that work harder on stories that we knew had a tremendous opportunity to win awards. It was a part of that competitive culture of validation. The trophy case led to bigger jobs, promotions, bigger raises, bigger projects…and ultimately the ego boost.

Over the years, I have been awarded numerous regional Emmy awards, AP Awards, NPPA Awards, and many other awards across numerous organizations. I have won international competitions as an academic and presented at numerous conferences to share research from my graduate school days. But none of this compared to what happened last week…nothing.

A few weeks ago, I found out I was going to be awarded something special from the South Carolina of the Public Relations Society of America. Kelly Davis dropped me a note asking if I would be available on May 3rd to come to Columbia. Shortly after, I received an email from Karen Potter of Greenville Hospital System and Patti Smoake of South Carolina Hospital Association sharing the news. They had nominated me for the inaugural Jupiter Award to be awarded during SCPRSA’s 2012 Mercury Awards Ceremony. I was shocked.

Fast forward to Thursday’s event at Columbia’s Springdale House and Gardens. What an evening. It started out like most awards ceremonies, passing out statues for hard work. Each award probably had numerous applicants competing, sharing their best work from the past year. Sarah and I sat at Greenville Hospital System’s table with Karen Potter and Patti Smoake among many others. The anticipation was rising.

When it was time for the individual awards, I thought I was going to be asked to stand to be honored. Not the case…I sat an listened to a long write-up about me. First of all, this is the first time I have ever heard someone share this much about me in such a public forum, among so many distinguished guests. The more that was read, the more I was unsure what to do…I was humbled.

It is one thing to spend a whole year working to do you best work, then compile it all together with application fees and persuasive write-ups to encourage the judges to choose you. But is it another thing to have someone (a friend, colleague, and client) take the time to write something special and submit for an award. I had no idea what was written. I had no idea I was chosen. I had no idea.

The Jupiter Award “was presented to three individuals for exceptional contributions to the use of social media as a communications tool. SCPRSA presented three awards in this category, representing each of the chapter’s regions.” As a former broadcast journalist, my career was surrounded professionally telling stories for television. Now, my business helps organizations use social and digital media to tell stories. Now that I am no longer in the broadcast industry and work for myself, this award is pure validation. A sense of validation for me and my business. I am humbled!

Here is the article from Midlandbiz.com – CLICK HERE
Here is the press release from SCPRSA – CLICK HERE
Here is a link to SCPRSA’s website – CLICK HERE

 ***The top image is from SCPRSA as seen on Midlandsbiz.com.

We are human…

I am right smack in the middle of this mess. It is a mess and it is so disheartening. I have grown up around the world of healthcare. My mother is a nurse and has worked for Greenville Hospital System as long as I can remember. She has worked as nurse manager in the operating room, worked in the emergency room, became a nurse practitioner, and has served in many free medical clinics.

As a new media marketer, I have clients that have many different positions in this healthcare debate. I work with a hospital association (SCHA) that advocates for the patient, major hospital system, insurance provider, insurance broker, and I am a small business owner paying my own medical insurance. I see many different view-points of this debate.

Each month, I write a big check for my HSA plan to cover me and my wife. It is expensive and for a while Sarah and I went without insurance. I am also an advocate for access to care. I have produced more short documentaries showing those who cannot and will not ever be able to afford health insurance and decent medical care. I also have sat in the emergency departments and listened to my mother tell stories of those who have abused the system…from Medicaid, Medicare, and the list goes on. So why do I write about this topic…because I am human.

When you sift through the semantics and the political maneuvering…the bottom-line, we are humans. We as humans should be able to have access to those who can provide care. I remember doing an interview with a woman who had lost her job, looking for work, and all she needed was her high-blood pressure medication. She was so embarrassed to ask for help. This free medical clinic provided six months of medication for her…and let’s think how this has helped. If she did not receive this medication…her risk of having a heart attack increase dramatically. If she has a heart attack, 911 is called, she would be transported to an ER/ED, put into a critical-care unit, and the bill starts mounting up. Guess what…she would not be able to pay. The hospital would have to eat the cost of these services. Simple preventative medication and access to this care can prevent thousands of dollars in written off billing. This scenario happens everyday.

When I mean that humans deserve access to care, I believe in preventative care. Access to preventative care and patient education is key to the success of tomorrow healthcare system. I believe in providing affordable, competitive insurance to those across the board. Why is it that the one sector of business in American, the one that drives this economy, cannot afford access to affordable insurance. Small business like me spend more on expensive insurance premiums, these resources can detract from innovation. Yes…writing the check each month to a insurance provider can seriously destroy the entrepreneurial experience because it is such a huge economic barrier of entry for care.

When I interview these individuals in free medical clinics, or those who have used Medicaid to have a child…I think that could be me. They look like me…they are fighting through this troubling economic time period plagued with the healthcare debate. The more time we spend debating, fighting each other in court…the more money is spent not solving the real problem, providing an affordable healthcare solution to those who can provide to care.

This debate is driving innovation right out the door. Small practices are having a hard time surviving during this debate wondering if they should join the big box hospitals to whether the storm. Small practices that want to be innovative yet cannot survive in this costly debate.

I will say it here…I may not agree with the complete healthcare package but I believe that this package has forced reform. This country needs reform in healthcare. There are too many americans without access to care and they are the same ones who are driving up costs. It is a cycle, lack of affordable coverage that leads to individuals treating the local emergency rooms as primary care physicians. Lack of coverage has led to less access to preventative care. Less affordable coverage is actually the main reason why our premiums are too damn expensive. Please, re-read that last sentence…it may not make sense, but think about it a bit.

Just a few weeks ago, Sarah and I found out we have been able to finally get pregnant. I run a small business and we are crunching numbers to make sure we have our finances in order to cover the cost of the next 7 months…then transitioning to coverage for three people. It is expensive for a small business and an entrepreneur. It is necessary. But, imagine those who cannot even consider to have this conversation. Imagine removing programs that provide care for those who are having children and cannot afford insurance. They are all around us. Young families just starting out and they look like you and I. They are not taking advantage of the system, but they want to have a healthy family. Will removing the access to care help the state and federal bottom-line, if that child is not born in a manner that is provided the best possible care…that child will end up in the ER/ED and drive up costs for unpaid services.

*The image above is from a two-day free medical clinic that provided thousands of people with free medical, dental, and vision care in 2010.