Office of Communications Receives AAMC Awards for Haiti Earthquake Coverage

The Office of Communications received two national Awards of Excellence last week from the Association of American Medical Colleges for its coverage of and public relations strategy for the Miller School’s unprecedented emergency medical response to the devastating earthquake in Haiti last year.

The awards were presented during an April 14 ceremony and reception at the AAMC’s Group on Institutional Advancement’s (GIA) National Professional Development Conference in Nashville.

The communications staff received the top GIA award in the Public Relations/Special Projects category for employing every available platform and resource, including the Miller School’s homepage, e-Update and MED newsletters and Medicine magazine, and a network of media outlets, to become a vital information clearinghouse for all facets of the University’s emergency response.

The staff also received the highest award in the Publications/Single or Special Issue category for the Healing Haiti special edition of Medicine. The special edition was designed to serve as a blueprint for large-scale, medical school responses to disaster, a keepsake to commemorate the legions of employees and other volunteers who saved countless lives, and a marketing tool for recruiting faculty and students and cultivating donors who support and enable the Miller School’s public and community service.

The judges, who consisted of communications leadership at other medical schools, called the “Earthquake in Haiti” public relations special project a “huge effort” that was “compelling and informative” and “demonstrated a commitment to ongoing excellence.’’

“Excellent coverage with significant results,’’ one judge said of the entry. “Very powerful to see the entire integrated communications together,’’ said another. “Lots of work done well.’’

Calling the Healing Haiti special edition of Medicine “truly spectacular,’’ one judge said the publication “raised the hair on my neck – what hair is left.’’

“I loved the multiple voices. I loved the news,’’ said another.

The GIA established the awards program to honor exceptional work and contributions made by the public affairs, alumni, development, public relations and marketing divisions at academic medical centers to advance medicine, research, and education.

Led by Christine Morris, associate vice president for communications, the communications staff includes Jeanne Antol Krull, executive director of medical communications; Dwayne Campbell, director of publications and editor of Medicine; Maya Bell, senior editor; Omar Montejo and Lisa Worley, directors of media relations; Jenny S. Prather, manager of communications; and, formerly, Catherine Echeverria, executive assistant.

As proud as Morris remains of her staff’s exhaustive post-earthquake efforts, she said the recognition actually belongs to Miller School faculty and staff, and the legions of other medical volunteers they inspired and enabled to serve in Haiti during its darkest hours.

“As we noted with our AAMC entries, we were honored to tell the world the Miller School treated 30,000-plus earthquake survivors, raised nearly $6 million, filled warehouses with donated supplies and equipment, signed up thousands of medical volunteers, earned worldwide media notice, and created a blueprint for disaster response while solidifying its commitment to bringing health care where it is needed,’’ Morris said.

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