Homewood closing spurs Union Memorial ad pitch

March 01, 1991|By Cindy Harper-Evans

Call it concern for the community, but also call it a mighty attractive marketing opportunity.

Union Memorial Hospital is running a large ad in today's Sun and Evening Sun in the form of an open letter offering to help the staff, patients and community affected by the imminent closing of Homewood Hospital Center-South. Homewood, which had the largest loss of any hospital in the state in the last fiscal year, said earlier this week that it will shut down within three months, laying off more than 600 workers and leaving hundreds of patients without a hospital.

That could prove a gold mine for Union Memorial, only a few blocks from Homewood-South in Charles Village, as it confronts a personnel shortage in its technical support staff and a high rate of vacant beds.

"The real reason we're doing this is to be good corporate citizens," said Constance F. Row, Union Memorial's president and chief executive. "But from the marketing standpoint, we do need employees, and we do have excess" patient rooms.

Union Memorial needs 50 to 100 more support-staff members, especially nurses, radiological technicians and physical therapists, Ms. Row said.

"Our occupancy rate has been in the low 70s. The ideal occupancy rate for us is 85 percent," she said.

The ad, a smaller version of which will run in The Sun's classifieds Sunday, says Union Memorial will work to place Homewood's displaced staff members in jobs and also mentions Union's Ask-A-Nurse program, a free 24-hour health-service line.

The ad also makes a pitch to area residents to use "our full-service, newly renovated Emergency Department." Current Homewood patients are also invited to use Union Memorial after their hospital is closed.

Ms. Rowe said Homewood is a much smaller than Union Memorial but that the two offered similar patient services.

"We do need this support," Sandy Okwaye, a Homewood secretary facing unemployment, said of Union Memorial's marketing effort. "Most of the employees who work at Homewood have been here for years and years. They live in the neighborhood, and they walk to work. If some could relocate to Union Memorial, it would make them feel closer to home than if they had to find a job" elsewhere.

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