Rounding, March/April 2018

What strategies are your hospital using to encourage hospital staff to vote in this year’s midterm elections?

Parkland Health & Hospital System, Dallas

Parkland Health & Hospital System employees have a vested interest in the well-being of our community, but because Parkland is a governmental entity, they are prohibited from campaigning or promoting candidates at work or during work hours. However, it is important that employees exercise their right to vote because elections can affect health care policy, funding, operations or local, state and/or federal programs that serve our patients and employees.

For the primary elections, members of Parkland’s governmental relations department taped a video message for Parkland employees encouraging them to get out and vote. The message was broadcast on televisions located in staff areas throughout the hospital. In addition, our communications team promoted the upcoming elections through a screensaver, which is a rotating series of internal messages activated when a computer is left idle, and through our weekly newsletter, v. Message content included voting dates, where to find out more information on voter registration, voting locations and voting ID requirements.

Texas Health Resources, Arlington

The Texas primary elections on Tuesday, March 6 kicked off the nation’s midterm elections cycle. People often skip the primary elections, thinking the general election is the most important. But in Texas, the results of the primary elections usually establish who will be elected to represent most districts. When the primary election polls closed and the votes had been tallied, Democratic turnout eclipsed one million votes in a midterm election for the first time since 2002, and reached levels not seen in the state since 1994. Republicans also set a record for midterm election turnout, passing their previous high set in 2010.

At Texas Health Resources (Texas Health), we know the individuals we elect will make critical decisions that affect not only the health and wellbeing of our patients, but also how we deliver care at the bedside. For us, a successful workplace Get Out the Vote campaign requires considerable advance planning. During the March primaries, we were able to expand our voter education efforts to increase awareness and engagement among more than 24,000 Texas Health employees. We distributed 2,100 voter registration cards to our hospitals that were available to employees, physicians, patients and visitors in high-traffic locations. In addition, Texas Health’s CEO, Barclay Berdan, delivered a nonpartisan video message that encouraged employees to learn more about the election, candidates and issues at stake. Texas Health’s Government Affairs and Advocacy Department also distributed communications with information on the key election dates via email and social media posts. The voter registration cards, video and various email communications from our CEO, together with THA’s helpful GOTV resources, were critical in helping us enhance awareness and provided fun, engaging ways to encourage and empower employees to vote.

Texas Health’s efforts didn’t stop there. We also joined the North Texas Commission’s North Texas Advocacy Coalition—a group of large North Texas employers, including AT&T, American Airlines, BNSF Railway and Fidelity Investments—to support nonpartisan efforts to boost turnout for the March primary elections. Although the North Texas Advocacy Coalition did not endorse any candidates, we worked to promote voter education resources and information on when and where to vote to thousands of employees across North Texas. We believe our collaborative efforts increased voter education and turnout during the primary elections. Come November, we certainly hope to build on this success.