Sure sign of the trivial value of PR and image management in some organizations

In the nation’s capital area, an area with superb medical facilities, there is hot competition. We have some of the nation’s top medical centers – Georgetown, George Washington Hospital, Inova, and Sibley, a part of Johns Hopkins, just to name a few. And, they invest heavily in topnotch professional communications and marketing.

Johns Hopkins, for example, has an outstanding communications team. Seasoned veterans with deep expertise, and a commitment to bring along younger team members.  It’s no different than other world-class hospital organizations.

When former Vice President Dick Cheney needed a heart transplant, he went to Inova Fairfax Hospital in northern Virginia. Cheney could have selected any hospital in the world but he preferred Inova Fairfax. It was terrific validation for Inova’s image and reputation.

VaHosCenterStanding sort of in the shadows of these great hospitals is Virginia Hospital Center. Ask many people in northern Virginia where the Virginia Hospital Center is located, and they may look puzzled or pause and say something like, “Oh, isn’t that Arlington Hospital?” Yes … it is.

Known for generations as Arlington Hospital, the facility was “rebranded” with a new name during a time when hospitals became big profit money machines. Did it reflect the distinctive nature of the community? No … heck no. In fact, a name like Virginia Hospital Center might be more appropriate for a hospital in Richmond, 110 miles away.

Anyway, not to be undone from its reputation as a “what’s its name?” organization, the hospital recently announced it was looking for a new Director of Corporate Communications. All I know of the previous person is that she did not respond to emails. But, here’s the catch — as the new job announcement appeared yesterday on a major DC-area job openings list serve, the hospital’s recruitment department told me today they are in the “final stages” of selection. How transparent is that?

Heading up communications at a hospital is a demanding job, working together with many departments and groups. While there are many bright young people in PR, the top person needs to be a seasoned pro in order to guide the hospital out of the competitive shadows. But, that does not appear to be the case with Virginia Medical Center. What’s more, there could be the perception that the job is already “wired” for a preferred candidate, at least in my opinion after reading the job announcement. The job announcement could have just been perfunctory.

VA Hospital Center

While the hospital’s recruitment department tells me today they are on the “final stages” of hiring someone, the job announcement appeared yesterday, and written in boilerplate recruitment department gobbledegook, I pity the poor soul who gets hired. Note that a candidate needs a B.A degree and five or more years of experience. Right or wrong, it suggests they want a junior level person:


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  1. I do not know if it was an inside hire with a pro-forma announcement, publicly placed, although the timeline would appear to show a last minute CYA, but it is obvious that they will get what they pay for, if those are the qualifications – a BA and 5 years experience. To bad really in such competitive climate and with the new health care coming on line.

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