Encumbered to Empowered


Stagnated by financial and operational headwinds, a rural health system hoped to secure a strategic partnership that would enable it to continue its 100+ year history serving the region. Previous collaborations with outside health systems ended negatively, so leaders needed to shift the public narrative around a potential merger, internally and externally—all in the midst of critical operational challenges.


Jarrard was initially engaged to support the system in its efforts to strategically communicate an upcoming partnership exploration process. Because the system lacked proprietary communication resources, we became embedded into its senior leadership team and worked closely with system leaders well before the exploration announcement. Cognizant that many in the community, including board members, would be hesitant to undergo a an acquisition, we helped develop and deliver messaging and tactics that communicated its necessity and the many ways it would benefit local healthcare. 

We conducted listening sessions with both staff and community members to understand what they thought was most important for a partnership to accomplish. We then held communications workshops to help leaders inform and connect with their team members to ensure continued and effective engagement. 

Throughout the partnership exploration and up until the agreement was finalized, the system experienced intense public scrutiny over provider shortages and underwent several challenging operational changes, adding another level of complexity to its strategic communications needs. We crafted and tailored messaging for internal and external audiences, ensuring alignment throughout these changes while building and maintaining a pro-merger narrative on all sides.


The health system ultimately found a strategic partner and announced a deal agreement within a year of launching its exploration. It was able to gain widespread support for its prospective merger throughout every phase of the process—while also successfully navigating operational challenges and mitigating the reputational risk that comes with service transitions. Now, building up to full integration, the organization is better positioned for its future and can continue providing local healthcare to its community for years to come. 


Navigating a successful partnership search requires:

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Cadenced and tailored communication strategies

Right message, right audience, right time

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Equipping leadership with personalized tools 

Teach them to fish

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Building new channels for communication 

Open a dialogue


The Long, Winding Road to Deal Close 

  • Navigating politics within the community and system governance 
  • Executing internal and external communication campaigns without traditional infrastructure 
  • Strategic communications for facility consolidation and service line closure
  • Community and patient outreach during an acute provider shortage 


month timespan from exploration announcement to finalized agreement 


capital commitment from strategic partner


year relationship with the region retained

Are you considering, planning for or in the midst of a partnership search?

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