It was on TV and in movie theaters playing during the Summer Olympics eight years ago. The piece was called Early to Arrive and it was about Overlake Medical Center’s amazing newborn intensive care unit for babies born too early. That was the first piece I ever made for Overlake. Now 8 years later, having helped them raise over $10 million through storytelling, I must say, they have become an organization that I hold in the highest regard and close to my heart.
For better or worse, I can only work on things that I care about. While I have been focused on conservation storytelling from Haiti to Alaska and humanitarian work from Africa to America, storytelling for a hospital wasn’t what I immediately thought of as my biggest cause. However, as I learned about every aspect of Overlake Medical Center of the last nearly decade, I have come to deeply respect, admire, and take very seriously our commitment and contribution to the great people who run this world-class community hospital. Each year we come up with new and creative ways to engage their community through storytelling at their annual Bandage Ball. It has been a true labor of love.
Fast forward to this year…
Emergencies are something Overlake Hospital does well. We know, we’ve filmed dozens of stories about incredible nurses, doctors, and technicians who have saved countless lives. Their commitment to care is what makes our job so inspiring – it’s difficult to find a patient who doesn’t want to talk about the incredible care they received at Overlake.
When COVID-19 hit the Eastside of Seattle, however, the emergency became all-consuming, but Overlake was prepared. Amidst these dire circumstances, Overlake made the call to cancel the Bandage Ball. This was an easy decision for Overlake, it was in the interest of the community, but we found ourselves with a ton of film for an event that wasn’t going to happen.
Witnessing first-hand the response of a world-class hospital to a historic public health crisis, we quickly switched gears to tell the story of their response. We saw the amazing speed at which they assembled their teams and organized. We witnessed how much those teams cared about keeping their community safe. And, during a time when so many hospitals face criticism for leaving their staff exposed on the front lines, we witnessed Overlake’s deep commitment to protecting their entire team.
We weren’t surprised. It’s in Overlake’s DNA. A world-class medical center with the heart of a community hospital.
It became clear to us that our methods had to change with the story. The style and length of storytelling that people will watch on a series of giant screens in a room full of their peers with a glass of wine in their hand is very different from what they will watch on their laptop or phone amidst a crisis. We took the material we had shot and immediately began making a short piece that could update the community on Overlake’s response to COVID-19.
Featuring Dr. Tom Miller, the piece has already had reached thousands of our community members, helping provide some assurance that their local hospital is fighting to keep them safe.
With the success of one short piece, we dug into our footage, our design team’s creativity, and stock footage to follow this method and tell shorter stories that could help the hospital raise money through online or distance giving campaigns in this time of need. But as the situation has developed and the COVID-19 outbreak has continued to spread across the nation, again, Overlake prioritized the needs of the community over their need for financial support. It’s in Overlake’s DNA.
Every day of this crisis is a learning experience, and every day the landscape changes dramatically. People want to support the hospital in this critical time, and hospitals need support, but when fighting on the front lines it’s difficult to make an ask. Good storytelling helps transport people inside the hospital to see first-hand the amazing healthcare workers serve those in need. The stories give people a much better understanding of why the need is so great.
People throughout our communities are rising to meet the need, but folks as far away as Europe and Asia are also giving. We are working with Overlake on an almost daily basis to help them tell their story, update the community, and plan for how to fundraise in these challenging times. We hope that you will consider lending Overlake Medical Center your support. Our healthcare community needs us now more than ever.
Sometimes in life, you pull back the curtain on organizations claiming to do great work only to find a thinly veiled façade. All of us need work, no one is perfect but there is a great difference between those trying to be their best and those who are not. For nearly a decade, Overlake Medical Center has shown us and everyone who has looked closely at the nurses, doctors, technicians, volunteers, security guards, chefs, and administrative staff that they are committed to serving the health and wellness of our community during the good times and the hard times. Now it’s time to support them as they fight to save so many lives in our community. Thank you, Overlake.
Senior Creative Director + Principal