As the Manager of Internal Communications for Baystate Health, a non-profit, integrated healthcare system serving over 800,000 people throughout western New England, Castleton alumna Patricia Kenny Gagnon ‘88 is in charge of employee communication. It's her job to engage their 12,000 employees and strengthen their connection to Baystate Health’s mission of supporting the high-quality care they deliver to patients and families.
“We are the largest employer in western Massachusetts and have the region’s only level one trauma center and serve as the regional campus of the University of Massachusetts Medical School. Along with our academic medical center, Baystate Medical Center, we have a children’s hospital, three community hospitals, more than 80 medical practices, home care, and hospice services, and an insurance company, Health New England,” she said.
Coordination of information across the expanse of each of Baystate Health’s separate entities takes strong strategic planning and attention to detail. Gagnon and her team are tasked with developing and implementing coordinated communications campaigns and engagement strategies on a daily basis.
"We have several communications vehicles that we oversee, including weekly digital email publications for employees and managers, news areas on our intranet which are updated daily, several annual reports, video production, and comprehensive communications plans,” she explained. “I work within the Marketing & Communications department where we have specialists in marketing, public affairs, digital strategy, social media, loyalty programs, design, photography, and videography.”
The unprecedented challenge of delivering important clinical and human resource information updates every day and having them available in one place during the COVID-19 pandemic highlighted the value of her strong communications team.
“My role was creating the COVID-19 Update publication with our pandemic incident commander, emailed to employees daily at 11 a.m. We also set up a site on our intranet for all things COVID-19, where the information was easy to find and important in support for our vaccine rollout,” Gagnon said. “It was intense work at the peak of the first wave working long hours, seven days a week, but very rewarding knowing that we were supporting the amazing work of our frontline caregivers who were caring for the most critically ill patients in our region.”
While Gagnon describes her current work as rewarding and critical to success, she did not foresee her Communication degree from Castleton leading to a career in healthcare. She had always been drawn to writing and journalism and it was a full-time internship during her junior year with an NBC news affiliate that changed her mind.
“I thought I wanted to go into broadcast journalism,” she said. “The great thing about internships is they help you clarify where you find your joy in your work as you are just beginning. After the internship, I knew that area of communications was not for me.”
Throughout her career, Gagnon has always tried to find new ways to use her communication skills. In addition to her role at Baystate Health, she regularly takes on freelance writing projects for various magazines and newspapers, as well as professional voiceover opportunities. She connects her array of talents to her time and teachings on the Castleton campus.
"I toured several schools when I was looking at colleges and I can’t explain it but when I stepped foot on the Castleton campus for the first time for my tour there it felt like home,” she said. “I loved the community, the small class size, the great communications facilities, I just knew it was the place for me.”