How do you elevate the issue of premature births?

MedImmune, the worldwide biotechnology research and development arm of AstraZeneca, wanted to raise awareness of premature infant health issues and advocate for policy improvements. They appointed Grisko as the lead healthcare PR firm to help them build, launch and manage a statewide network, The Illinois Premature Infant Health Network (IPIHN).

More than one-third of infant deaths in the United States are from complications related to preterm births. In Illinois, preterm births are 10 percent above the U.S. average and have been steadily rising over the past several years.

The purpose of IPIHN was to build a coalition among the Illinois healthcare community to focus on the importance and need for improved preterm care.

Identify the gaps in preterm care.

Grisko worked with the Illinois Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics (ICAAP) to conduct a survey evaluating neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) follow-up programs across the state. The survey succeeded in capturing, for the first time, a comprehensive picture of current NICU services available for premature babies in Illinois and recommendations for improvement.3

We built a network from the ground up, creating a logo, mission statement and committee structure. As the primary point of contact for IPIHN, we helped identify and recruit more than 20 major institutions, including the Illinois Maternal and Child Health Coalition, ICAAP, March of Dimes, major area hospitals, doctors, community groups and public health advocates. These groups came together with a unified voice to help reduce the risk factors for premature births and educate families on how to care for babies born prematurely. The IPIHN and MedImmune hosted the first-ever Prematurity Summit in Illinois, which garnered front-page coverage in the Chicago Tribune.

Building the parts into a greater whole.

Through our strategic communications plan, we achieved two significant goals with IPIHN: MedImmune strengthened its overall position in Illinois and the IPIHN network became a fully independent, member-driven entity that continues to make strides to improve healthcare services and support for premature babies and their families.