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Coalition Receives New Mexico Public Relations Society Chapter Award for Radio Campaign

“Is it an Urgency or Emergency?” Community Awareness Campaign Earns Gold Cumbre from Local Public Relations Chapter

The New Mexico Coalition for Healthcare Quality was recently awarded a Gold Cumbre Award from the New Mexico Chapter of the Public Relations Society of America (NMPRSA) for its “Is it an Urgency or Emergency?” community awareness campaign. The NMPRSA Cumbre Public Relations Campaign Awards are given for outstanding achievement in a comprehensive public relations campaign. Entries are evaluated on the basis of multiple communication tools, programs, or components and planning and evaluation activities. Guidelines are similar to those for PRSA’s prestigious Silver Anvil Awards.

“We are very excited and honored with this award,” said Pat Montoya, the coalition’s director. “Not only was the campaign very well received by the community, our local hospital systems were supportive of the consistent, communitywide message that would help the community receive the right care at the right time in the right setting. The campaign is a good example of how a short, to-the-point message can get the public’s attention.

The “Is it an Urgency or Emergency?” campaign aimed to increase community awareness about when to go to urgent care and when to go to the emergency room. The campaign, which ran from September 2011 to February 2012, consisted of radio advertisements, print advertisements and posters that were distributed throughout the city. The campaign materials were designed by Esparza Advertising and the overall campaign was funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

The New Mexico Coalition for Healthcare Quality received information from many of the local hospitals to determine the number of non-emergency visits seen in their emergency departments over a six-month period. Based on the information the coalition received at the end of the campaign’s six month promotion, emergency visits continued to rise but non-emergency visits decreased an average of 13 percent compared to the same six month period in previous years.

“Many hospitals and emergency departments had already set up activities within their systems that could have affected this change, including patient navigators helping direct non-emergency patients to a more appropriate setting – such as primary care or urgent care, changed pain management policies within their emergency departments, and opened new urgent care facilities,” Montoya said. “While we are pleased with the results, we know that the campaign was only one factor among many other activities that could have influenced results.”

The campaign has been featured at a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation national conference and a national webinar focusing on emergency department use. The campaign has gained attention from communities across the country looking for innovative ways to change emergency department usage rates.

For more information about the New Mexico Coalition for Healthcare Quality and its work, visit For more information on the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s Aligning Forces for Quality initiative, visit