I want to personally take this opportunity to wish all of our current and future clients a very happy Thanksgiving holiday, and thought it appropriate to look back at its history.
Thanksgiving at PlymouthIn September 1620, a small ship called the Mayflower left Plymouth, England, carrying 102 passengers—an assortment of religious separatists seeking a new home where they could freely practice their faith and other individuals lured by the promise of prosperity and land ownership in the New World. After a treacherous and uncomfortable crossing that lasted 66 days, they dropped anchor near the tip of Cape Cod, far north of their intended destination at the mouth of the Hudson River. One month later, the Mayflower crossed Massachusetts Bay, where the Pilgrims, as they are now commonly known, began the work of establishing a village at Plymouth.
Throughout that first brutal winter, most of the colonists remained on board the ship, where they suffered from exposure, scurvy and outbreaks of contagious disease. Only half of the Mayflower’s original passengers and crew lived to see their first New England spring. In March, the remaining settlers moved ashore, where they received an astonishing visit from an Abenaki Indian who greeted them in English. Several days later, he returned with another Native American, Squanto, a member of the Pawtuxet tribe who had been kidnapped by an English sea captain and sold into slavery before escaping to London and returning to his homeland on an exploratory expedition. Squanto taught the Pilgrims, weakened by malnutrition and illness, how to cultivate corn, extract sap from maple trees, catch fish in the rivers and avoid poisonous plants. He also helped the settlers forge an alliance with the Wampanoag, a local tribe, which would endure for more than 50 years and tragically remains one of the sole examples of harmony between European colonists and Native Americans.In November 1621, after the Pilgrims’ first corn harvest proved successful, Governor William Bradford organized a celebratory feast and invited a group of the fledgling colony’s Native American allies, including the Wampanoag chief Massasoit. Now remembered as American’s “first Thanksgiving”—although the Pilgrims themselves may not have used the term at the time—the festival lasted for three days. While no record exists of the historic banquet’s exact menu, the Pilgrim chronicler Edward Winslow wrote in his journal that Governor Bradford sent four men on a “fowling” mission in preparation for the event, and that the Wampanoag guests arrived bearing five deer. Historians have suggested that many of the dishes were likely prepared using traditional Native American spices and cooking methods. Because the Pilgrims had no oven and the Mayflower’s sugar supply had dwindled by the fall of 1621, the meal did not feature pies, cakes or other desserts, which have become a hallmark of contemporary celebrations.Thanksgiving Becomes an Official HolidayPilgrims held their second Thanksgiving celebration in 1623 to mark the end of a long drought that had threatened the year’s harvest and prompted Governor Bradford to call for a religious fast. Days of fasting and thanksgiving on an annual or occasional basis became common practice in other New England settlements as well. During the American Revolution, the Continental Congress designated one or more days of thanksgiving a year, and in 1789 George Washington issued the first Thanksgiving proclamation by the national government of the United States; in it, he called upon Americans to express their gratitude for the happy conclusion to the country’s war of independence and the successful ratification of the U.S. Constitution. His successors John Adams and James Madison also designated days of thanks during their presidencies.
In 1817, New York became the first of several states to officially adopt an annual Thanksgiving holiday; each celebrated it on a different day, however, and the American South remained largely unfamiliar with the tradition. In 1827, the noted magazine editor and prolific writer Sarah Josepha Hale—author, among countless other things, of the nursery rhyme “Mary Had a Little Lamb”—launched a campaign to establish Thanksgiving as a national holiday. For 36 years, she published numerous editorials and sent scores of letters to governors, senators, presidents and other politicians. Abraham Lincoln finally heeded her request in 1863, at the height of the Civil War, in a proclamation entreating all Americans to ask God to “commend to his tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife” and to “heal the wounds of the nation.” He scheduled Thanksgiving for the final Thursday in November, and it was celebrated on that day every year until 1939, when Franklin D. Roosevelt moved the holiday up a week in an attempt to spur retail sales during the Great Depression. Roosevelt’s plan, known derisively as “Franksgiving,” was met with passionate opposition, and in 1941 the president reluctantly signed a bill making Thanksgiving the fourth Thursday in November.
United Health Foundation understands the value of America’s 62 million family caregivers of adults 18 years or older and the critical role they play in our health care system.According to a recent national family caregiving study, 17 percent of caregivers of adults provide care for a veteran and 11 percent have served in the armed forces themselves. While there are many studies that have probed the needs of the veterans, the United Health Foundation in collaboration with the National Alliance for Caregiving has taken the first in-depth look at the family caregivers of our nation’s veterans. The study, Caregivers of Veterans – Serving on the Homefront gives voice to caregivers who are caring for veterans across the age spectrum -- from combat eras dating from World War II to the more recent wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. While these caregivers face similar situations as national caregivers, including caring for someone with chronic illness or aging issues, they also have unique challenges such as dealing with physical disabilities and emotional and mental health issues. The study reveals how providing care affects caregivers’ lives, what organizations and information sources have been helpful to them, and what programs and services would support and assist them.Key Findings from the study include:
Note: *National caregiver statistical comparisons are from “Caregiving in the U.S.” (2009, NAC in collaboration with AARP) and they reflect the subset of caregivers who provide care to an adult age 18 or older.
- Overwhelmingly, veterans’ caregivers are women (96 percent) - compared to national caregiving statistics overall which show 65 percent are women
- Twice as many veterans’ caregivers (30 percent) said they have been caregiving for 10 or more years – compared to the national caregiving statistic where only 15 percent stated the same
- Three times as many caregivers of veterans reported spending 40 hours a week or more providing care (43 percent) compared to the total number of caregivers nationally (13 percent)
- Sixty-eight percent of veterans’ caregivers reported their situation as highly stressful compared to 31 percent of caregivers nationally who feel the same
- 70 percent of caregivers reported that their veteran experiences depression or anxiety, and 60 percent report post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), compared to only 28 percent of caregivers nationally whose care recipients suffer from mental or emotional health problems.
- Of the 68 percent who were employed, almost half (47 percent) reported leaving work entirely or taking early retirement compared to national caregiver statistics who reported the same (9 percent)
- As seen in other caregiving studies, caregivers feel their role is a labor of love; 94 percent of the veterans’ caregivers reported they are “proud to serve”
Even if you have partnered with BAC Medical Marketing, there may be times when you have to write a letter or a promotional piece without professional assistance. To help you get through that process, here are five things you can do to make your own communication more effective and more likely to be accepted by your target audience:
1. “YOU” is always better than “ME” – Instead of placing too much emphasis on your practice or yourself (ME, ME, ME), focus your message on your patient or referrer (YOU, YOU, YOU). Instead of starting your message with a phrase such as, “Here at XYZ Family Healthcare, we…,” focus on the recipient of your message with a phrase such as, “When you need faster pain relief, you’ll find it at….” Readers need to know that you care more about them than yourself.
2. What’s in it for the reader? – The American consumer only cares about “What’s in it for me?” Your words, therefore, should include all the benefits to the reader. Benefits such as fewer appointments, less waiting, faster pain relief, friendlier service, greater convenience and more compassion are more important than features.
3. Clinical language vs. plain language – Clinicians tend to write most healthcare materials (including instructions to patients!) at a 12th grade level. Unfortunately, most American consumers read at a 5th or 6th-grade level. Avoid medical terminology and clinical language in favor of plain English to ensure that your message is received and understood. Medical terminology, jargon and statistics may be perfectly suitable – and desirable – when communicating with other health professionals. But, when communicating with patients, plain conversational language always works best.
4. Write for your target audience (Hint: That’s not you!) – Think about the patients you want in your practice. How old are they? Are they primarily white-collar professionals or blue-collar laborers? What do they want and need from your practice? Are they well-educated or not so much? It might help to jot down a list of their characteristics before crafting your marketing message. (Also, see #3 above.)
5. Always include a call to action – Perhaps the most common mistake in marketing writing, this is one area where you can be prescriptive. Tell your potential new patient what to do next. Visit your web site. Call for a complimentary consultation. Ask about your free offer.