Marlee Lauffer is the president of Henry Mayo Newhall Hospital Foundation, and vice president, marketing and communications, for Henry Mayo Newhall Hospital.
Before her current role at the hospital, Lauffer was spokeswoman for Newhall Land and Farming, which was the Santa Clarita Valley’s largest developer for decades, before the company became FivePoint.
Q: What is one of the most significant changes you’ve seen in the field of public relations during your time in this field, and how have you adjusted?
A: The world around public relations is constantly changing, but the fundamentals of the profession stays the same. Proactive, consistent messaging and honest, transparent communication is at the root of a strong and credible public relations program.
The most significant change in society affecting public relations, from when I started in this career many years ago, is the advent of social media and the immediacy of information it allows — both accurate and inaccurate.
Social media has also greatly enhanced the opportunities for two-way communication, which is a very important part of public relations. For PR professionals like me trained before Facebook, Instagram and online minute-by-minute news, social media has taught us to be more nimble, even more transparent, and to address issues in real time. Change is exciting, ongoing and always a learning process.
Q: Could you please describe your role with Henry Mayo Newhall Hospital, and share what aspect of the job you enjoy the most?
A: At Henry Mayo, I serve as President of our Hospital Foundation, which is responsible for fundraising and community advocacy. We have an outstanding Board of Directors who volunteer their time to help us raise money for key programs and service lines and are our community ambassadors.
Currently, our focus is on a capital campaign to raise money for our new Patient Tower opening later this year. We have a great team of volunteers working on this effort and a strong professional staff supporting them.
I am also vice president of marketing and communications for the hospital, where I oversee our public, media, community relations, community benefits programs and volunteer services. I am always impressed with the creative marketing team we have here at the Henry Mayo, and I learn daily from them. I also appreciate the commitment we enjoy from our key leaders and volunteers. Henry Mayo is deeply embedded in the Santa Clarita Valley and the support we get from the community is gratifying.
Q: What does Henry Mayo Newhall Hospital see as its role or niche in the Santa Clarita Valley health care community, and how has that evolved over time?
A: As the only hospital in the Santa Clarita Valley and as a not-for-profit healthcare provider, our role is to provide top-notch medical services to all residents in our valley. Furthermore, we work to identify unmet healthcare needs and develop programs to help meet those needs.
In years past, we’ve become a Los Angeles County STEMI receiving center, thereby making critical heart attack services available to our residents. We are also a Level II trauma center and our Emergency Department carries an EDAP (Emergency Department Approved for Pediatrics) certification, ensuring we are trained and equipped to take care of our youngest patients.
Over time we have grown as the community has grown. This year, we will be opening our new patient tower, which will provide our patients with private rooms and a beautiful new Center for Women and Newborns.
One of our unique characteristics is that Henry Mayo, as compared to many other area hospitals, is independent and governed by a volunteer board of directors comprised of community leaders. This helps ensure that the needs of our community are the primary consideration when we are considering what programs to expand or services to offer.
Q: Health care experts have talked about the growing need for resources in the health care community for years as our population ages. How is the SCV positioned to take on the challenges that come with a changing demographic?
A: Yes, and of course this is an issue that’s not unique to the SCV — it’s national in scope.
Every player in health care is being affected now, as the need for resources to care for an aging population meets limits on what we as a nation can afford. We are fortunate to live in an area that’s relatively young demographically, as that helps balance the risk pool, which in turn helps all the health care providers in our valley.
For Henry Mayo, it always goes back to the same idea: We strive to meet the health care needs of our entire community, whatever those needs might be, while at the same time being careful stewards of our resources.