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Two media fellowship events last month sponsored by Blue Cross/Blue Shield and Harvard Medical School (HMS) provided local and national journalists with an in-depth look at McLean’s programs and services and the opportunity to meet with leadership, researchers, and clinicians.
Adriana Bobinchock, director of Public Affairs and Communications, explained the fellowships are beneficial for both the news organizations and McLean. “Reporters typically do not have such a level of openness and a behind the scenes look at so many of our programs and services,” she said. “For McLean, it’s an opportunity to showcase our high level of expertise and cutting-edge technology and research. The hope is that when there’s a major story in the news about mental illness, McLean will be the first source they think of to get quotes and information.”
“We also participate in these fellowships because we think it’s important to educate reporters about mental health—not only what we do here at McLean but also at the national level and what’s happening in the industry and in policy,” she said.
The Blue Cross/Blue Shield Media Fellowship, now in its seventh year partnering with McLean, sponsored 12 reporters representing such news organizations as the Washington Post, The Los Angeles Times, CNBC, Politico, The Boston Globe, and the Associated Press. They toured the Obsessive Compulsive Disorder Institute, the McLean Imaging Center, the Harvard Brain Tissue Resource Center, Waverley Place, and the Psychiatric Neurotherapeutics Program.
Joseph Gold, MD, chief medical officer, and Kerry J. Ressler, MD, PhD, chief scientific officer, who were hosts for the day, spent time answering questions and briefing the reporters after they visited the different units.
The HMS Media Fellowship event, which is typically held at Harvard, took place at McLean this year as the focus was on mental health. “Since we are the largest psychiatric facility associated with Harvard, we offered to host the reporters for the day,” said Bobinchock, noting that the theme for the fellowship was “Piercing the Darkness: Advances in Mental Health.”
The reporters were from Science Magazine, New Scientist, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, WBUR, and STAT. They met with Scott L. Rauch, MD, president and psychiatrist in chief, Ressler, Sabina Berretta, MD, scientific director of the Harvard Brain Tissue Resource Center; Staci Gruber, PhD, director of the Cognitive and Clinical Neuroimaging Core; Brent P. Forrester, MD, MSc, chief of the Division of Geriatric Psychiatry; Michael R. Hollander, PhD, director of training and senior consultant for 3East; Hilary S. Connery, MD, PhD, clinical director of the Substance Use Disorders Division; and Marisa M. Silveri, PhD, director of the Neurodevelopmental Laboratory on Addictions and Mental Health.
“The media fellowships have always been a really positive experience from our perspective. When the reporters are here, they know everything is off the record and it’s a great educational experience for them,” said Bobinchock. “What frequently happens after their McLean visit is that they come back to us to place stories. Right now we’re working with one newspaper that is featuring the Brain Bank.”
“As part of our overall strategy for enhancing the hospital brand on a national level,” she said, “we’ve been starting to make a concerted effort to increase our media placements. Participating in these fellowships is part of that plan, and our goal is to get to a point where we start our own fellowship and we’re hoping to do that in 2017.”