As a 30-year crisis communications adviser to major brands, including hospitals, during high-profile crises, I can say that the behavior displayed recently by the leadership of Cambridge Health Alliance and Somerville Hospital was outrageous and is evidence of their failed understanding of how to address such a tragic and avoidable tragedy (“Investigation into death outside Somerville ER expected to be in place Friday, report in March,” Dec. 18).

I intend to use this tragedy as a case study in the crisis communications courses I teach at several colleges. I know my students will be as mortified as I was when I heard about this image and reputation crisis in the local and national news media. The poor handling of this crisis by hospital leaders is further proof that organizational leaders must be trained in effective crisis communications and management strategies to avoid or reduce the negative impact of a crisis on an organization’s brand.

Rick Pozniak
Crisis communications consultant and professor


Rick Pozniak is an instructor at Middlesex Community College in Bedford, Merrimack College in North Andover and at the Lowell Police Training Academy, along with having a crisis communications consultancy.