News, Updates, and Happenings at Our Firm

The news of data from two COVID-19 vaccines demonstrating over 90 percent efficacy certainly feels like the light at the end of the tunnel. The challenge is the three or four months of tunnel before widespread vaccine availability, which is going to be perilous. We are all fatigued by the pandemic -- tired of wearing masks, of missing time with friends and family, and of staying away from the things we love best for fear of catching the virus. 

I try to stay focused on the positive things that will emerge from these dark days. We see these new developments in the work we do for our clients, such as: the transformation of our behavioral health system from in-person care to one that is largely virtual, through telehealth, with the promise of permanently bringing down barriers to care; the amazing response to the crisis from philanthropic foundations, whose grantmaking is enabling nonprofit organizations to reimagine how they deliver services; and a new focus on boosting the morale of seniors, who are too often prone to isolation and its negative effects.

While much of our work has focused on crisis communications and management since last March, we've also had the privilege to witness and communicate so many inspirational and forward-looking developments. In this newsletter, we'd like to share some of them.

Best wishes for a happy -- if less grand -- Thanksgiving.


David Ball
President & Founder
The future of the Affordable Care Act and the millions of Americans who depend on it for their health is in limbo as the Supreme Court deliberates on California v. Texas, a case that seeks to overturn the law on the assertion that, because a key provision of the law -- tax penalties to individuals for not having coverage -- has been eliminated, the ACA is no longer constitutional.

The Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts Foundation and its research partner Urban Institute studied the impact of the ACA being overturned in Massachusetts, and found that up to 422,000 state residents would lose coverage and the fiscal impact to the state would be $3.3 billion. In short, repeal of the law would be devastating and would reverse health care coverage gains in the state that have accrued since Massachusetts' own health reform was enacted in 2006, which became a model for the ACA. The elimination of the ACA would, in the words of Foundation President Audrey Shelto, "undermine over a decade's worth of progress."

The report was released on November 9, just before the Court's opening arguments. Major media coverage is linked below. 

RIZE Massachusetts, the nonprofit dedicated to ending the opioid epidemic, has been busy on a number of fronts, including publishing a special report recapping its first 1,000 days. The COVID-19 crisis has created new challenges for people fighting addiction and for those providing treatment and recovery support. "The opioid crisis was in the news on a very regular basis for the last several years," RIZE Executive Director Julie Burns told the Patriot Ledger. "People in recovery or in the field or who have a family member who is struggling are still paying attention, but for others, it has just fallen away." Burns also sounded the alarm in an op-ed piece published by

Community Servings CEO David Waters wrote a letter to the editor of The Boston Globe to rally support for the restaurant industry during the COVID-19 pandemic. Boston's restaurant community has been a stalwart partner to the community-based organization that provides medically tailored meals for those with chronic and critical illnesses.

If there is a silver lining in the pandemic, it is innovation and advancement in health care. UTM:Healthcare, the mobile health technology company operated by YouThisMe, created a free smartphone app to help consumers track key medical indicators of serious respiratory infections, such as COVID-19.
The widespread adoption of telehealth to deliver behavioral health care during the pandemic has led many to call for new policies and programs to make these tools available even after the crisis subsides. Volunteers of America of Massachusetts made the case in a commentary piece posted by GBH News.

The Boston Globe featured the recently completed XLVII West Elm project in Brockton by the creative developer Geoffrey Anatole. The 44-unit luxury apartment building is among several projects and businesses leading a renaissance of that city's long-struggling downtown. Many of the new tenants were priced out of Boston's rental market.
Pointe Group Care, which operates seven skilled nursing facilities in Eastern Massachusetts, was quoted in an in-depth story by ProPublica about efforts by staff to ensure that nursing home residents could vote in the national election.
Lifeworks, the nonprofit agency recently formed by the merger of Lifeworks and The Arc of South Norfolk, created a residential program with a lot of heart in Westwood. The newly built, five-bedroom house was developed through an innovative, collaborative partnership between Lifeworks, the town of Westwood, the state Department of Developmental Services, MassHealth, and The Green Company, a real estate firm that donated land for the project. The home is staffed 24/7 by a team of nurses and other trained staff who care for the residents who have significant medical challenges. The families of these individuals were amazed and grateful for the opportunity that the project created.
Staff and residents at Sherrill House, the nonprofit nursing home in Boston, have been able to keep the faith through the COVID-19 crisis thanks to a special member of the team: the chaplain. The Rev. Lindsay Popperson conveyed her compelling role ministering to the aging and infirm to a reporter at MassLive.
Goddard House, an assisted living and memory support community in Brookline, has gone to great lengths to be transparent and forthcoming in its updates to family members during the pandemic. The dedicated team has also been focused on boosting morale, as chronicled by the Brookline TAB.
Ball Consulting Group, LLC has received a Lamplighter Award from NESHCo, the New England Society for Healthcare Communications. With 285 submissions vying for more than 60 major awards, the 30th Annual Lamplighter Awards recognizes the best of the best in health care communications across the region. NESHCo judges honored our firm in the Excellence in Writing category for an op-ed with Sherrill House, "Nailing a rung into the nursing home career ladder," published in June 2019 in CommonWealth Magazine.

Although the COVID-19 pandemic has put a severe crimp in getting out and about, we have taken advantage of virtual meetings and the printed word to help organizations plan for and think about how they would respond to a crisis. This outreach included:

  • Presenting a workshop, titled “Managing the News Media in a Time of Global Health Crisis, during The Providers’ Council’s 43rd Annual Convention & Expo, a virtual experience for members from the human services sector across Massachusetts.

  • Penning a piece for the annual health care issue of O’Dwyer’s Magazine, the top publication for public relations and marketing communications professionals. O’Dwyer’s published a profile of Ball Consulting Group along with a guest column by President David Ball about COVID-19 in nursing homes and the crisis PR challenge presented by the pandemic.

  • Enumerating six communication lessons learned from the nursing home response to COVID-19 in a piece for the trade publication McKnight’s Long-Term Care News, and also contributing comments to an article published in the Agent Advice blog about how real estate agents can benefit from investing in public relations.
PR Boutiques International, an association of independently owned PR firms across the globe to which Ball Consulting Group belongs, launched a web series, "Meet the PR Experts," featuring members talking about their experiences and expertise.
From Banglore, India, host Tarunjeet Rattan connected with David Ball for a compelling conversation about crisis management in health care PR. Please click here for the archived YouTube video.