While Annie Rizzo is just beginning an exciting new role at her job at Indiana Regional Medical Center, the seeds of her career were sown there in the spring of 2014, when she participated in an internship in the marketing department.
“It was a transition to what brought me back to the hospital,” said Rizzo, who moved into her new role as director of marketing and community relations earlier this month.
Rizzo, a Heilwood native, worked in IRMC’s marketing department for five years and previously as marketing director for the Indiana County Chamber of Commerce.
She was brought back to Indiana by her family and friends from Orlando, Florida after attending the Disney College program after graduating from Indiana University in Pennsylvania.
“I love Indiana, the small town vibe,” she said. “I hated being away from my family and friends. I really believe that everything is closed. It was destiny to return and serve the community at the hospital who cared for his family and friends. It has been gratifying.
Rizzo said she “went to college without really having any game plans.”
“I didn’t know what I wanted to do,” she says. “I went there and I didn’t have a major.”
Then she fell in love with marketing.
“There are endless possibilities of what you can do in this area,” she said. “I feel lucky to have been able to find something that I’m really passionate about.”
In college, she participated in internships at IRMC, Disney and IUP.
At IRMC she focused on social media and internal communications and at IUP she worked in the public relations department.
At Disney, she gained what she described as “real-world experience and exposure to a company that has the scale of Disney.”
“Everyone knows Disney,” Rizzo said. “Customer service is what they pride themselves on. At Disney, that’s when I became passionate about the customer service experience.
She brought this philosophy back to IRMC. While inpatients aren’t exactly on vacation, they are guests.
“It really translated for me to bring this back to Indiana and do the same for patients in the community, just in a different situation,” she said.
During his years at IRMC, Rizzo designed marketing and public relations campaigns and worked on brand management and provided health opportunities “to patients, potential patients and the community in his whole”.
“Marketing is such a broad field,” she said. “You can be creative and publicize services that people might not otherwise know about.”
Rizzo’s service to the community goes beyond his career at IRMC and extends to volunteerism.
Last year, she was co-chair of the Indiana County United Way’s 90th Anniversary Fundraising Campaign which ended in February and raised $661,030.90.
She is also involved with the Indiana County Chamber of Commerce Young Professionals, IRMC Auxiliary, Heilwood Sportsmans Club and has contributed to local political campaigns.
The United Way campaign, she said, “proves how important volunteering is” and showed her “another reason why I love Indiana County.”
“People are supportive, generous and willing to give back and lend a hand when they can,” she said.
The campaign was like her own full-time job, and now that she and co-chair Amanda Augustine have passed the torch, a weight has been lifted. But in its absence, there is also a void.
“I can’t wait to get involved, to continue this volunteerism,” Rizzo said.
Rizzo thanks IRMC for giving him time and flexibility during the Centraide campaign.
“IRMC really cares about the community,” she said.
Organization was also crucial for Rizzo to find time for all of his endeavors, as well as maintaining “a good work/life balance.”
Finding time to decompress is very important, she says.
She enjoys cycling indoors and outdoors, reading and walking, and also enjoys traveling, especially to Disney.
In her new position at IRMC, Rizzo will be responsible for marketing plans for service lines and physicians and is involved in patient engagement, strategies to drive online traffic, community event planning and finding ways to ensure IRMC remains competitive.
She looks forward to a return to normal, as the COVID-19 pandemic has presented special challenges and an “ever-changing environment” for the health care field.
“The pandemic has changed the way we market any type of service,” Rizzo said. “That’s probably the challenge more than anything – finding new ways to reach our audience.”
It required creativity, versatility and adaptability, she said.
Now, she says, it’s time to focus on getting people back to IRMC after many missed appointments.
“I look forward to getting back into the community and meeting potential patients and current patients to provide them with the care they need and preventative care,” she said. “So many people are putting it off during the pandemic.”
Educating the community about health is an important aspect of his work.
“They don’t put their health first,” she says. “I think it’s important to get that message out to the community, to let them know what’s out there and help them navigate it.”
At IRMC, Rizzo said patients can receive “big city hospital services right here.”
Through his career and volunteering, what Rizzo enjoys most is meeting people.
“Everyone you come into contact with throughout your life… wherever it is, they can alternatively have some kind of impact on your future. I’ve met so many people… You never know when you’ll run into that person again.
She encourages others to “stay focused and not give up.”
“Once you make up your mind about it, it can always be done,” Rizzo said. “Keep this dream alive.”