How a rural hospital launched a COVID-19 vaccine program in 1 week

Natchitoches (La.) Regional Medical Center recently launched a public COVID-19 vaccination program in less than one week in partnership with local city officials, public health experts and educational leaders. 

CEO Kirk Soileau said local community leaders' collaboration was key to the program's success.

"Where else can you send out a group text and have 15 leaders from throughout the community all on a call in 30 minutes?" Mr. Soileau said in a news release.

Once Natchitoches (La.) Regional Medical Center secured space to perform public vaccinations at a local events center, hospital staff said started calling the community's oldest residents and first responders to ensure they had first access to the vaccine.

Natchitoches Regional Medical Center, the state's largest rural hospital, said it vaccinated more than 1,200 people in three days without wasting any vaccine doses. The wait list for vaccinations has more than 1,000 names on it and continues to grow, in part because of the hospital's aggressive social media and public communications efforts. 

Demand for the vaccine continues to outpace the state's supplies, and federal vaccine shipments are expected to remain flat at about 58,000 doses weekly, according to The Advocate.

"If more vaccines were readily available, based on the size of the event center and the team of associates and volunteers in place today, we could vaccinate up to 1,000 per day," Sarah LaCour, MSN, vice president of quality, safety and reliability at Natchitoches Regional Medical Center said in a news release.

More articles on public health:
Assume UK variant is deadlier, Fauci says; social distancing, masks needed until late July, model predicts — 9 COVID-19 updates
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