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

By Mackenzie Bean via Becker’s Hospital Review

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.

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14 thoughts on “How a rural hospital launched a COVID-19 vaccine program in 1 week

  1. It’s tiresome to read Senior Trumpers’ posts complaining to the NPJ that “the media” didn’t sufficiently tell them enough times and in enough places and in their preferred formats how to get their COVID shots. Perhaps they need to be made aware their computers will allow them to do more than just type all day about what a wonderful President Trump was.

    But far more serious than their complaining about how hard it was on them to get a shot they already have gotten is the fact that Trump’s lies about COVID led to the deaths of over 100,000 Americans–at a minimum according to health professionals.

    Some of those griping here about not getting the vaccine easily enough to suit them were doubtless cheering Trump on with every lie he told them about this deadly virus in February, March, April and even beyond: “COVID’s a hoax,” “it’ll soon disappear like magic,” “we can’t make the cure worse than the disease,” “let’s use hydroxychloroquine and bleach to cure it,” “it only kills old people anyway,” and on and on and on and on with lie after lie after deadly lie.

    Now you Senior Trumpers are happy to be at the front of the line to get the vaccine for the virus your cult leader called “fake news.” “Hypocrisy” seems an insufficient word for this self-serving, tone deaf behavior.

    Now of course you’ll be outraged that President Biden, exactly one week into his Presidency, hasn’t yet vaccinated everybody in America. And you’ll post about that. And you’ll talk about “Operation Warp Speed,” which wasn’t an actual policy but just another slogan brought to you by the ad men in Trump’s public relations department.

    As Mark Twain said, “It’s easier to fool people than to convince them they’ve been fooled by somebody else.”

    • First thing operation warp speed is real. Normal approval on a new vaccine is 10-15 years. Next hopefully it won’t take that long to develop one for TDS.

    • Believe me Rodney, it’s tiresome to read Senior Biden’ posts complaining about…well…everything too!

      I know, I know, you are WAY smarter than me. I get it.

  2. Kudos to the NRMC, ALL of their physicians and employees, who put their health and lives on the line every day. We surely appreciate having the best hospital in a rural area in the state of Louisiana. Keep up the great work!

    • Please share the link. I don’t recall seeing anything. I got my vaccine from the VA, but my wife had the same experience as JLP-RET. Seemed to be very poorly organized.

      • Mr. Ponthieux,
        NRMC has taken the lead for the greater Natchitoches community to support the national COVID-19 vaccination program. In fact, we are the only hospital in the state doing so through a community vaccination program. Last week we vaccinated over 1,200 citizens: Over 70, front line workers, healthcare providers, police, fire and school board in just 3 days.

        To date there are only 3 pharmacies in our community administering the vaccine, each receive approximately 100 doses every other week. We have over 38,000 residents in our parish. So NRMC jumped in to come up with a solution to get vaccines to our community.

        NRMC has not publicly announced a formalized vaccination program because we cannot get access to a consistent supply of vaccine. The majority of vaccines in the state go to Tier 1 facilities, of which, NRMC is one also. There are currently 400 facilities/sites getting vaccines in Louisiana today. Another 1,800 sites, physician offices, etc..,have registered to be an administration site. The Louisiana Department of Health will not distribute to this new group until there is availability from the manufacturers. The Tier 1 hospitals throughout the state are requesting 120,000 to 180,000 doses weekly from the LDH, with the state only receiving approximately 60,000 per week from the Federal Government.. NRMC requests 2000 to 3000 doses a week. We may get 975 one week or we may get 300 like we did yesterday for this week.

        Pulling together all of our governmental entities: the City, Parish, Law Enforcement, NSU, School Board and the office of emergency preparedness we set up a community vaccination program at the Events Center. NRMC and its volunteer force can accommodate 1,000 vaccinations per 8 hour work day in a very well organized fashion at the Event Center taking only about 21 mins per person which is outstanding. (100 to 125 citizens per hour). So our vaccination program is very well organized. The issue is availability of the vaccine from the Federal Government.

        NRMC currently has a vaccine “Wait List of over 1,000 and growing daily. It is our plan to launch a self-service registration process in the next week to 10 days, which we are developing ourselves on our website at so as the vaccines become available, our citizens will have ready access.

        Although someone adds their name to the list, we still must follow the vaccination tiers established by the CDC and the LDH. For example; if one person registered on January 2nd is is 64 years old, and a 75 year old registers today, the over 70yo person would have priority. For more information regarding the tiers, please refer to our website.

        In the meantime, please watch our social media posts, website and news media outlets for upcoming vaccination announcements,

        • The day we got the COVID vaccine at the events center, I was very impressed at how well it was organized. We walked in the door and registered, no line; then went to have our temperatures take, no line; then we filled our our form, plenty of areas available to sit and fill them out; then to back to get our shots, no line, deputy directed us to tables where shots were given; got the shot and went out to schedule next appointment, no wait; then we sat for about 15 minutes to make sure that we had no ill effects. We did not, so we went on our way. Everyone there was so nice and helpful, there was no confusion in any area, and we were in and out within the hour.

          The hospital did an amazing job at the Events Center, and I have to say congratulations. My complaint was with media not getting things out, maybe in a way that people had time to know that the shots were here. I looked back at the article on NPJ and it was good, but to me it looked more like an article, which is good, but the people need something like a large announcement telling us to call to make an appointment for shots. Some of us don’t get to read every day, so please do all of the readers a big wonderful service, and announce the shots enough days so that you can be sure that the information gets out to all. Love our town, thankful that we have a great hospital, admire the volunteers, and thank all involved in giving the shots.

        • Thank you for your informative post. Very happy that things are now moving along as well as can expected considering the number of vaccines that need to be administered. My wife is scheduled to receive her first today.

    • I don’t take the paper, too much money for not enough news. How many times did I used to look through it and only find things taken from national news. Put more local news, crime reports, arrests, accidents, and all the things locals want to read, and maybe more people would have seen the report. It probably would have been the one thing I read that day. You say it was in the paper and on the NPJ. How many times was it in the paper, it certainly should have been more than once or twice, as people do have lives, and even during a pandemic they might have missed the paper that day. It should have run front page for no less than 2 weeks if we want to get this mess cleared up. Now I love the NPJ, but did you guys run the information often enough. I miss very few days of the Journal, and I missed it here totally.

      We depend on newspapers, online information, radio stations, Facebook pages for the city, and the MAYOR and staff to let us know when a much needed vaccine is needed. I truly hope y’all do better next time, and unfortunately, looking at the world as it is today, we can be almost sure that there will be a next time.

  3. NRMC is the best ……….. at seemingly everything they do. This community and the area they serve are indeed blessed.

  4. Got our China virus shots last Friday, and it was just good luck that we found out about them being given at the Events Center. We just happened to find out about it from a friend that was volunteering at the Events Center. As far as I can tell, there were no public announcements about this. Why hasn’t the city or the hospital advertised this prior to this article? Earlier this month, I called both the Super1 pharmacy and NRMC about getting the vaccine and was told by both that Natchitoches was only given 100 doses each and they were already administered, and the list was over 500 people and they weren’t taking anymore names, and to call back in February. I’m glad that they have finally developed a local vaccination program, but I believe the city has fallen down on getting this information out to the public.

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