In a recent conference call from Governor John Bel Edwards and the Secretary of the Louisiana Department of Health Dr. Courtney Phillips, to all Tier 1 hospitals in the state, hospital leaders were asked to “get creative” in finding ways to provide the COVID-19 vaccines to people in their regions using the priority tier system. Immediately following the call, Natchitoches Regional Medical Center’s leadership team gathered and set ambitious goals to accomplish the Governor’s request.
“We knew we needed the support of community leaders in order to implement a successful community- wide vaccination strategy and to do so quickly,” explained Kirk Soileau, CEO of Natchitoches Regional Medical Center. “From community-wide COVID-19 testing to communicating safety guidelines, community leaders all focused on one goal this year — keeping our community safe and healthy. As community leaders, we recently responded to a hurricane together, so when I sent out a group text to city and parish officials, the school board leaders, university, fire officials, law enforcement, and others, everyone responded. Within 30 minutes, we had 15 leaders on a call discussing the best ways to provide community vaccinations.”
Following that call, the Natchitoches Events Center cleared its calendar and provided space for use as a vaccination site. Social media and grassroots efforts were used to get the word out about the vaccination campaign. An NRMC team fielded hundreds of phone calls and voice messages from community members interested in being vaccinated. Based on the state’s tiered priority system, the NRMC team contacted the oldest residents on the waiting list first, after healthcare workers and first responders. Within three days, the NRMC Associates along with scores of volunteers vaccinated over 1,200 people exhausting the available vaccine supply, and they did so with zero vaccine wastage.
“The size of the Events Center, the facility itself, and available parking works well. Based on community leadership and the team of NRMC Associates and volunteers trained and ready to provide vaccinations, we can vaccinate up to 1,000 people per day if we have the vaccines available,” explained Sarah LaCour, Vice President of Quality at NRMC.
“We appreciate the Governor’s commitment and determination to get the vaccines to our state and to Tier 1 hospitals. We are hopeful that as more vaccine becomes available, we will be able to get many more community members vaccinated in the near future,” Soileau said.
An online registration system has been created for eligible community members who want to receive the vaccine. Please visit the following link to sign up for the COVID-19 Vaccination Waiting List: https://waitlist.nrmchospital.org. Appointments are scheduled when vaccines become available and based on the state mandated priority list, not by when someone registered to be added to the wait list. If you experience difficulty accessing the link via your mobile device, please use a desktop computer.