Just Give it a ‘Shot!’ - Karen Wyble’s Efforts Toward Creating a Vaccinated America
In the current phase of the pandemic we are living in, the world has been split into two. The coronavirus vaccine “haves” and “have-nots” — creating a gap that may define the next phase of the pandemic. The “have-nots” are various kinds — on one side there are people who don’t want to be vaccinated. The other are people who may not have access. Luckily, health champions like Karen Wyble, Vice President of Rural Health and Workforce Development at Ochsner Lafayette General, have made it their mission to help people get vaccinated.
A purpose driven innovator, Karen Wyble is passionate about equality and access in healthcare. She works toward developing healthcare policies that improve outcomes, especially in such unprecedented times caused by COVID-19.
Karen Wyble and Ochsner Lafayette General were honored by GHX (Global Healthcare Exchange) during their 2020–2021 virtual GHX Summit LIVE event. The award was in recognition of the providers, suppliers and individuals that went above and beyond to support patients and communities during the COVID-19 pandemic. They also helped further an excellent healthcare supply chain.
Karen led her team, and together they were able to step up in exemplary ways in the past year. In terms of providing testing, and then vaccines, they helped their community immensely. Karen led a value-driven healthcare project, one grounded in collaboration, servant leadership, and innovation. One of their greatest achievements was setting up daily mass vaccination sites — to vaccinate people efficiently and effectively all over Acadiana with an average of 1,000 vaccines administered daily.
Born and raised in rural south Louisiana, Karen has built relationships throughout her career in healthcare for these communities resulting in trust and a commitment to serve. Karen uses her network and persuasive skills to get big venues to cooperate so they can facilitate local communities getting vaccinated.
Another driving force of their vaccine efforts was building trust and focusing on education. As healthcare professionals, they were able to build a feeling of trust, which made people feel comfortable. Further, many people have been, and still are hesitant to get vaccinated due to a lack of knowledge and education. Karen and her team consistently make efforts to educate people on all vaccine related matters.
It was partly the numbers that got Karen and her team to act. In Louisiana, since the vaccines were distributed on December 15, 2020 to May 1, 2021, 60% of the population vaccinated were white, while only 19% were minorities. That made her realize that a lot of work had to be done. And, she decided ‘we need to go to the communities of high vulnerability and where the majority is minority families.’ Health equity is a focus for Karen and her Ochsner Lafayette General team. These efforts of establishing mobile sites in the communities to serve minority families was successful with a 5% increase of minorities becoming vaccinated in the month of May.
Karen states, “As a nurse and an advocate for serving our communities, especially those most in need, it was an overwhelming experience to support a team at Ochsner Lafayette General where thousands of lives were saved daily. There isn’t a more critical time to be a healthcare provider than when our families need us the most.”