In 2019, the CEO of St. Martin Parish Hospital Karen Wyble fought to keep her rural hospital alive as many others closed down. As a leader, she recognized the importance to the community of having a rural hospital that their citizens can easily access. Karen joined Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards as he signed the SB 36 bill into law. 

This law will protect rural hospitals from being shut down through the use of regulation of emergency departments. As Karen introduced the governor, she described the significance of what a rural hospital means to its community: 

“Healthcare is more than what occurs in the walls of a hospital: we know healthcare is the center of our communities, the center of our rural economy, creating jobs and making it a very easy decision for families to move to our rural communities. 

“It is getting outside the walls of the hospital and partnering with the community Parish jails to provide 24/7 care to our incarcerated. That means we are going to have telemedicine, nursing around the clock, and accessibility to a physician around the clock. Once released, they’re going to be seen in our Medicaid clinic here at our rural hospital where they will get a comprehensive care medically and also for behavioral health and addictive problems. There is an article, Rural Hospital Closures Rise to 98’ in Rural Health Voices. Jessica Seigel (author) acknowledges that without a rural hospital, a community will crumble. It is such a great honor for me to welcome the great leader of our state, that truly understands the value of rural hospitals for its communities across the state.”

Karen acknowledges that what a hospital does for a community does not happen solely inside the hospital, but that the benefits of a rural hospital extend past the hospital’s walls and translate into other parts of the community, one of which is the local jail. 

In a video for the local news station, Karen goes into detail on what healthcare for the incarcerated looks like and what it means for the community. 

Watch the video here or read what Karen had to say below.

ST. MARTINVILLE — The nearly 200 inmates at St. Martin Parish Correctional Center are now receiving health care in a different way.

Thanks to a grant from the USDA, the jail partnered with St. Martin Hospital to provide telemedicine services.

Telemedicine connects inmates to a health care provider.

“For the first time, we now have accessibility to physicians and nurse practitioners any day of the week: holiday, weekends, nights,” explained St. Martin Hospital CEO Karen Wyble.

An inmate can receive immediate treatment at the jail from a nurse without having to be escorted to the hospital.

Parish President Chester Cedars says the new program is saving the parish money.

“The ability to have telemedicine capabilities, the provision of medical care on a 24-7 basis has eliminated those types of transportation costs,” said Cedars.

Once it’s determined that an inmate needs medical attention, a deputy will escort the inmate to a room where a nurse will assess them. The nurse will then determine if the assistance of telemedicine is needed.

Inmates will also receive follow-up care once they’re released from jail. Through the program, they will be given a Medicaid card and can receive treatment at the hospital’s community health clinic.

“As a result of the enhanced treatment, [the parish will] probably [see] a reduction in repeat offenders,” said Cedars.

The hospital’s CEO says the program sets inmates up for success in the future.

“Allowing them to have the care they need 24-7 has really given them the inspiration and the hope that they can do better and that we do care about them,” said Wyble.”

Original Article

Article that Karen quotes

Read more from Karen Wyble

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