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Karen Barber Receives Texas Hospital Association’s Pioneer Award

Karen Barber, RN, chief executive officer of Yoakum Community Hospital, has been awarded with the Texas Hospital Association’s Pioneer Award, an annual honor that recognizes excellence in rural hospital management. 


Yoakum Community Hospital is a 25-bed Critical Access Hospital. Barber, who began her career as a nurse at the hospital in 1992, was promoted to chief executive officer in 2006. During her time at Yoakum, the hospital has added new physicians and services, begun the transition to electronic medical records and paid down a significant portion of its debt.


“Karen’s roots are firmly planted in Yoakum, and she understands the challenges that come with rural life and rural health care,” said Elorine Sitka, chair of the Yoakum Community Hospital Board of Trustees. “Her leadership is the common thread that has woven the board, hospital staff and community together.”


With such a large number of elderly residents in the hospital’s service area, Barber recognized the need to have more specialty services. Within the past four years, the hospital recruited an ophthalmologist, a gynecologist, an additional orthopedic surgeon, two additional cardiologists and two family practice physicians, one of whom provides obstetric services.


You can find Barber making rounds at the hospital where she spends time in individual workstations and visiting with patients. A number of quality improvement initiatives have been implemented during her tenure, and the hospital received the Texas Health Care Quality Improvement Achievement Award from the TMF Health Quality Institute in 2007 for improving care for heart failure, pneumonia and heart attack patients.


Barber also sets a high value on community outreach and works hard to raise public awareness of the hospital and its services. She is an active member of the Yoakum Chamber of Commerce, which named the hospital Business of the Year in 2008.


“Karen is humble, open and deeply caring,” said Sitka. “The innate character that makes her a good nurse also makes her the best possible steward for the hospital.”


*Edited from a November 22, 2010 article in the Yoakum Herald Times.

CHC in the Spotlight