Jacob Evans starts his day with a 60-minute commute. He and his wife, a physician assistant for Prisma Health and a UofSC graduate, are based in Columbia. A 2019 graduate of the Master of Health Administration program, Evans had job opportunities in the metropolitan area, but that wasn’t where he was most needed.
After a successful residency in Laurens, South Carolina to complete his master’s program, Evans accepted a position at Prisma Health’s Laurens County Hospital – one of the few rural medical centers that hasn’t closed in recent years. Only a year into his role as strategic project coordinator, Evans, like many hospital administrators, had to quickly adapt to the unexpected challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic.
With the establishment of community vaccination sites in larger areas across the state at the beginning of 2021, it became apparent that access to the vaccine was not readily available in rural communities like Laurens. With this in mind, Evans and an interdisciplinary group of experts from Prisma Health worked with city employees to establish the state’s first rural mass vaccination site.
The impact that the vaccine site has had is a testament to what a truly collaborative endeavor and the relentless pursuit of excellence can achieve when putting the patient and community at the forefront of our efforts.
-Jacob Evans, Master of Health Administration, 2019
“Early on, we could see that the community’s only readily available points of access were in the major population hubs of Greenville and Columbia,” Evans says. “Being from Columbia, I have an appreciation for how taxing an hour-long drive on the interstate with potentially inclement weather and traffic can be. It was clear that such a travel requirement could quickly become a deterrent for the residents of Laurens and surrounding counties to receiving the vaccine.”
Within two weeks of the initial start of vaccination clinics, Evans and his team made a change that would impact the lives of thousands in rural South Carolina. The City of Laurens Mayor made a city parks and recreation facility known as The Ridge available for use as a Prisma Health vaccination site.
“At our new location at The Ridge, a truly collaborative effort is in place with use of the city’s facility, National Guard medics and personnel, graduate pharmacy students and Prisma Health team members all working together,” Evans says.
The smooth-running site has efficiently and effectively vaccinated over 10,000 rural South Carolinians since they opened on February 1 and has quickly become the benchmark for other vaccination sites in rural areas.
Each morning, Evans holds a huddle with 20 or so clinic personnel — some from the registration side, some from the vaccination side and a few more key personnel who handle maintenance, sanitation, technical support and other behind-the-scenes activities — to discuss the number of vaccines they have on hand, how many they expect to receive, how many appointments they have scheduled, and how many same-day appointments they might be able to accommodate.
“I have never been more proud to have been part of a project or work with a team of individuals than this,” Evans (pictured standing at the back in the group photo above) says. “The impact that the vaccine site has had is a testament to what a truly collaborative endeavor and the relentless pursuit of excellence can achieve when putting the patient and community at the forefront of our efforts.”
Prisma Health has administered more than 380,000 vaccines as of May 11. As the largest vaccine provider of Pfizer vaccine in South Carolina, Prisma Health is focused on helping build community immunity and is extremely proud of all its partnerships, including working closely with UofSC. For more information about Prisma Health’s COVID-19 vaccine efforts, visit prismahealth.org/vaccine.