After nurse Carla Brown lost her husband to COVID-19 after bringing the virus home from her job, she made it her personal mission to save every life possible.
First, the Baton Rouge nurse set out to educate her neighbors and get people tested. Then, when vaccines became available, she walked door-to-door and helped elderly people register for the jab and get to their appointments.
In August, she broke her personal goal of getting 2,000 inoculated and earned a commendation from Gov. John Bel Edwards as a "true Louisiana hero."
And on Tuesday, hours after the state reported 98 new deaths from the virus, Louisiana Healthcare Connections gave Brown a $25,000 honorarium in recognition of her personal fight against COVID-19.
"All I want to do is save lives," Brown said. "All I ask is that you get vaccinated. It's no reason for nobody to die now. We have a vaccine."
Carla Brown often prays as she administers the COVID vaccine, asking God to help her find more people who want the shot so she doesn’t waste h…
Speaking at a press conference at Open Healthcare Connections, Edwards said Nurse Carla is living up to the call from St. Francis of Assisi to be an "instrument of peace."
"I wish we had a thousand more Nurse Carlas," Edwards said, noting that the Louisiana Department of Health recently launched an initiative in her name. It has already onboarded 14 nurses to follow her lead in door-to-door outreach.
There have been 286 deaths from COVID-19 complications in Louisiana over the last seven days. The vast majority of the deaths in this latest and worst surge have been among unvaccinated residents, according to LDH data.
Louisiana Healthcare Connections recently filmed a public service announcement featuring Nurse Carla's story and her plea to get vaccinated.
"Oftentimes people believe that you have to have a title or position to change the trajectory of a life or a community. Well, you see, Nurse Carla is a demonstration that you don't have to have either," said East Baton Rouge Mayor-President Sharon Weston Broome. "That is true service to humanity."
With tears streaming down her face, Brown concluded her remarks at Tuesday's press conference by imploring the public to think about the doctors and nurses on the frontlines.
"Right now their lives are turned upside down," Brown said. "They cannot go home and hug loved ones because they’re still caring for those with the COVID disease. All I can ask to ease their burden is get vaccinated and get it now."
COVID-19 tests and vaccinations remain free to anyone, with or without medical insurance. Find testing sites and vaccination clinics near you by visiting ldh.la.gov.
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Gov. John Bel Edwards welcomed a hospice nurse who spends her time driving across Baton Rouge vaccinating people to his latest press briefing.