ORLANDO, Fla. – A small business owner and nurse practitioner is being honored by News 6 for her commitment to getting 380 people in her community COVID-19 vaccines.
Karen Buckalew is a board certified nurse practitioner and small business owner in the Mills 50 district.
“The silver lining was that people found me through COVID testing,” Buckalew said.
Boutiq Medical Clinic began as a direct primary care provider but quickly made a pivot to include COVID-19 testing during the pandemic.
“As a small business who just opened exactly when COVID started, you know, I had to figure everything out on my own,” Buckalew said.
The rapid, PCR and antibody tests were available during the pandemic, at a time when people were waiting in long lines, sometimes for hours, to find out if they had COVID-19.
“They were testing positive,” Buckalew said.
Buckalew said as soon as she could, she wanted to be able to offer the COVID-19 vaccines to her community.
She was able to request the vaccines through the Florida SHOTS system and was approved.
“I was able to get the Janssen Johnson & Johnson vaccine and that turned out to be what a lot of people had been waiting for,” Buckalew said.
Buckalew talked with the Ivanhoe Village director and Mills 50 director. Both helped volunteer and put the word out on social media.
“For four days, the line was truly wrapped around the building for those shots. People were very, very excited,” Buckalew said.
Buckalew said when she entered them one by one into the Florida SHOTS system, it turned out to be 380 vaccines.
She said being able to provide the vaccine to her community was an emotional experience.
“Providing the vaccine in that moment was very emotional. I even had a couple people who broke down and started crying because they were just overwhelmed with relief,” Buckalew said. “In the end, it is lifesaving.”
Her business is operating now to provide medical services and vitamin injections to patients.
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