During one of her shifts at MU Health Care’s COVID-19 vaccination clinic at Faurot Field, Labea Butler, LPN, saw an opportunity to make a connection. A boy with autism came in with his father to get vaccinated, and Butler and the boy quickly bonded while talking about Pokémon, a popular trading card and video game.
His first shot went so smoothly, Butler told the family she would be there for his second dose. When he returned, Butler had a surprise for him, giving him a Poké Ball keychain.
“It just made his day, which definitely warmed my heart and made my day,” Butler said.
Butler has always puts others’ needs first as a charge nurse at the Family Medicine clinic on Keene Street and in her role organizing and working at MU Health Care’s flu and COVID-19 vaccination clinics. That spirit guided the Columbia native and inspired her to work in medicine from a young age.
"It has been an honor to be part of this pandemic solution, to be able to give the vaccines out to others and to help our community,” Butler said. “For me to be able to give back to the underserved parts of our community was one of the greatest experiences I’ve had.”
Butler served as MU Health Care’s operations manager of COVID-19 outreach. She coordinated with Columbia/Boone County Public Health and Human Services and Boone Health to organize 14 outreach clinics around Columbia, with locations ranging from city parks to local fire stations to a salon.
“Labea was a natural fit to represent MU Health Care in that collaboration,” said Jeanette Linebaugh, the MU School of Medicine’s senior director of department and clinical operations for the Department of Surgery. “Her smile, personality and enthusiasm can light up a room. She’s engaging, and she wants to give and help people.”
Butler’s goal was to make the clinics fun and inviting for everyone. While working with MU Health Care’s Ariel Van Doorne, CMA, and Lamyia Burgett, LPN, they dubbed themselves the ‘ALL Star team,’ based on their first initials, so Butler had shirts made with their pictures and names.
“Being able to help others and the appreciation I get from the patients and people I help is very rewarding,” Butler said. “It makes me feel like I chose the right career.”