Q&A: Celebrating 100 Years of Community Care with Karen Barber

THA joined Karen Barber, CEO of Yoakum Community Hospital, to celebrate the hospital’s 100-year anniversary in the small community of Yoakum, Texas.


In May, Yoakum Community Hospital (YCH), located in the small community of Yoakum, Texas, celebrated the hospital’s 100-year anniversary. For the last century, Yoakum residents have relied on the 23-bed not-for-profit hospital for critical access to quality care. To celebrate the monumental milestone, YCH hosted a century celebration event that brought together hospital staff, patients, families and Yoakum community members.

THA sat down with Yoakum Community Hospital CEO Karen Barber to discuss the hospital and its impact on the Yoakum community over the years. Barber has been at YCH for more than 30 years, beginning as nurse and now leading the facility as CEO. Continue reading to see what she shared with us.

What drove you to pursue a career in the health care industry? Why did you become a nurse?

I was never really around health care growing up and I had no family members in the medical field. I was first fascinated by the health care industry when I was a patient with the births of my children. I remember fondly the obstetrics (OB) nurses who tended to me and my babies. They were compassionate and kind, and I thought I’d like to be able to help others as these nurses so compassionately helped me.

Karen Barber CEO of Yoakum Community Hospital giving a speech at the hospitals 100 year anniversary celebration event in May 2022

What motivated you to move into a hospital leadership role? How do you think starting out as an RN has helped you in your role as CEO?

When I was in nursing, I never imagined being a CEO. Through prayer and the support of family and peers, I have transitioned into the roles the hospital needed me in. I really wanted the best for the hospital. YCH wasn’t just my job, it was my pride and second family. Working as a nurse helped me establish a foundation of strong relationships with our medical staff and employees. It helped me have a deeper level of understanding of what we need in order to take care of the workers who treat our patients, who are also our family and friends.

What’s unique about Yoakum Community Hospital being a small, rural hospital?

Rather than seeing our facility’s size and location as a challenge, I view being a rural hospital as a benefit. We are able to build more personal relationships with the community and local businesses than a larger, more urban facility might be able to. Being able to provide more personal care means a lot to me as well as our staff.

In hard times, and especially throughout the pandemic, how have you kept morale high among health care workers and patients in your hospital?

Through the pandemic, morale was boosted by our strong community support. Our Board Members provided employees with a dinner and a breakfast, Auxiliary members would bake goodies for staff, local businesses and volunteers would bring care packages and treats and we even had anonymous donors who bought breakfast through our Bistro. Our staff was willing to go above and beyond, and their hearts really shined. We established a COVID-19 team and our goal was to stay ahead of anything that could arise due to the pandemic. Being surrounded by a strong leadership team contributed to our success through this pandemic.

Can you describe what 100 years for the Yoakum Community Hospital means to you, your staff and the community?

In 1922, we started out as John Huth Memorial Hospital, then Huth Memorial Hospital, Huth Catholic Hospital, Yoakum Catholic Hospital and now Yoakum Community Hospital.

The word “community” in our current name stands out, as it really is what we’ve always been about: community. Our success has been possible thanks to our community members.


We have dealt with financial challenges, outdated facilities, limited equipment, changes in ownership, dramatic changes in health care rules and regulations and, most recently, COVID-19. Through it all we have overcome obstacles together and with the support from our community.

Beginning with the devout nuns who cared for our community and the first babies who were born here, generations have witnessed the passionate care we provide. We have so much to be proud of: 100 years of selfless service, 100 years of caring, 100 years of growing, adapting and maintaining the legacy we support today.

It has been a privilege to be a part of YCH for the last 30 years and I’m especially proud to now be leading us into the next century. I am confident that the respect, integrity, stewardship and excellence we strive for will carry into the next 100 years, and Yoakum Community Hospital will continue to be recognized for comprehensive health care close to home.