HARLINGEN — “Attention, health care professionals and hospitals, on behalf of law enforcement officials everywhere we salute you!”
That declaration, coming from the head of a procession of law enforcement vehicles, congratulated nurses, physicians, and other medical professionals Wednesday morning.
The procession, led by U.S. Customs and Border Protection, rolled past Valley Baptist Medical Center to salute health care heroes for their work under the strain of COVID-19.
The timing was fitting, since the tribute was held on the first day of Nurses Appreciation Week, which runs from May 6 to 12.
“ It’s been tiring making sure we’re safe, that the patients and staff are safe and not spreading the virus,” said Sarah Souffrant, a nurse at Valley Baptist in Harlingen.
“ Taking cautionary measures has been a big achievement in our practice,” Souffrant said.
The nurses and physicians in their grey and blue scrubs and face masks laughed and spoke jovially among themselves.
“ They let you all out?” one asked to another group of nurses.
“ Yes, they always let us out,” came the reply.
One of the health care workers wore a red shirt and colors of the American flag to show her support as she awaited the procession.
Several adjusted their face masks on their noses as grackles fussed in the trees. Anticipation for the procession filled the sunny morning.
“ There, they are over there,” said a nurse. “See the lights? They are coming.”
And so they did.
The flashing blue and red lights created an upbeat, celebrative atmosphere as vehicles from Brownsville and Harlingen police departments, Veterans Affairs and other entities passed the hospital.
“ I am very proud of my team here at Valley Baptist,” said CEO Manny Vela.
“ I think everybody recognizes around the country the extreme conditions that exist because of the coronavirus,” Vela said. “Any and all shows of support to our health care team is appreciated.”
He emphasized that anyone needing to come to the hospital should do so without hesitation.
“ We have the most incredible health care team in the world,” he said. “Our community can be extremely confident that our team can take care of any of their health care needs, including corona.”
The dedication of physicians and nurses was clearly evident.
As a young man in scrubs crossed the street, several others asked, “Are you in the procession sir?” to which he replied, “No, I have 25 patients to see.”