Spiritual communities show appreciation through “Adopt a Unit” program at VBMC

Maricela Rodriguez/Valley Morning Star

As teams at Valley Baptist Medical Center-Harlingen continue to provide vital healthcare to their community during the COVID-19 pandemic, local spiritual organizations have banded together to show their appreciation for those tireless efforts.

Dubbed the “Adopt a Unit,” the program is an opportunity for the local religious community to show healthcare workers at Valley Baptist-Harlingen – including those from the state’s strike force in addition to teams from the U.S. Army and U.S. Navy – they are not alone as they continue to battle COVID-19.

“Valley Baptist leadership and Pastoral Services were searching for ways to support staff as we continue through these difficult days during the pandemic. A multi-approach plan was developed to intentionally care for our staff,” said Joe Perez, Valley Baptist Harlingen vice president mission and ministry. “We looked at resources within our system and in the community that could be accessed, and one of those resources is the local religious community. So, we invited local religious groups to participate.”

Only a few weeks into the program, nearly a dozen local religious groups have stepped up to adopt various units at Valley Baptist-Harlingen. Perez said that the groups have shown their appreciation in a wide variety of ways, from gathering outside the hospital in small groups while maintaining appropriate social distancing guidelines to pray for patients and employees to crafting cards and letters of appreciation, inspiration, and prayers for employees to read during breaks and visits to the hospitals three designated quiet spaces.

Called “Our Heroes’ Quiet Spaces,” the locations are designed to help healthcare providers relieve some of the stresses of navigating the COVID-19 pandemic.

Perez said the “Adopt a Unit” program helps healthcare teams at Valley Baptist manage the stress of dealing with continued high-stress situations as the COVID-19 pandemic continues.

“Valley Baptist has been a community based hospital since its inception. We feel a deep connection to our mission to care for the people of the community. Our permanent staff is from this community and is committed to holistic care of patients, families and community,” he said. “Our team members are dealing with the stress of the pandemic both personally with their families and professionally as they risk their health in the care of others. Encouragement from the community helps our team members remember their calling and receive encouragement for what there are doing day after day. Our temporary staff, who are sacrificing being away from their families, also experience the love of this community through these simple acts of kindness.”

Perhaps above all, Perez said the “Adopt a Unit” program is yet another reminder that the community plays an important role as we all continue to adjust to the realities of COVID-19 in the Rio Grande Valley.

“We are stronger facing the pandemic together than separate, and in doing so, we are practicing the second greatest commandment of loving our neighbor as ourselves. For health care workers, this usually means giving service to others,” he said. “But in a pandemic we also recognize the support we are receiving from our community as well.  Thanks to all who are participating in this initiative and all who are praying for our team members as they serve this the Rio Grande Valley community.”

Organizations interested in participating in the “Adopt a Unit” program can email pastoralservices@valleybaptist.net or call (956) 389-1194.