Valley Baptist Gets Patients ‘Back on their Feet’



Mary Kay Moriarty stands at a table, concentrating on matching differently shaped wooden tiles to corresponding patterns printed on paper. This task is part of her rehabilitation for a broken femur at Valley Baptist Medical Center in Harlingen.

“It’s encouraging, it’s nurturing, and I would say it’s also challenging at times — everybody encourages you to do a little bit more every day and they make you want to do that,” she said of her experience there.

Moriarty is one of many patients who have experienced the quality care of the Valley Baptist orthopedics team, a group of individuals dedicated to working seamlessly to deliver excellent outcomes for all.

“Our patients here locally can turn to Valley Baptist Medical Center for comprehensive care and treatment,” said Dr. Rick Bassett, chairman of the center’s orthopedic surgery department. “Many times, a person will have to travel hundreds and hundreds of miles just so you can get this kind of treatment, but we offer this now to our patients here.”

Not having to travel or be transferred to other facilities is key in a patient’s treatment.

“The care of the patient does not only involve operation. It involves family care. It involves social care,” said Dr. Joseph Tejon, traumatologist at Valley Baptist. “If you don’t transfer the patients, the family comes to visit them. They have less stress, they have less worries. Even the transfer alone — if you have a major trauma, to take you from here to San Antonio, it takes three hours. Many things can happen to you on the road.”

Valley Baptist’s success in both orthopedic trauma cases and total joint replacements is drawing more people to Harlingen to seek care.

“We’ve been lucky enough and fortunate enough to be helping people throughout the community here, but in particular a lot of people now come down from across the country to take care of their knees and their orthopedic needs down here,” said Jaime Dones, a physician assistant who works with Bassett. “It’s been nice to help people from everywhere.”

Valley Baptist completes more than 1,000 total knee replacements every year — not to mention the countless trauma cases the orthopedic surgery team addresses.

“My favorite part is, number one, helping the patients get back on their feet, helping them get better,” said Gilbert Salinas of Valley Baptist’s orthopedic department. “They come in, they can’t see the light. They have something broken. We get them to where they can finally see the end result — that they’re going to get better and they’re going to recover from their injuries.”

Sometimes, it’s the little touches that matter, like playing a patient’s favorite music in the operating room, or reassuring them when they’re nervous.

“I had a patient and I introduced myself and he told me, ‘Elvira — that was my mother’s name who passed away a couple years ago,’” recalled Elvira Bowe, a circulating registered nurse. “He said he was feeling very anxious and was worried — he told me he could see his mother. I gave him my condolences and I told him, ‘your mom is with you — everything is going to be OK.”

Patient care is what makes a difference at Valley Baptist.

“What really counts are people,” Bassett said. “Yes, an institution is nice and equipment is nice. What really counts is the commitment of the medical personnel and physicians to care in their community. They routinely are recognized for the compassion they show and I am always happy to be able to introduce patients to our nurses and therapists because of the quality they give. I like to brag about our department a little bit because they do so well.”

Cutting edge operating rooms, equipment, and treatment that reduces chances for infection and gets patients back to their normal lives as soon as possible is a level of excellence that is par for the course here.

“I want the community to know that they can have confidence in this hospital and the orthopedic team that we have here at Valley Baptist,” said Joseph Lopez, a nurse who mainly works in the orthopedics OR. “We do a great job and we take care of our patients very well — like family.”

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