By Christi Vasquez

El Centro de Corazón has seen a sharp increase in need from vulnerable patients this holiday season, as pre-existing challenges for East End area families have been exacerbated by the uncertain reality of the COVID-19 pandemic. But with the generosity of Houston Methodist employees, 30 El Centro families were provided with much-needed gifts for the holidays.

Since 2017, departments and individual employees at Houston Methodist have adopted El Centro families in need during the holidays. Every December, the families are identified by El Centro’s team of compassionate eligibility specialists in advance of the distribution dates. They provide each family’s specific wish list to the Houston Methodist team—such as clothing, bedding, household appliances, food—as well as ages and genders to guide them as they choose toys for the children.

Houston Methodist employees dropped off the gifts at El Centro’s Magnolia Health Center on Wednesday, December 9th in several trucks. Each family’s gifts were stored in a large box or more than one, depending on the size of the family. In addition to toys, items like microwaves, blenders, and bicycles were also given according to each family’s wish list. To ensure that each family did not suffer from food insecurity during the holidays, H-E-B donated grocery vouchers valid at any of their locations.

The selected families were invited to pick up their gifts the next day. The air in the clinic hummed with excitement, as the El Centro staff who nominated the patients greeted them as they arrived to pick up their gifts. Whether the parents came alone, or brought the whole family, the gifts were received with lots of smiles and appreciation.

Though 2020 was a difficult year for everyone, the generosity of Houston Methodist employees ensured that 30 El Centro patient families in need were able to celebrate the holidays with cheer and joy.

 

About Houston Methodist

Houston Methodist is one of the nation’s leading health systems and academic medical centers. The health system consists of seven hospitals: Houston Methodist Hospital, its flagship academic hospital in the Texas Medical Center, six community hospitals and one long-term acute care hospital throughout the Greater Houston metropolitan area. Houston Methodist also includes a research institute; a comprehensive residency program; international patient services; freestanding comprehensive care, emergency care and imaging centers; and outpatient facilities. Houston Methodist employs more than 22,000 people and has had more than 850,000 outpatient visits and more than 107,000 admissions in 2017.

About El Centro de Corazón

Founded in 1994, El Centro de Corazón (El Centro) is an accomplished Federally Qualified Health Center (FQHC) with four health center locations in Houston’s East End and offers a comprehensive range of adult and pediatric health care services for the underserved, uninsured, and underinsured, which includes primary care and family medicine, women’s health, dental, and behavioral health services. El Centro also provides ancillary services to assist patients to overcome barriers to accessing health care. In 2019, El Centro provided direct patient care to 12,978 low-income children and adults for a total of 46,595 patient visits.