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SVMHS Launches Rose River Memorial

SVMHS Launches Rose River Memorial

A photo of the father she lost to COVID-19 was close by as Maria Munoz, RN cut into red felt fabric and participated in the Rose River Memorial project launched by Salinas Valley Memorial Healthcare System.

“My dad’s battle with COVID lasted a few weeks to a month here at Salinas Valley Memorial Hospital,” Maria Munoz, RN at SVMHS recounted through tears. “Despite the amazing care given and the countless hours of treatment, he lost his battle to COVID on Valentine’s Day 2021. His death has been the hardest thing my family has ever had to go through.”

Maria is one of many volunteers helping to create more than 800 red felt roses to represent each life lost in Monterey County due to COVID-19. Nadine Semer, MD, palliative care physician at Salinas Valley Memorial Healthcare System spearheaded the Rose River Memorial project after witnessing the impact of COVID on hospital staff and the community at large. The memorial is part of a larger national art installation launched during the pandemic by a Southern California artist.

“When the coronavirus surfaced in early 2020, no one could have imagined how long the threat would last or the toll it would take,” says Dr. Nadine Semer, SVMHS palliative care physician. “Healthcare workers and families directly impacted with loss are not alone in our lingering struggle to make sense of what we endured. Many of us are living with devastating experiences and powerful emotions such as pain, loss, frustration, isolation and helplessness just to name a few.”

SVMHS is proud to lead the community wide effort and has partnered with Heal Together heal-together.org to promote the growing initiative. Additional public rose-making sessions are planned this month and an unveiling of the completed Rose River Memorial is planned for March 6 in Salinas.

“I commend Dr. Semer for her passion and leadership in bringing this idea forward,” says Pete Delgado, president/CEO of Salinas Valley Memorial Healthcare System. “In many ways, it would be nice to be able to put this chapter behind us, but the virus is still here and so is the pain. This project helps the community heal together.”

Delgado and Dr. Semer agree the Rose River Memorial is also a poignant reminder that we have safe and effective vaccines that can significantly reduce the number of future roses added to this ongoing national remembrance.

“I can say that gathering with other people on this project has been therapeutic,” says Munoz. “It’s important to me that lives like my father’s be remembered and our pain honored, however it’s equally important, to help our community heal.”

SVMHS is inviting community members to participate in additional rose making sessions taking place Thursday, January 12, 4-7pm and Saturday, January 21 from 10am-2pm. The public can send questions to roserivermemorial@svmh.com.

A video on the project origins is located here and additional information can be found at www.roseriver.memorial.

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