MCH, ORMC recognized as 2021 Citizens of the Year

After a one-year hiatus due to the pandemic, the Odessa Chamber of Commerce is back with the annual Citizens of the Year Award luncheon.

The recipients are the healthcare professionals at Medical Center Health System and Odessa Regional Medical Center for their contributions to the health and well-being of the Odessa community.

The award luncheon will take place 11:30 a.m. Thursday at the Odessa Marriott Hotel and Conference Center where the employees from ORMC and MCH will be recognized.

“Odessa is full of wonderful people who do so many extraordinary things and each year, we receive nominations of people who are worthy of that award,” Odessa Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Renee Earls said. “After much discussion with the group it kept coming forward that this is such an extraordinary two years that we just didn’t feel like we couldn’t not recognize the health care professionals for all that they have done.”

In previous years, the award has gone to an individual and occasionally two people.

However, this will be the first time that the Citizen of the Year Award will go to a large group of people.

Considering the large amount of work the healthcare workers at ORMC and MCH have gone through in the last two years of the COVID-19 pandemic, Earls said it just felt right.

“We certainly had to think outside the box a little bit which was a little odd for us but we felt like we can’t let them not be recognized,” Earls said. “It’s been a community effort. There have been so many people that have stepped up. The health care professionals have ridden to the occasion and we want to give a special honor to them.”

The last person to be honored with the Citizen of the Year Award was David Boutin for 2019.

Odessa Chamber of Commerce Director of Operations Lynn Van Amburgh says the nomination process usually begins about a month or two in advance.

The process of selecting the winner is decided by the board members as well as members of the community.

“We send it out to our membership and have our membership submit nominations,” Van Amburgh said. “We got to the deadline and we have a committee of our board members and community members and they choose who they want with all the nominations and they’re the ones that come up with who we honor. It’s a nominating and a committee process.”

From dealing with a pandemic that is still not over to administering vaccines to a large community, 2021 was a challenging year for healthcare workers all around the globe including Odessa.

Earls praised the partnership from ORMC and MCH during the pandemic in helping the fight against COVID.

“Our two hospitals in our community have pulled together in so many ways and they have partnered and it’s a great example of how you really are better together,” Earls said. “While they’re competitors, they know at the end of the day, they’re here to take care of the community and they have done that and we’ve been so proud of them. They’ve had so many workers who have worked extra hours. They’ve had employees that have had their hours cut due to maybe their area being impacted, financially. They’ve had a tough couple of years. But yet, they continue to come to work every day and take care of those who are impacted by the pandemic. They’re out there saving lives every day and we want to do something to recognize them and thank them for their continued service.”

If you go

  • What: Citizens of the Year Luncheon.
  • When: 11:30 a.m. Thursday.
  • Where: Odessa Marriott Hotel and Conference Center.