Karen Urban’s involvement with CHRISTUS Spohn began in 2003, soon after she and her late husband, Michael O’Connor, had spent time at the Mayo Clinic as he battled multiple myeloma. She has been involved ever since as a donor and as an organizer.
In her time with Spohn, Karen has organized fundraising efforts and helped recruit health care professionals to the Spohn system. Most recently, she and her husband, Larry Urban, helped oversee and finance the construction of a chapel in the new Shoreline Patient Care Tower. To them, the chapel represents a portion of the hope Spohn brings to the community in a network of metaphorical beacons.
“The north beacons is the Texas State Aquarium, which is a beacon of education and entertainment. Then to the South is Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi as well as Del Mar College, which are beacons of education. CHRISTUS Spohn – Shoreline, centrally located, is a beacon of hope,” Karen said. “If you don’t have a healthy community, none of the other beacons will shine very brightly. You’ve got to have the underpinning of good health to sustain everything else in this town.”
According to Karen, the chapel also represents faith and its role in the mission of CHRISTUS Spohn.
“The chapel is a beacon of faith within the beacon of hope,” Karen said. “It’s symbolic of all we stand for: our mission to extend the healing ministry of Jesus Christ. We are a Catholic, faith-based ministry. We are a ministry that accepts and serves anyone and everyone who walks through our doors.”
Furthermore, Karen Urban believes the chapel demonstrates the principles of Spohn to the entire community. “The chapel represents our values and what we believe in as a community,” Karen said. “It’s open to everyone who wants to worship here. It’s a community of worship for everyone: Associates, physicians, and community members.”
The connection Karen sees between faith and hope further motivated her commitment to the new chapel.
“I think faith and hope are so closely intertwined,” Karen said. “If you have faith, hope naturally follows and what follows hope is peace. We all need a place of solace and a place to get on our knees and ask God for help. I received tremendous comfort and peace in the many hours I spent in the chapels at the Mayo Clinic while Michael was receiving treatment there. That is why I do what I can to help ensure people in our community have the same opportunity.”
The chapel in the new tower is the second chapel Karen has contributed to and seen to completion. Her first big project at Spohn was at the CHRISTUS Spohn Cancer Center – Shoreline. She immediately saw the need for a chapel in that location and quickly worked to have one built there.
In the new patient tower, the chapel is located on the first floor and is easily accessible. “I know from personal experience the impact the chapel has on patients and their families. WE deliberately placed the chapel on the first floor because we all agreed we want everyone to be able to find it quickly.”
The construction of the new chapel is just the latest effort by Karen and Larry Urban, and other likeminded community members to reinforce Spohn’s commitment and mission to the community. Karen’s confidence for the future of CHRISTUS Spohn remains steadfast.
“I think that this new medical center is absolutely one of the best things that’s happened to Corpus Christi in a very long time. Our new medical center is going to make us the premier hospital providing quality care to every single patient who comes through our doors.”
In her time at Spohn, Karen has come to believe in the potential and promise of its facilities.
“I love Spohn. I love that it has become a focal point in providing extraordinary health care,” Karen said. “I want to see it sustain that for years. There are fantastic things happening within those walls and there’s more to come.”
Getting involved, according to Karen, is something she learned as a child. “When I was a little kid, I had a box with little envelopes in it. Every Sunday, I got to put my money in that envelope and drop it in the collection plate,” Karen said. “If you have a family who believes in giving and starts you out at that age, you kind of grow up wanting to give.”
As Spohn continues to expand and change, Karen wants its history to be preserved for future generations to see the culmination of its founders and all involved.
“Saving every single bit of history is part of our legacy to our families and communities for years to come,” Karen said. “When you save artifacts and when you save pieces of construction that people believed in, you really are extending the legacy and that’s so important.” As the new chapel neared completion, Karen was hands on and frequently at the construction site to ensure that as many of the furnishings as possible from the old chapel were moved across the street to the new chapel.
As Karen put it, she isn’t doing anything spectacular, she wants to play a part in the work that gets done in any way possible.
“Time, talent and treasure,” Karen said. “I’ve always believed in being a stakeholder rather than a placeholder and that involves lots of things: hugging an Associate or hugging a nurse or a patient in the hospital. That also involves getting significantly involved with fundraising.”