Executive Director Hari K. Namboodiri stands inside the new Mid Valley Nursing & Rehab Center in Mercedes.

MERCEDES — Dub the occasion a structural beginning in what local and state leaders long hoped would be a transformative effort to improve healthcare in the region.

All the pomp and circumstance normally associated with such events will be expected on Wednesday, Nov. 30, when a grand opening and ribbon cutting ceremony will be held for the new Mid Valley Nursing & Rehab center.

Measuring 48,500 square feet, employing up to 120 full-time staff members and costing as much as $7 million in construction expenses, the facility dubbed a long-term care community will provide nursing, rehabilitation and respite services for as many as 123 residents at its 601 N. Mile 2 West location in Mercedes.

It’s there that construction crews are also building Knapp Medical Center’s neighboring Family Practice Residency Clinic — a collaboration in which UTRGV will serve as a teaching partner, and the Knapp Community Care Foundation, City of Mercedes and the Development Corporation of Mercedes have respectively committed $3.9 million and $1 million over several years.

Mercedes also contributed at no cost the two acres of property where the clinic is being constructed.

The goal is to produce more physicians in the area, which is in acknowledgment of trends showing that doctors are staying in the cities where they complete their residency.

The two entities, the nursing center and clinic, may be unrelated but remain linked in their common goal to create a health hub in the center of the Rio Grande Valley, where resources have long been limited.

Owned by San Antonio-based Touchstone Communications Inc., Mid Valley Nursing & Rehab represents the first phase of said efforts. To the staff, it’s a place that reverses a stigma that suggests nursing homes are uncaring of the elderly and ailing.

In fact, this is why it’s Touchstone’s preference to refer to their centers, of which there are 23 in Texas, as communities. Hari K. Namboodiri, a licensed nursing facility administrator in the Valley who was recently named the center’s executive director, based this mentality on Touchstone’s faith-based purpose being “to glorify God.”

“How do we glorify God? Through our actions and teamwork to help the community,” Namboodiri said inside one of the center’s administrative offices on Wednesday. “We wanted to change that perspective that leads people to think, ‘I don’t want to put my mom in a nursing home.’ But at Mid Valley Nursing & Rehab, we believe that we are not here to be served, but to serve.”

The center, which was built by Tyler, Texas-based SCI Construction Inc., was designed with such sentiments in mind. Meet-and-greet lounges, lobbies and living rooms, for instance, are among the first facilities visible upon entering the building. Its rehabilitation stations and cafeteria are visible and accessible to visitors for the sake of transparency, and the center’s four wings — which are divided between long-term and short-term care — are treated as actual neighborhoods.

Named Reyna, Rodeo, Rancho and Rio, these neighborhoods are adorned in Mexican, Western and classic décor. There, residents’ rooms come equipped with flat screen TVs and are spacious, air conditioned and accommodating to visitors.

There’s also smaller dining and living rooms at the end of each neighborhood should residents not want to eat in the cafeteria. Outside the center will be a gazebo, gardens and a small trail to encourage brisk walks and other outdoor activities.

“We’re always reinventing the culture of long-term care by finding new ways and means to take the needs and wants of senior citizens seriously,” Namboodiri said. “From that perspective, we’ve always believed that the secret of success is doing the common thing uncommonly well. Based on that philosophy, we wanted to think outside the box.”

In a statement, Hernan Gonzalez, executive director for the Development Corporation of Mercedes, also pointed to the center’s and residency’s proximity to South Texas ISD’s Sci Tech and Med High academies, which he referred to as “the best high schools in the nation.”

“… We now have a new power center in the community,” Gonzalez further noted.

Touchstone CEO Stan Studer Jr., also in a statement, called the center a “state-of-the-art community that will benefit this area of Texas for generations to come.”

Studer added, “We are also very pleased to be supporting the Rio Grande Valley from an economic standpoint given the hiring of many caring and dedicated team members who are ready to serve. …Serving the residents of the Mid-Valley and becoming a part of the Mercedes community is something we have wanted to do for quite some time, and I hope to see everyone at the ribbon cutting.”

The grand opening is open to the public and scheduled from 5 to 7 p.m., with the official program and ribbon cutting slated for 5:45 p.m.

Those wishing to inquire about possible residency at the center can visit, or call Namboodiri at (956) 243-1043. The center’s website is midvalleynursingrehab.com.