About Us

The Rio Bravo Chachalacas is the Rio Grande Valley’s Chapter of the Emergency Nurses Association. Our chapter is comprised of Emergency Nursing Professionals from South Texas. Our geographic area stretches from Port Isabel on the Gulf of Mexico as far west as Laredo.

This chapter represents nurses from the Rio Grande Valley of South Texas including Cameron, Willacy, Hidalgo and Starr County and stretches as far west as Laredo! We are an official Chapter of the National Emergency Nurses Association! Our Chapter number is 438!

Rio Bravo mark

Meet our 2021 Officers



Aaron Salinas is a Family Nurse Practitioner and Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner with over 10 years of experience in Pre-hospital/Emergency Care. His background includes working in EMS, emergency department, and Clinical Assistant Professor with the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley School of Nursing. Currently, Aaron holds the President-Elect Position, Government Affairs Chair, and Newsletter Editor. 

Molly Jacob RN, MSN, CAISS, CSTR


Molly Jacob RN is a registered nurse with over 34 years of nursing experience.  Currently she works as trauma registrar at Valley Baptist Medical Center in Brownsville and holds certifications of CAISS and CSTR.  She has been a life-time ENA member and is part of the Rio Bravo Chachalacas Chapter #438 TNCC and ENPC instructor team.

Pedro Mercado APRN, MSN, BSN, FNP, NP-C

Immediate past-President

Mercado has been a nurse for over 30 years from an LVN to RN.  His nursing career includes working in medical-surgical units and emergency room setting.  He has held administrative positions from house supervisor to director of nurses in various nursing homes.  Recently Mercado obtained his advanced practice certification as a family nurse practitioner and is currently pursuing his DNP in gerontology.  He is the proud owner of an adult day care center for the past 15 years called La Cadenita and therefore is not able to work fulltime time as an NP.  Mercado, however, works part time in Harlingen where he does educational trainings for nursing staff and is initiating a project called Doc Talk where physicians will perform a series of lectures for nursing staff staring Feb. 2020.  He has been a member of Rio Bravo Chachalacas for several years now and currently serves as chapter President.

Nelly Vela, RN, BSN, CEN, TCRN


Charge Nurse Team leader of the Emergency Department at Valley Baptist Medical Center – Brownsville. I have been a Nurse for 17 years, the last seven as an Emergency Department Nurse. I have found a passion for Emergency Nursing. ENA member for four years. At present, I hold a secretary position for the Rio Grande Chachalacas Chapter. I have learned so much from this professional organization. I continue to pursue growth as a student of the University of Texas at Arlington. I am currently enrolled in the Master’s of Nursing program to become an Adult-Geriatric Acute Care Nurse Practitioner.  

Chris Chizek RN, BSN, MEd, CCRN, CEN, TCRN


Christine A. Chizek, MEd, BSN, RN, NPD-BC, CCRN-K, CEN, TCRN is the Market Director of Professional Development for the HCA Gulf Coast Division South Texas Market. Chris is a registered nurse with over 29 years of experience as an educator, leader and clinician specializing in emergency nursing. In addition to her role with HCA, Chris is actively involved with the Emergency Nurses Association (ENA) and received the 2015 and 2018 Texas ENA Nursing Education Award for her work with training professionals and community members in the Rio Grande Valley.

Sarah Souffrant


Coming soon

Jennifer Volcy

Upper Valley Director

Coming soon

Marcela Gomez-Martinez RN, BSN, TNCC, CENPC, ACLS, BLS

Lower Valley Director

Marcela Gomez-Martinez is a registered nurse with over 48 years of nursing experience.  Currently she works at Valley Baptist Medical Center as charge nurse in the emergency department. She holds certifications in TNCC, CENPC, ACLS, and BLS.  Gomez-Martinez has been a lifetime member of the ENA since the 1970’s and currently serves as lower valley director board member.

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