Nurses to Give “Tokens” of Appreciation During Nurses Week

Nurses at Tucson Medical Center will have their own tokens of appreciation to distribute during Nurses Week this year.

 Instead of a nursing gift, TMC for the first time is giving its roughly 1,150 nurses, as well as its patient care technicians, behavioral health technicians, speech therapists and unit clerks, wooden tokens worth $1 that they can choose to donate to one of three charities. The deadline to “vote” for a charity is the last day of April, so that the charities can receive their checks during Nurses Week in early May. Voting boxes for the roughly 2,500 tokens are expected to be placed in each unit.

 “Even though nurses already do so much to help the community, I think it’s a great way to do even more to help people who are struggling,” said  Christan Beier, a registered nurse who is co-chair of TMC’s professional development council. The group develops educational activities and is involved with nursing recognition programs.

 Chief Nursing Officer Cheryl Young said the three charities came recommended by the professional council as organizations that represented TMC values.

 “This year, we thought we would do something different as a nursing group,” Young said. “Looking at the values of TMC and recognizing that we’re a community hospital, it just seems appropriate during Nurses Week to give back to the community.”

 In alphabetical order, here’s a quick look at the featured charities:

 Community Food Bank of Southern Arizona

 The food bank, which opened in 1976, distributed an average of 27,000 emergency food boxes each month throughout last fiscal year. That number has climbed to more than 30,000 a month for the current year.

Aside from the food box program, and with an eye on promoting healthy, local food, the organization’s staff and volunteers teach community members how to grow a garden in their back yard. The Food Bank also manages five farmer’s markets throughout the community.

The stagnant economy has led to higher demand, said spokesman Jack Parris. Just four years ago, the food bank was providing assistance to about 98,000 people a month. That number now rests at about 225,000 people a month.

While financial donations have held relatively steady throughout the downturn, Parris said surplus food donations from the USDA have dropped by about 3 million pounds from a year ago at this time. That reduction, combined with an increase in the price of food, is presenting a challenge in helping the unemployed, the underemployed, the ill and the otherwise needy, Parris said.

For each dollar donated, the Food Bank can distribute $9.50 worth of food..

 Integrative Touch for Kids

 Founded in 2005 and based in Tucson since 2006, Integrative Touch has a goal of creating a new model for health and wellness for children with special needs, ranging from development disabilities to cancer and other chronic medical conditions.

The program serves about 350 children and their families every year, said Executive Director Shay Beider.

One of the focal points of the charity is a week-long retreat for children and their families, in recognition of the stress that families can be under. Therapies offered to the roughly 200 retreat participants include massage, meditation, acupuncture, reiki, yoga, or other ways to reinforce the mind-body-spirit connection.

The families not only have the opportunity to experience the therapy, but to learn specific tools to continue to use the techniques in their healing. For example, participants might learn basic massage or experience reflexology and then learn about points on the body that can relieve pressure.

“When a child has special health needs, their family has special health needs,” Beider said.

 The Judge Marks Employee Assistance Fund

 When Superior Court Judge Jack Marks died at TMC in 1983, his widow, Selma Paul Marks, created a fund to do something to help the hospital employees who had made such a difference in her husband’s care.

On average, the fund helps roughly 100 employees annually.

Employees can receive up to $500 in assistance. The employees, whose names are kept confidential, are not required to pay the money back, although they are encouraged to do so once their finances stabilize.

Steve Rivera, a human resources generalist who has responsibility for the fund, said many times, employees seek assistance with paying rent, utilities or car insurance, or just getting through the holidays.

In one recent case, an employee incurred some additional medical expenses while moving into an apartment complex and needed assistance moving in. In another case, an employee wasn’t only dealing with medical expenses and depression, but was a victim of theft and needed rental assistance.

“Anytime you work in an organization, you gain relationships with your co-workers and you develop some empathy for what’s going on in their lives,” Rivera said. “As a community hospital, we have a focus on giving back to the community. This is a way we can also help employees going through difficult times.””

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Tucson Medical Center | 5301 E. Grant Road | Tucson, Arizona 85712 | (520) 327-5461
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