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From Bubble Baths to Burn Therapy, Donors Make a Difference

A group of about 80 key supporters heard from Tucson Medical Center leaders this week about the myriad ways their donations have helped heal the community.

“Whether it’s the beginning of life, the end of life and everything in between, it’s the margin of excellence that you provide us that allows us to do the work that we do,” said Vice President and Chief Development Officer Michael Duran, at an event at Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse & Wine Bar.

Among the services the community has helped fund:

  • With mammograms costing roughly $450 on average, the exam is out of reach for many lower income women. Since the TMC Foundation launched a program to provide the life-saving exams for free, more than 5,500 have been given to women throughout Southern Arizona. After 561 ultrasounds, 7 MRIs and 183 biopsies, 27 women were diagnosed with breast cancer and treated.
  • In pediatric therapies, donor funds help fill the gaps insurance doesn’t cover. In the case of one little boy, for example, insurance covered his hearing aid, but not the fitting or the therapy sessions he needed to adapt to the device. In another case, a little boy had been badly burned on his hands but after his father changed jobs, the insurance company refused to pay for therapy sessions, saying the burns were a pre-existing condition. With just three therapy sessions, he was able to have enough additional training that he had more functional use of his hands and was able to get on with the business of being 7 years old.
  • In TMC Hospice, a 30-year-old woman with metastatic cancer yearned to luxuriate in a bubble bath once again. TMC staff hooked up and cleaned a long-unused Jacuzzi tub in the Papago Building, the previous site of inpatient hospice. Since her spine and bones were fragile from the disease, a lift was used to put her in the tub. Nurses brought candles and music. The plumber that morning collected wildflowers throughout campus.
  • Donor funds have ensured private suites in the mother-baby unit during that tender time when a baby first enters the world.
  • Donors provided a Wii station in the pediatric unit to provide a distraction for children, which Maureen Warwick, the nursing director of women’s and children’s services said she appreciated firsthand. When her son was diagnosed with diabetes, she was concerned about his ability to take insulin injections. When it was time for his shot, she recalled him saying, “Make it fast. I’m winning.” “I never realized the power of those tolls of distraction until then,” she quipped.

President and CEO Judy Rich told donors TMC is in a strong position and assured donors their support is helping the hospital set the right course.

“This is the hospital that has figured out what our mission is,” she said. “We are here to take care of the community and we’re only here to take care of the community. That’s the only reason we exist.”

TMC would also like to give a special thank you to Fleming’s, as well as to the Stith family of SavOn Flowers and to Lisa Hilton of Hilton&Myers Advertising for designing the invitations.

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Riding high on a bubble bath

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The Pima County Fair may have started this week, but the best ride in the county on Friday morning was in the Papago Building at Tucson Medical Center. That’s where Tonya Swanson was gently hoisted off a gurney by a Hoyer lift and set into a warm bubble bath complete with soothing music, fresh-cut flowers and candlelight.

Swanson, 42, was admitted to TMC this past Monday as a result of complications from metastasized breast cancer. Her mother had been caring for her at home, where Swanson has been bed-bound since March.

“I’ve been waiting since Feb. 17 to take a bath,” she told the half dozen people assembled to help her.

Before being transferred from the acute-care unit to Peppi’s House, TMC’s inpatient hospice facility, Swanson expressed her wish to have a bath. When Hospice staff heard her request, they jumped into action to make it happen.

“I can’t tell you how responsive everyone was,” said Amy Olson, RN. “We must have made 25 calls and not a single person said ‘no.’ ”

It was a true team effort.

Calls went out to Employee Health, which now occupies the building, to take over the bathroom with the appropriate equipment.

“John Corbit, our plumber, got the water working and got hot water to the bathroom for us,” said TMC Hospice manager, Kelly Oursler, RN. “This morning, early, he picked flowers on the campus and put them in a vase in the bathroom. He came back when she asked for more time and added more hot water to the tub.”

Derrell Blair and Jim Wellman from Plant Services coordinated getting the bathroom cleaned and in working order. Housekeeper Maria Parra de Ruiz made sure the bathtub sparkled, added flowers to the bouquet and laid out a lace tablecloth. Transporters Tyrell Hinzman and Dean Sandvold provided a smooth ride to and from building as well as ensuring a safe and comfortable transfer into and out of the tub. Hospice staff found bubbles, battery-powered candles and a fluffy pink towel.

Swanson, formerly a nanny, was all smiles as she sunk into the tub, the jet action creating an overflow of bubbles … and emotions.

“This is just the best thing that could have happened,” said Swanson, who stayed in the tub for more than an hour.

Outside the room, staff laughed and shed tears, knowing how much this meant to their patient.

“We heard that she said she’d rather have a bubble bath than see her dog,” said Nicole Ralston, RN.

Not to worry, though, she won’t have to make a choice. Peppi’s House welcomes four-legged visitors. According to her mother, Rose, Swanson’s dog and cat will be spending time with Tonya.

Looks like Peppi’s House has it all over the 4-H exhibits at the fair, too.


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