Teens honors roots and community with traditional dance and generous donation

The gift of dance became a gift to the Tucson community recently when a local teen selflessly donated proceeds from a time-honored, traditional Indian dance to benefit breast cancer care at TMC.

University High School student, Naina Bhamidipati, honored her passion for her community and her Eastern Indian heritage by raising $5,000 for the TMC Foundation to support breast cancer prevention, treatment and care for women in need.

“I chose to donate to the Women’s Cancer fund at TMC in honor of the people close to me who have been effected by breast cancer,” Naina said.

Since age 5, Naina has been studying and practicing the classical Indian dance known as Bharatanatyam under the tutelage of Guru Kalashri Asha Gopal.

The origins of Bharatanatyam can be traced back to centuries ago in ancient India as a celebration and representation of spiritual ideas and Hindu religious themes.

Bharatanatyam is recognized the world over for its unique style, featuring complex footwork, flexed knees and bent legs while maintaining a straight torso. The hands move gracefully, making sophisticated and meaningful gestures, and all are performed to traditional music.

“The significance of Bharatanatyam to me is an art form that has taught me how to live my life. It taught me to be focused, balanced, and how to always be in control of my life. I learned how to express myself effectively without saying a word,” said Naina. “But most of all, it taught me to accept myself, be proud of myself, and accept the people around me. It has been and always will be an integral part of my life.”

When the instructor, called “guru”, determines the student has mastered the Bharatanatyam, a special ceremony called Arangetram is held to honor the student’s accomplishment.

“I also wanted to raise awareness for such a widespread disease and help families that were going through a difficult time – it was the best present on my Arangetram day,” Naina said.

With 10 years of intense study behind her, Naina has performed in many dance conventions, productions and gatherings, including the North American Telugu Association’s annual convention in Los Angeles.

She also has a deep appreciation for knowledge and community advocacy. Naina volunteers as a teen attorney with the Pima County Teen Court, and serves on the Dusenberry-River Library Teen Advisory Board. She is also a proud member of the leadership council at Be Free Pima – Pima County Community Prevention Coalition, a substance abuse prevention program.

“Helping my society and constantly exploring how I can make life better for people around me is one of my passions, and community advocacy is the first step to being able to do that,” Naina said. “No matter what cause I advocate for, in the end, I always leave with a new community and a new group of people that I will always support and that will always support me. For me, that’s the thrill of it, and I can’t wait to take part in many future endeavors involving community advocacy.”

Tucson Medical Center is pleased to recognize the accomplishments and generosity of this young woman.

“We are simply overcome by Naina Bhamidipati’s thoughtful gift,” said Erika Grasse, director of development for pediatrics. “The resources will provide mammograms for women (over 40) as well as fund breast cancer treatment and care for women who need it most.”

Thank you, Naina Bhamidipati and congratulations on your Arangetram!

For more information about supporting breast cancer patients, please contact the TMC Foundation at (520) 324-3497.

When should I tell my child about an upcoming surgery?

When should I tell my child about an upcoming surgery. When your child has an upcoming surgery or procedure, telling your child when they arrive at the hospital is generally a bad idea. So when to tell your child? Can it be too soon, too late? Amy Fregonese, child life specialist at TMC for Children, weighs in with some concrete advice on when and why to talk to your child about their surgery.

While talking about an upcoming surgery with your child may feel overwhelming, research has found that providing developmentally-appropriate preparation can help to decrease stress and anxiety before, during and after the experience.

When to tell your child:

Toddlers (1-3 years old)
Tell your child a day or two before. Toddlers are not able to understand the concept of time and may begin to worry if told too soon. It is normal for toddlers to become fussy and have behavioral changes before and after a procedure.

Preschoolers (3-5 years old)
Tell your child 3-5 days before the scheduled surgery. Too much time will allow fears and misconceptions to develop. Your child will be curious and will want to know what to expect.

Elementary school age (6-12 years old) 
Tell your child a week or two in advance. This will allow time to process the information and to develop and ask questions without allowing too much time for fears to develop. Your child needs details before, during and after the procedure.

Adolescents (12-18 years old)
Involve your teen in all aspects of planning for the surgery, including talks with the doctor. Allow teens to discuss and talk freely about their concerns. Allow them to maintain their independence and sense of control. Be supportive and honest.

What should I tell my child:

How much and when to tell your child will depend on age and developmental stage, personality, past health care experiences, and understanding of the illness or condition that is being treated.

You know your child best. Use your knowledge, along with the information you have gathered, to talk openly and honestly with your child. Focus on what your child will experience before and after the surgery. An expected stressor is less stressful than an unexpected stressor. Remember to ask your child what questions he or she has about surgery.

Finally, remember you child, no matter the age relies on cues from you. If you appear calm and confident, your child will be more relaxed.

A tour of the surgery area can help you and your child feel more comfortable and gain a better understanding of how things will proceed.

Amy Fregonese
Child Life Specialist

Surgery Tours

Our child life specialists can help your child understand surgery and what to expect. Pre-surgery and pre-admission tours are available. Most tours are geared for children ages 3 and up, but all ages and siblings are welcome. You can call (520) 324-1154 to set up a tour time that is best for your family.

Amy FregoneseAmy Fregonese, Child Life Specialist, specializes in supporting families as they prepare for and recover from surgery. Amy has been helping children and families at Tucson Medical Center for five years.





No more blood pressure pills, less pain after weight loss surgery

KelleeKellee Smith didn’t have a history of struggling with weight. She still has the size 2 gown she wore in a Miss Maryland pageant when she was 110 pounds.

But the weight started creeping on after a drunk driver in a large pickup truck slammed into her small car five years ago, shattering her shoulder, detaching her knee cap, severing the tendons in her leg and leaving her with a traumatic brain injury. It took two surgeries and about 18 months of rehabilitative therapy to start rebuilding her life.

She gained weight, in part from the reduced activity, in part as a side effect from the medications she was taking and in part as a result of turning to food as a comfort from the pain and physical limitations.

When her blood pressure medication would no longer control her blood pressure, though, she knew she had to make a change.

“I just wanted to be healthier. I didn’t want to worry about having a cardiac event or having to take more and more medication,” said Smith, a 45-year-old teacher.

Smith had gastric sleeve surgery in summer 2017.

One of the important tools for Smith was a food journal. Surprised to see how much soda she had been drinking, she switched to flavored seltzer water and eventually just switched to water.

Other changes: She adds a low-carb protein shake to iced coffee, giving her the creaminess of a frappucino without the extra sugar and calories. She turns sandwiches into lettuce wraps to eliminate the bread. She’s made spaghetti out of zucchini strings.

“I’m just a lot more conscious about labels and what I’m eating now,” she said. “I can still have the treats that I want, but I just look for ways to make them a healthier alternative.”

Smith said her surgeon told her not to be surprised if it was hard to make some of the transitions in the beginning, and at one point might wonder why she had decided to do it in the first place.

“I have not once asked why I did this,” Smith said. “I had tried diets and even diet medications. I had gone to gyms. I even had a personal trainer. Nothing was helping me lose the weight and I had really just resigned myself that this was how life was going to be for the rest of my life.”

Instead, six months in, Smith has lost 55 pounds in a safe, steady way. Initially at a size 18/20 pants, she bought herself a pair of size 12 jeans over the Christmas holidays. She’s doing strengthening classes at the gym. Between that conditioning and carrying less weight, she’s experiencing less pain and her balance is steadier than it had been in years.

Importantly, in October, she stopped taking blood pressure medication altogether because she no longer has hypertension.

And she’s strongly considering entering a pageant in fall 2018 to share her accomplishments.

“Weight loss surgery isn’t an easy way out or a cure all, but it is a tool,” Smith said. “Every day, it’s a new commitment. Every day, I choose if I’m going to live an active life and make healthy choices.”

March 17 Be Safe Saturday goes green; last chance to catch Choo-Choo Soul gives final appearance

In honor of St. Patrick’s Day, the 14th Be Safe Saturday goes shamrock green, March 17, 9 a.m. – 2 p.m., on the TMC campus, parking lot #11.

This free safety fair, which draws more than 13,000 people, helps parents and guardians create the safest environment for their children. Families get free bike helmets and booster seats, and can visit roughly 100 interactive booths that provide education and resources to help improve safety. Safe Kids Pima County and the Tucson Police Department will offer car seat checks from 9 a.m. to noon to make sure they are properly installed.

With the event falling on St. Patrick’s Day, everywhere you look you’ll see shamrocks and lots of happy, smiling faces. If you haven’t seen Disney’s Choo Choo Soul now’s the time as 2018 marks Genevieve’s final TMC appearance. And don’t forget to stop by the Exit Booth and enter in the drawings for a bike or scooter.

“TMC continues to keep children and families safe throughout Southern Arizona. We began our promise to keep kids safe more than 30 years ago,” said Hope Thomas, director of community programs at TMC. “Whether you need a bike helmet, a booster seat, toddler car seat or swim lessons, TMC has always been here to provide education and life-saving products. As Tucson’s community hospital we fulfill our mission daily by providing exceptional health care with compassion.”

In new book, TMC Hospice physician explores the human journey of navigating life’s losses

For those who’ve had therapy to deal with loss, Dr. Larry Lincoln’s new book “Reclaiming Banished Voices: Stories on the Road to Compassion” will resonate about what it means to suffer loss and how to successfully navigate through it.

For those considering therapy or trying to resolve their own grief, Dr. Lincoln’s book offers insight into the power of coming to terms with our losses – even those we might not fully recall or realize their impact. Dr. Lincoln’s writing is accessible to the lay person, yet grounded in his decades of clinical experience as a physician as well as his time spent training and traveling with death and grief pioneer Elisabeth Kübler-Ross.

Dr. Lincoln, the medical director of TMC Hospice for more than 25 years, also has had a successful clinical infectious disease practice. A graduate of Amherst College, Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons, he and his wife, Anne, offered their Growth and Transition Workshop program for 31 years, after initially training under Kübler-Ross. The couple has two children and three grandchildren.

All of these roles — physician, workshop leader, Kübler-Ross devotee, husband, father, grandfather — come into play in this book. Part memoir, part self-help, Reclaiming Banished Voices explores what happens when one is denied his “birthright,” as Dr. Lincoln explains, “to use the tools we are born with to process life’s inevitable losses.”

Unexpressed grief has a way of getting out. People who’ve experienced major losses especially as children, such as the death of a parent or living through abuse or neglect, are at higher risk for depression, addiction, failed relationships and other negative consequences from early pain – what many would see as manifestations of unresolved grief. But Dr. Lincoln shows that any loss, if not adequately grieved, can still impact a person long after the loss has faded.

In the book, Dr. Lincoln examines his own life, and how, although he found himself living his dream — a successful medical practice, married to the woman of his dreams and father to two beautiful children — he was facing burnout, while beginning to dread and resent his unpredictable workload. He would shut down to the people who loved him and waste precious emotional energy maintaining the mask of calm competency.

He shares his own story, in part, so people can trust him and the process he uses. “It’s not just an intellectual read, but shows how one processes grief,” he said. “I tried to speak to multiple levels, including our unconscious.”

Writing the book wasn’t easy. He had written about half and then tossed it out. “It was too academic. It was not me,” he said. He started over – a few times – before he finally found the voice he wanted. And it’s a very personal voice – one that doesn’t shy away from showing his own shortcomings and struggles. It took him about four years to write the book, he said, including an entire year when he had writer’s block and didn’t write a thing.

For each chapter, he’d have to go through five or six re-writes of the first five or six pages before being able to proceed. “Once I learned that that’s how it was going to be, I was OK with it,” he said, adding that he settled on a format where each chapter could tell its own story as well as add to the coherent message of compassion.

For his own story of transformation, his first breakthrough came in 1984 when he attended a five-day residential program with Kübler-Ross, the Swiss psychiatrist whose 1969 book “On Death and Dying” was foundational in creating the modern hospice movement. It was there that Dr. Lincoln discovered how a long-forgotten incident when he was 5 years old had instilled in him a drive to succeed to such an extent that it was consuming his life.

“I began to recognize how what seemed to be an unrelated and barely remembered childhood event was impacting my life as a physician, partner and father.”

Dr. Lincoln eventually went on to train and work with Kübler-Ross, traveling internationally and conducting “Life, Death, and Transition” workshops, where participants would externalize buried grief in an effort towards better self-awareness, forgiveness and healing.

Dr. Lincoln explains in the book how, as humans, we have the “the gift of grief” and how when that gift is taken away, it impacts our ability to confidently navigate the world:

When we grieve, all our emotions come into play. We shake our fist at the universe, rend our clothes in mourning, agonize over fears of future pain, and ultimately face the existential decision to live again. As our compassion for ourselves deepens, we praise our Maker for the exquisite bittersweet wonder that is life. And we dare to open our hearts once again, each time with more wisdom and abandon.

But as children, we give up our birthright rather than risk injury (physical or emotional) or exile. Survival trumps free expression. The price of unexpressed natural emotions is our reactivity and the accumulation of resentments, fear, envy and self-doubt.

Unable to express his fear and anger, a young Larry Lincoln resolved to be stronger, faster, better so that no neighborhood kid would ever hurt him again. Once Dr. Lincoln connected with younger versions of himself, he was better able to attend to his needs and become the man he wants to be.

Dr. Lincoln doesn’t just rely on his own story, though, to share the transformative power of grief work. He is able to draw on decades of experience from his medical practice, including his work with the dying, his work with Kübler-Ross, the workshops he and his wife ran, and the stories of his own family to show the human need to express grief and the gifts that result.

A daily, inner dialog with his younger selves is his way to better understand himself. “It’s a form of meditative inquiry, a form of mindfulness,” he said, adding that there are other ways to get to the same information. Meditation, writing and art are some techniques others use to tap into one’s subconscious needs and desires.

“I continue to learn that emotional and spiritual care is a lifelong commitment. If I don’t tend my garden, the weeds choke out the vegetables,” he said. When he ignores his emotional and spiritual needs, frustration, resentment, irritability and reactivity creep back in.

This grief work is not about assessing blame. He readily admits his parents might have done some things wrong. “But they fiercely loved me and were doing their best”, he said, adding that he can understand and forgive his parents, as well as have compassion – and ask forgiveness – for his own parental shortcomings. “I want people to have compassion for themselves, but also take responsibility for their actions.”

In his book that has been a lifetime in the making, Dr. Lincoln offers us a roadmap from the hard work of grief to a place of understanding and compassion.

“When we listen with our hearts, magic happens.”

Tucson Medical Center director honored with HIMSS Book of the Year award

As a proud supporter of the Tucson Festival of Books, Tucson Medical Center is celebrating one of its very own literary talents!

Focused on leadership and management in health care and health information technology, Leading Healthcare IT: Managing to Succeed, by Susan Snedaker, MBA, CISM, CPHIMS, CHCIO, this week received the 2018 HIMSS Book of the Year Award.

The book presents a practical guide for developing passionate, engaged and competent leaders to meet the demands of today’s health care IT environment.

Snedaker is an accomplished IT executive and author. She is the director of Infrastructure and Operations and information security officer for Tucson Medical Center, where she oversees IT infrastructure and clinical engineering. Snedaker’s team developed and deployed innovative technology solutions to meet the evolving needs of the organization. Her approach to cross-team collaboration, clinical engagement and technical innovation has created an IT environment that delivers exceptional results. TMC is a HIMSS Analytics Stage 7 hospital and has ranked as a Most Wired hospital every year since 2012.

“I’m extremely pleased to receive the HIMSS Book of the Year Award,” Snedaker said. “This book represents an amalgamation of what I’ve learned through both education and experience, as well as what I’ve gleaned from working with peers, colleagues and mentors.

“I wanted to create an approachable, user-friendly book – with clear, concise and actionable information – that could accelerate leadership development specifically for healthcare IT. To have this book selected as HIMSS Book of the Year is a great honor.”

Gus Venditto, vice president, content development, HIMSS Media said, “Susan Snedaker’s ‘Leading Healthcare IT: Managing to Succeed’ provides a concise roadmap for professionals who manage, direct or oversee healthcare information and technology. Her insights provide a valuable perspective for readers, and we congratulate her for this significant milestone as an author.”

TMC and Mayo Clinic collaborate to promote survivorship at Survive Well: Living with Cancer Symposium


For the second year in a row, Tucson Medical Center, in collaboration with Mayo Clinic, is pleased to offer the Survive Well: Living with Cancer Symposium, designed to help patients find more about the diagnosis and treatment of cancer, as well as shared issues facing patients, caregivers and family members.

The broad-based symposium, with a focus this year on celebrating survivorship, will include discussions designed to help participants deal with the stress of these diseases and move forward in a positive direction.

The free event, which Mayo Clinic has successfully offered for nearly a decade in the Phoenix area, will take place on Saturday, April 7. Mindful walks will kick off the day at 7:30 a.m., with sessions beginning at 9 a.m. at the Westin La Paloma in Tucson, Arizona.

The keynote address will be delivered by Dr. Edith Eva Eger, a Holocaust survivor, who will share her perspective on embracing the possible. In addition to cancer-specific breakout sessions, TMC, Mayo Clinic and Arizona Oncology experts will also lead other topic discussions including intimacy after cancer, genomics, as well as exercise, diet and inflammation. Celestino Fernandez, a distinguished professor emeritus at the University of Arizona, will close with a session on finding happiness every day.

“Survive Well is a fitting venue to share advancing technologies, leading treatments, and support services,” says Aleksandar Sekulic, M.D., Mayo Clinic Dermatologist and Deputy Director of the Mayo Clinic Cancer Center in Arizona. “The symposium is a valued part of our collaborative efforts to provide meaningful information and support to patients with cancer and their families.”

As a member of the Mayo Clinical Care Network, TMC works with Mayo Clinic to better serve patients and their families by sharing education and best practices. “This symposium is a continued maturation of the relationship we’ve developed with Mayo Clinic, to ensure that our patients benefit from our collective knowledge,” said Dr. Robert Brooks, medical director of oncology at TMC.

For more information or to save your spot, please visit our website.

Mission Moments: Helping out with a four-legged family member


Pets are familiar sights at Tucson Medical Center: Our K9 units help keep the hospital safe and our pet therapy teams brighten spirits of patients and staff.

So when Wellness Director Mary Atkinson saw this fun little guy out stretching his legs with his owner along TMC’s walking path, she introduced herself to the pair.

It turns out the dog was waiting in the car for his dog mom to have a procedure done and his dog dad was trying to split his time between checking on his wife and checking on his four-legged family member. As recent arrivals to Tucson, he didn’t want to leave the pet unattended in an unfamiliar home.

Hearing about the predicament, Atkinson offered to keep the terrier mix in the Wellness Department through the day.

He was a perfect gentleman – and looked quite dapper in the Girls on the Run bandana he scored during his sojourn in the new digs.

MaryAtkinson (2)“We were happy to help, and his owner was very grateful that he could focus on his wife’s surgery and know that this other member of his family was safe,” Atkinson said. “It’s always important to us to practice kindness and to be cognizant of ways we can help other people – and especially during stressful times in their lives.”

Tucson Medical Center recently adopted a new mission statement. To celebrate, we are sharing a series of “mission moments” throughout the year.

What are mission moments? They aren’t necessarily dramatic stories of heroism, although our medical staff saves lives every day. These are moments that breathe life into words – moments that are profound or powerful or touching and that remind us why we do the work we do. Hundreds of these reminders happen every day. Thank you for letting us share some with you.



Bariatric support group helps patient stay on track with a healthy weight

MaryannMaryann Webb was once “fired” from a support group for not losing enough weight.

Never mind that she’d shed 100 pounds from her starting weight of 357 pounds after having gastric bypass surgery. It wasn’t fast enough or significant enough to meet the expectations of the other members of her group. So she quit.

She and a friend left another support group so depressed they went out and got a hot fudge sundae.

Then in January 2017 she found the support group at Tucson Medical Center for those who had weight-loss surgery.

The 74-year-old retired personnel trainer never misses one.

“It’s like getting a booster shot every month,” she said. She likes the positivity of the group and the non-judgmental environment.

Webb had a long struggle with weight. Part of it is genetics – a whole passel of her family is just a little shorter and a little heavier than average. And she comes from a long line of family members who comfort and nurture one another with food. If you went to grandma’s for Saturday supper, you knew you were going home with a dozen of her sugar cookies.

When she moved from the family farm and the physical demands associated with it, and took a desk job, she found herself gaining weight pretty quickly.

“I’d tried them all. The cabbage soup diet. The hormone shots. This was a long time ago, but I even tried that approach where they shock you when they show you a photo of food to try to make you repulsed by it. Nothing worked.”

It got worse when she was hit with a triple whammy: A divorce, a change in jobs and a newly empty nest after her daughter went away to college.

By the time she had surgery – this was back in 1999 – she was 55 and having trouble with her kidney function and she had diabetes. She took off 100 pounds pretty quickly and then years later lost more when she went through an unrelated medical condition.

The weight loss support group is offered monthly and provides an opportunity for patients who have had weight-loss surgery to connect with others who are in different stages of their weight-loss journey. Our mission is to provide a safe, supportive environment for patients to build relationships and get education focused on health and well-being for their lifelong journey.

Last year, she underwent surgery to fix a constriction and a hernia on the original bypass. When her surgeon asked her what she wanted from the surgery, she said she just wanted to eat lettuce again.

Unlike the larger incision from the first surgery, technology allowed a laparoscopic procedure this time around, with much less pain and a faster recovery. She stuck to her surgeon’s diet suggestions like gospel, sure it would help her heal faster. And sure enough, she’s eating lettuce again.

She’s also walking three days a week, doing aerobics three days a week and organizing monthly social events with a group of retired friends (including a tour of Tucson’s ethnic restaurants with strict orders to try something they’d never had before.)

“I feel better than I have in years,” Webb said. “It isn’t like the surgeon gets to wave a magic scalpel and suddenly the weight comes off like magic. It’s a tool. But it’s a tool that makes it easier. Plus, now I know myself better. I understand what I have to do to take care of myself. I know I never want to be that sick again. And I’ve learned over the years that it’s OK to be proud of yourself a little bit.”

And that’s also why her self-care toolbox includes the monthly support group held on the TMC campus for those who have had bariatric surgery at TMC.

Webb said she appreciates sharing her tips with others and learning from experiences others share – not to mention it’s often a tasty experience to boot.

A recent class had a series of taste tests for protein bars (she’s rather partial to Power Crunch salted caramel.) In another class, members shared their recipes for protein shakes and made samples. The class learned about vitamins and supplements in another.

“I can actually say that I’ve been to a lot of support groups over the years,” Webb said. “And this is really a support group.”

For more information about weight loss surgery at TMC attend a FREE weight loss surgery seminar.

Gun Safety – Steps you can take today to protect your children

As I grieve for the families of the victims and survivors of the school shootings that continue to threaten our children’s safety, my thoughts turn to my own little boys. How can I help keep them and their classmates safe? Is there anything we can do? I don’t have the answers to these big questions, but it does make me think about things I can do in my own community to keep our children safer.

As a mom and as a pediatric emergency room nurse I know that it isn’t just school settings that we need to address when it comes to gun awareness and safety. Along with handguns and rifles, we also need to apply safety concerns to pellet and BB guns, and we need to start taking action.

We talked with Jessica Mitchell, Safe Kids Pima County coordinator, who shared the following about what parents can do to help prevent gun incidents with children:

“Did you know about two-thirds of students who used guns in violent acts at school got those guns from their home or at a relative’s house?

The first thing you can do is make sure that if you keep a gun in your home, it is kept unloaded and locked away. Make sure that the ammunition is stored separately from the gun in a locked container and make sure the keys are hidden away, too. If the gun is not in its lock box make sure it’s in your line of sight.

You can pick up gun locks at TMC Family Support Services located next to the Desert Cradle.”

The other thing we must do is talk to the adults in homes where our children spend time ‑ whether it’s with the grandparents, aunts and uncles, family friends or a play date – about the status of guns in the home. Don’t make assumptions about whether someone has a gun, or whether it is unloaded and locked away. Don’t assume the children in the house don’t know when the guns are kept – ask.

I know it feels uncomfortable, but what’s worse ‑ a few seconds of discomfort or the unthinkable?

How to ask the parent or guardian of your child’s play date whether there is a gun risk in their house

This would be so much easier if it was commonplace to ask on a first play date, so let’s make it commonplace. Be brave. Ask.

Offer information on the gun status at your house when children come to visit:

“Hey, we’re so excited for Lily to visit. I just want to check that she doesn’t have any food allergies and to assure you that while we have guns in our house they are not loaded and are in a locked gun safe that the kids can’t access. I know that it can be a concern especially given how curious kids are”

Prior to the first play date or if there is a new adult in the home, ask:
“Lucas is looking forward to hanging out with Omar after school today. It feels a little uncomfortable to ask this, but do you have unlocked guns in your house? Kids can be so curious even when we warn them about not messing around with guns.” If there are guns in the house, ask if they are stored unloaded and locked away where kids have no access. Remember to ask if a new adult joins the family or is staying. Whether it is grandpa visiting for an extended time or mom or dad has a new partner.

Uncomfortable asking in person or over the phone? Text 
Sandwich the question in between the usual questions, “Hi Tom, this is Melissa, Jack’s mom. Jack’s really looking forward to coming over after school today. What time should I pick him up? Also, weird question I know, but I’m trying to get in the practice of asking this given recent events. Do you have guns in your house? Just want to check that they’re unloaded and locked away from the ammunition. Thx”

Blame your pediatrician
Or at least deflect the origin of the query to your pediatrician. Our pediatrician asks us at every annual check-up whether there are guns in the house and if they are unloaded and locked away. Say something like, “Our pediatrician suggested that we ask about guns, even BB guns, just to check that they’re unloaded and locked away.”

Don’t assume that girls aren’t curious about guns 

Don’t stop asking once your child is old enough to walk home alone or whether you will be at the house or not
Gun accidents happen whether the child is 4 or 13. Children can be impetuous when little and even more so when teens.

Undoubtedly, there is much more to be done, but this…this we can do today.


Melissa HodgesMelissa Hodges is a pediatric emergency room RN and mom to two young boys. Melissa has been at Tucson Medical Center for ten years. She is a knitting ninja apprentice, who makes a mean chili and enjoys spending time with her family and friends in beautiful Tucson, Arizona.

TMC Healing Art Program Photography Exhibit

Steve Dell Sunrise at Mesa Arch

Steve Dell “Sunrise at Mesa Arch” 2010

More than 900 works of art have been donated and installed at Tucson Medical Center as part of the Healing Art Program. Why? Because artwork can make us feel better and speed recovery – and that’s more than a pleasant notion, it’s an evidence-based best practice.

“The donated paintings, drawings and photographs really go a long way in promoting healing and enhancing the patient experience,” said Lauren Rabb, curator of the TMC Healing Art Program.

On March 8 you can view a hand-picked selection of the first exhibit of TMC art outside the hospital at the Temple of Music and Art.


“The TMC Healing Art Program helps patients heal in surroundings that inspire, encourage and cheer,” said Michael Duran, TMC vice president and chief development officer. “Events like the photography exhibit help us populate the hallways, numerous courtyards and many public spaces throughout the TMC campus with life-enhancing art.”

Bill Steen   “Monsoon Intersection, the Malpais, NM”   2007

Bill Steen “Monsoon Intersection, the Malpais, NM” 2007

The event features the images of renowned national and local photographers, such as Gregory Cranwell, Steve Dell, B.G. Boyd, Marla Endicott, Larry Hanelin and Niccole Celeste Radhe.

The exhibit also includes the photos of professional photographer Pamela Gresham Knight, who is traveling from Texas to attend the opening in-person.

“I am astonished by the incredible artwork the TMC Healing Art Program has received,” said Knight. “These photos and paintings are what you might normally see in a museum or gallery.” Knight also explained she strongly supports the cause. “I’m honored and humbled to have my photographs be part of providing relief and comfort for patients who are healing.”

Enjoy the rare opportunity to view the artwork at the treasured Temple of Music and Art. The Arizona Theatre Company bar will be open.

TMC Healing Art Photography Exhibit

March 8, 5 – 8 p.m.

Temple of Music and Art Gallery, 330 S. Scott Ave.

FREE to attend (no RSVP needed)

Photographs, 16 x 20 inches or 10 x 20 inches, are available for purchase through May 12. Proceeds support the TMC Healing Art Program

TMC’s Healing Art Program accepts donations of gallery-quality paintings, graphics, photography and sculpture. “You will be truly amazed by the quality of the images presented at the fundraiser,” said Rabb.

To donate artwork, take a TMC artwork tour or for more information visit http://www.tmcaz.com/healing-art-program or call (520) 324-3116.









Patient support at TMC Bariatric Center

Bariatric SurgeryRegardless of a person’s background, lifestyle or motivation – weight-loss is challenging. What approach works for one person might not work for another. Patients who choose weight loss surgery have the best outcomes with access to the right information and support. Fulfilling that crucial need is Rachel Deal, the TMC metabolic and bariatric coordinator.

“The TMC Bariatric Center is nationally accredited as a comprehensive center,” said Deal. “We provide education and assistance at every stage, from a patient’s first questions through years after a procedure – a patient is never in this alone.”

Getting started

Patients considering weight-loss procedures have questions about their unique factors and options. With a dizzying amount of information available on the web, it can be difficult to know where to start.

“With a quick phone call or email, we can get you started with information or a consultation with a bariatric specialist,” said Deal. “TMC also offers a monthly seminar on the second Tuesday of every month – It’s a great way to learn more about weight loss surgery in a comfortable and informal setting.”

 Personalized program

Weight loss procedures are often thought of as one particular surgery. In fact, there are many options available to meet the unique health factors, experiences and goals of each patient.

“Bariatric procedures are not a one-size fits all – everything in the program is personalized,” explained Deal. “We work as a team and take the time to make sure each patient has received all the information about their options and health, so they can make the most informed decision.”

Deal said this careful, custom and vital process can take months, but has an important side-effect that supports a successful outcome. “Patients say they feel empowered – the information gives them the control and authority to make an active decision about their health.”

Confident and prepared

Preparing for a medical procedure is not a common experience, and patients can rely on Ms. Deal to provide the support and help to feel confident and prepared.

“We help educate for pre-op and post-op, so patients understand the dos and don’ts and know what to expect,” says Deal. “In addition, we facilitate resources for aftercare, and make exercise, diet and action plans for the first year after surgery.

More than medicine

The TMC Bariatric Center was designed to be a comprehensive program, assisting patients with all aspects that affect weight loss.

“There are many factors that contribute to successful weight loss,” Deal said. “That’s why the TMC program also provides a dietitian, exercise physiologist and psychologist.”

Weight-loss surgery patients also have the opportunity to participate in a monthly support group, and discuss triumphs and challenges with individuals who are having like-experiences.

“We also have insurance specialists available to assist with information about coverage and payment options – we want to leave no stone unturned.”


Deal says the TMC Bariatric Center has combined medical, clinical and professional support with one focus. “Patient success is our goal – we hope to be each patient’s partner here after.”

If new weight loss challenges arise after surgery, Deal explained her role is to help keep patients motivated, determine new plans and provide needed information or referral resources. “Our patient partnerships are meant to last a lifetime – not just for the first or second year after surgery.”

Deal also explained why patient success is so important to her. “It’s amazing to see the bliss and happiness when patients reach their goals – and not all successes involve the scale.”

Success can mean being healthy enough to walk up the stairs unassisted, or being fit enough to comfortable take family on a trip to Disneyland.

“Mostly, I hear patients say they never could have imagined life being this good.

Rachel Deal has a degree in dietetics and nutrition. She has a passion for patient care and has worked in bariatric medicine for several years. When time allows, Ms. Deal enjoys sampling healthy dishes at Tucson’s diverse restaurants and traveling with her husband and young son.

For more information about Tucson Medical Center’s Bariatric Center of Excellence and to sign up for a FREE seminar see our website or call (520) 900-1842 today.




Cold home remedies – What should you try?

Home cold remediesYou’ve got a runny nose, you’re congested, your head aches, your throat throbs and you just feel wiped out. It might ‘just’ be a cold, but that isn’t helping you get through the day. Colds are viral infections so antibiotics are no help (and may even be harmful). What should you do? What about all those natural remedies on the internet? Do they have any merit?

We asked TMCOne nurse practitioner Natalie Olendorf for her feedback on some of the more common home-remedy suggestions:

Zinc lozenges or nasal spray

Some studies show starting zinc lozenges or syrup in the first 24 hours of cold symptoms can shorten the length of the cold, but don’t use them for longer than 3 days as they can cause nausea when taken for longer. Some people have lost their sense of smell permanently from use of the zinc nasal spray, so it isn’t recommended.

Nasal irrigation and neti pots

Neti pots have reached the mainstream – they and nasal saline sprays may help relieve symptoms such as pressure and drainage as well as shorten the life of the cold by flushing out mucus and viruses. It’s important to make sure that you use sterilized or distilled water.

Hot ginger and lemon tea

Yum! This combination is soothing and can help reduce inflammation in the throat. Go ahead and try it. It won’t cure your cold, but it might bring some relief.


Echinacea can be helpful to relieve symptoms, but no strong evidence exists to show that it makes an impact on the length of the cold.

Vitamin C

Who hasn’t been tempted to dose up with vitamin C after being exposed to a snotty kid? High doses of vitamin C are thought to help support the immune system, but only take these for FEWER THAN FIVE DAYS. High doses of any vitamin can be dangerous and too much vitamin C may cause kidney stones. Also, it won’t prevent the cold, but the illness may last fewer days if your immune system is more robust. Most people get enough vitamin C from a good diet.

Essential oils, aromatherapy

There are very limited studies on the use of essential oils. And while some may help improve congestion and drainage, it is important not to use them topically or to ingest them.

Steam vapor

Steam vapor helps to decrease congestion and open up the sinuses, which can provide relief from that headache.


Elderberry, extract Sambucol, may help decrease the sore throat, headache and fatigue of a cold. Talk to your physician about using elderberry extract as it may interact or impact other medications you are taking.

This information is meant as a guide, but should not be used in place of medical advice from your health care provider.

If you’re in need of a same day appointment check out TMCOne

Natalie Olendorf F.N.P. and familyAbout Natalie Olendorf, F.N.P.

I am a board certified Family Nurse Practitioner. I have worked in family medicine and urgent care for the last 8 years. Prior to joining TMCOne I worked as a nurse in a Children’s Hospital in Chicago on a solid organ transplant unit and as an emergency room nurse in a Level 1 trauma center.

I attended University of Illinois Champaign/Urbana where I received by Bachelor’s in Nursing in 2003 and then attended University of Illinois Chicago where I received my Master’s in Nursing in 2009. Currently, I am working same-day care and the Fast Pass program at the TMCOne Wyatt location.

I am married and have a young son and daughter. I enjoy being active and outdoors with my family in my free time.



Small changes add up to 50 pound weight loss for Lindy

LindyWhen 36-year-old occupational therapist Lindy Schoch decided to do a weight management campaign a year ago, she was feeling kind of blah.

Her energy was down. She was carrying too much weight. And even though she was working out five days a week, her scale wouldn’t budge.

Schoch consulted with a member of the wellness team and registered dietitian Laurie Ledford to come up with a solution.

“I thought I was eating healthy – and I was – but you can eat too much even if it is healthy,” she said. “Decreasing portion control was a big key for me. The important thing is to take small steps instead of trying to do everything at once. You don’t want to feel overwhelmed.”

Over the course of the year, without making drastic changes, Schoch lost 50 pounds, with a goal of another 30 by her spring 2019 wedding.

Here’s what helped:

  • Breakfast: She swapped out her breakfast Greek yogurt for one that has half the sugars and all the protein. She supplements her breakfast with two hard boiled eggs.
  • Lunch: She stopped putting cheese and ranch dressing on her six-inch submarine sandwiches – stuffing them with flavorful vegetables, pickles and pepperoncinis instead – and switched to flatbread instead of sub rolls. Over time, she switched to salads with chicken and avocado, forgoing the sandwich altogether.
  • Snacks: Ledford told her she should eat something in between meals so she wasn’t ravenous for her big meals, since that makes it harder to control portions. She takes an apple or banana for a quick snack in between meals.
  • Drinks: Sodas are rare for her. She usually opts for unsweetened tea. She did have to completely give up coffee. “I actually hate coffee, but I love creamer. I had to give up coffee because I couldn’t have it without half a cup of creamer in it. That helped cut out a bunch of fat and sugar calories.”
  • Sugar: She’s the first to admit she’s a cookie fiend. And she likes chocolate. And while she’s pretty disciplined about steering clear of office goodies, she has learned one important lesson: “If I really want a piece of chocolate, I will have it. When you crave it, have one of that item and have it right away when you first feel like having it. I’ve made the mistake of trying to resist and then later, eating too much of something because I’ve been wanting it all day.”
  • Be patient with yourself. “Six weeks into my 12 week program, I had done all this and I hadn’t lost one pound. Not one. This is where people get discouraged, because they make changes for a certain time and they give up, but your body needs time to adjust to the changes you’re making. By the twelfth week, I had lost 11 pounds and then it just poured off, six pounds every other week.”
  • Let technology help. There are a lot of fitness apps on the market, but Schoch particularly likes My Fitness Pal, a free app that logs her caloric intake and activity levels and helps her stay on track for her long-term weight goal.

“I don’t deprive myself and I’ve found that what I’m doing now is sustainable,” she said. “I feel lighter now. I can run and it’s less taxing. I have more energy and I feel good about the direction I’m heading.”

TMC Wellness offers one-on-one appointments and small group counseling with a registered dietitian or exercise physiologist. 

Pregnancy and the flu vaccine – Protection for you and your baby

Why you should get the flu shot if you're pregnant

Photo by Alex Pasarelu

“Babies can’t be given the flu vaccine until they are six months old, so the vaccine that you receive is for both of you,” explained Erin Sperry Schlueter, M.D. F.A.C.O.G., department chair of TMC OB/GYN.

With pregnant women on the short list of people with an increased risk of developing flu complications, understanding the facts about the flu vaccine is a top priority. According to the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecologists (ACOG), pregnant women can get the flu vaccination at any time in their pregnancy, but it is best to get one early in the flu season, October through May.

The vaccine can be given in two ways, a shot or a nasal mist. The mist is not recommended for pregnant women, although it’s safe for women who have just given birth and are breastfeeding.

Protecting yourself from the flu is only half of the benefit; the other half is the protection it gives your baby. The vaccine decreases your risk of getting the flu while you’re pregnant and then keeps your baby protected for the first six months of life. If you do happen to catch the flu after getting the flu shot, it is usually a much more mild sickness.

“The flu shot is critically important for pregnant women because they are at a much higher risk of life-threatening complications from the flu. We also recommend that all immediate caregivers such as partners and grandparents get themselves protected with a flu shot to provide a ‘cocoon’ of immunity around the new baby”, said Dr. Sperry Schlueter.

Don’t get caught by the flu, get your vaccination early. Mild side effects like a sore arm and a low fever for a few days are a minor annoyance when compared to the flu virus.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has information on their website about the vaccination and pregnancy. https://www.cdc.gov/flu/protect/vaccine/qa_vacpregnant.htm.

If you haven’t already had your flu vaccine, get vaccinated. Even if it is late in the flu season the vaccine can still be beneficial. You can schedule an appointment to get the flu vaccine at the TMCOne Wyatt office by calling (520) 394-6619. A brief registration keeps you on schedule, the central location makes it easy and the friendly professionals provide the quality care your family expects from TMCOne. The flu shot is covered by insurance and only $25 for out of network plans.


An Emergency Room Visit: A Patient’s View

Emergency DepartmentNothing is more frustrating that sitting in the emergency room feeling terrible and watching someone who looks perfectly fine walk in and walk straight through to triage and be taken back. Right?

I recently got to be that person skipping the waiting room, moving straight past go to immediate help.

I felt fine, well except for the piercing headache behind my left ear that had been there for three days, but that hadn’t brought me into the emergency room. What brought me in was when one side of my face began to droop.

It was quite odd. At first it was just that my eyes didn’t look the same as usual. One seemed bigger than the other and then my face started to seem flat on one side.

Signs of a stroke

I recognized the drooping face as a possible symptom of a stroke and after I called my husband and dropped off the kids with some friends, I had a friend take me to the emergency room. Not my brightest moment. After all, if this was a stroke I was wasting precious brain time, but at least I didn’t drive myself! I couldn’t possibly be having a stroke – could I? After all my mum was 70 when she had her stroke. I was just 48 years old – a spring chicken. While I am definitely overweight, I didn’t have other risk factors.

I raced up to the front desk in the emergency room and began to explain my concerns. By this point my mouth was beginning to droop, too. The nurse took one look at me and whisked me back.

I’m sure to those left in the waiting room this seemed massively unfair. After all, there I was, able to walk, apparently in not significant distress, no bleeding or obvious trauma (they couldn’t see my face) and I was going to be seen before everyone else waiting.

Within a couple of minutes members of the rapid response stroke team were evaluating me for a stroke, bloodwork was being taken, and my situation was being evaluated. After the initial evaluation they were pretty sure I wasn’t having a stroke, but it wasn’t clear what was going on and something was definitely going on. Most of the possible scenarios and options were pretty awful. Center for Neurosciences nurse practitioner Frances West and neurologist Dr. David Teeple kept me calm and informed and made the decision to keep me at the hospital for observation.

The following day, after ruling out a possible reemergence of an earlier melanoma, the pieces began to fall into place. I had Bell’s palsy.

Bell’s Palsy

Bell’s palsy affects about 30,000 to 40,000 people every year in the United States. It results in the paralysis or weakness of one side of the face as a result of damage to the facial nerve. The cause of Bell’s palsy isn’t known, but generally the weakness or paralysis is thought to be due to swelling of the nerve in the area where it travels through the bones of the skull. For many, symptoms often begin to improve right away, but it may take weeks or even months for the muscles to get stronger. For some people symptoms may never completely disappear.

Six months out, my face is still lopsided. I can’t drink straight from a bottle, and talking at length can be tiring and embarrassing as I drool when my mouth tires. However, I can blink and smile. My facial paralysis isn’t quite as obvious as it was previously.

Bell’s palsy is not pleasant, but as my ability to parent, work, live and be an active member of my community is not impacted by my looks, I’ll take this slightly lopsided smile over the other possibilities like stroke or brain tumor.

I am grateful to know that if it had been a stroke, the TMC Rapid Response Stroke Team was ready to act, and the front desk staff prepared to recognize and move on a possible stroke case. And next time I’m in the waiting room of an emergency room … I’ll be a tad more patient as a new arrival is whisked back before me even if they don’t look sick.

While Tucson boasts a half-dozen stroke centers, TMC is the city’s only primary stroke center that has 24/7 coverage by board certified interventional neuroradiologists along with a neurology and neurosurgery stroke team.

Rachel Miller is a Communications Specialist at TMC.  She has decided since developing Bell’s palsy that everyday should be pirate day. (Individuals affected by Bell’s palsy are often unable to close or blink the eye on the affected side. A patch protects the eye from the everyday dust. Here Rachel takes advantage to play pirate.)

TMC nurse helped make wedding dream come true for one couple

Malloree Ingalls (2)It only takes a quick chat with TMC Cardiac Unit nurse Malloree Ingalls to understand why she was drawn to a career in nursing. Her upbeat smile and approachable attitude put her patients at ease during what is often the most stressful time in their lives.

One such patient was just days away from open heart surgery when his fiancée of 12 years told him that she would like to stop waiting and just get married, to her delight, he said yes. “She was worried about upsetting family and friends by not having a big thing. I told her, “Don’t worry about them, this is for you,” Ingalls recalled.

Cutting the cake at hospital wedding

When the couple asked cardiothoracic surgeon Kushagra Katariya, M.D., how many times he had performed this particular surgery, the patient’s fiancé recalled with a laugh, “He said five times … this week.”

With that reassurance and the surgery in a few short days, Ingalls and the team from the Cardiac Unit sprang into action. “She told me that she heard that you can get married in a hospital, so I started making some calls,” said Ingalls.

With two rings purchased at the TMC Gift Shop, calls were made to arrange for a cake, refreshments from Food and Nutrition Services, a notary and TMC Chaplain Mary Klaehn.

With that, a wedding came together.


The bride nominated Ingalls for a DAISY Award, an international program that rewards and celebrates the extraordinary clinical skill and compassionate care given by nurses every day. In her nomination, the bride said of Ingalls, “Words can never explain my utter love and gratitude towards her and her beautiful soul…Having her as our nurse was the best thing that happened to us, in our most troubling time.”

hospital wedding rings

Tucson Medical Center earlier this year adopted a new mission statement. To celebrate, we are sharing an ongoing series of “mission moments.”

What are mission moments? They aren’t necessarily dramatic stories of heroism, although our medical staff saves lives every day. These are moments that breathe life into words – moments that are profound or powerful or touching and that remind us why we do the work we do.

Hundreds of these reminders happen every day. Thank you for letting us share some with you.

Nominate an extraordinary nurse for the DAISY award

TMC closely following developments in Green Valley

2014-judy-rich-standing-preferred-pose To Our Community,

We have received several questions regarding the recently announced bankruptcy sale of Green Valley Hospital to a California-based equity firm. According to the public announcement, there was only one bid received for the struggling medical center and that bid was accepted for the acquisition of the hospital alone and did not include the associated medical office buildings, hospital equipment and other related assets.  The bidder was actually a lender who had loaned money for the time it was in bankruptcy.

TMC HealthCare has been following the Santa Cruz County hospital’s bankruptcy proceedings carefully, with an interest in supporting the surrounding communities. As a nonprofit community hospital, we continually seek opportunities which are consistent with and further our mission to provide exceptional healthcare with compassion. However, any new venture or investment must be financially viable. Since the Green Valley Hospital has a history of substantial financial losses, we needed to be mindful of how such an investment would impact our broader system. After a careful analysis of the opportunity in Green Valley, it did not make sense to participate in the current  bidding process for that hospital asset. We will continue to monitor the situation to see if an appropriate opportunity arises for our involvement with the hospital.

TMC has a long-standing relationship with the Green Valley residents, so please know that we will continue to explore how we can best and most appropriately serve that population.

If you have further questions, please call Julia Strange, vice president, Community Benefit, at 520-324-2017.


Judy Rich

Pregnant? Stop before you put that cheesy snack in your mouth

The 411 on cheese you can eat when pregnantFor those of us with a deep love of cheese including those fancy stinky foreign cheeses pregnancy can put a bit of a dampener on our cheese adoration.  Don’t worry, that slice of pizza is probably just fine, but the slice of apple with brie or the salad with Roquefort cheese is out. Confused as to whether you can chow down on mozzarella or inhale camembert? Read on.

What cheeses should I avoid during pregnancy?

Generally you can divide the cheeses you shouldn’t eat into two groups, those soft crumbly blue veined cheeses like Danish blue and gorgonzola and soft cheeses like brie and camembert.
  • Brie
  • Camembert
  • Chevre (a soft goats cheese that often comes in a log like form)
  • Danish blue
  • Gorgonzola
  • Roquefort
  • Queso fresco

But I have an undeniable craving for brie or a blue cheese salad! What should I do?

A baked brie and a pastry crust is a little bit of heaven and it’s a treat you can still enjoy when pregnant! Cooking to 165F should kill any bacteria and make it safe to eat. Can’t live without your gorgonzola sprinkles on your salad, you like cheese with some flavor after all? Try a hard stilton cheese instead.

Just why are some cheeses a no-no during pregnancy?

Soft cheeses tend to contain more listeria bacteria than those that might be present in hard cheeses. Listeria bacteria can cause an infection called listeriosis which pregnant women are at a great risk of getting due to hormonal changes- 13 times more likely. While it might cause merely mild flu-like symptoms in the woman or even no symptoms the impact on the fetus can be significant. If a pregnant woman develops listeriosis it can cause premature delivery, miscarriages and still births. Early treatment with antibiotics may prevent fetal infection. Listeria bacteria is present in other foods.  Alicia Arino, clinical dietitian at TMC, adds “Unpasteurized cheese and milk can also cause Brucellosis (a food borne illness caused by ingestion of raw milk, unpasteurized cheeses, or raw meat) which can have particularly harmful effects during pregnancy.

So what cheeses can I eat?

It’s safe to eat hard cheeses ex.  Gouda, gruyere, parmesan and cheddar and the following soft cheeses are safe as long as they’re made from pasteurized milk: ricotta, cream cheese, cottage cheese, mozzarella, feta and some goat cheeses.
Alicia Arino is a clinical dietitian, board certified lactation consultant and Assistant Manager of Clinical Nutrition at Tucson Medical Center.

Did you nix New Year’s resolutions this year?

What's your thing - nix the new year resolutionsA message from Laurie Ledford to all those folks looking to set a health challenge for themselves, but not taking the New Year resolutions path. 

Many people see the New Year as a chance for a fresh start, a time to make big changes in their lives. Some people will make resolutions, vowing to become better versions of themselves. Knowing that most New Year’s resolutions fail, and realizing lifestyle makeovers are difficult, other people won’t bother setting a goal for the year.

If you are the type of person who enjoys a challenge, and you can set a goal that is enjoyably difficult but not impossible, then go for it! Just be sure to make a plan – your roadmap – so you don’t get lost along the way. You can use the advice below to help you stick to your plan.

For you non-resolvers out there, let’s find an alternative way to improve yourself without all that stress. Instead of a resolution, just create “Your Thing.” (If you prefer, you can call it your mission, objective, intention, ideal or purpose.) Make it fairly specific, so that it gives you direction for making the right choices. Here are some examples.

  • You want to get eight hours of sleep every night. When the television tries to keep you watching past your ideal bedtime, you say, “Sorry TV, that’s not my thing.”
  • You want to reduce your sugar intake, and someone offers you a soda. You could tell them, “Thanks, but soda’s not my thing.”
  • You want to eat more vegetables. When a waiter asks, “Would you like fries with that?” You reply, “Actually, veggies are more my thing. I’ll have a side salad instead.”

“Your Thing” needs to be about something you want to change. It may not be what your doctor, your family, your friends or strangers online think you should change. The desire to change must resonate inside of you, and you must have a clear idea of why you want to change. That reason will help provide motivation to, for example, choose the after-dinner walk instead of the after-dinner ice cream.

“Your Thing” is not one big transformation; it is instead a continuous process and an ongoing learning opportunity. It isn’t a single decision; it is lots of choices, made moment by moment. In this approach, you break down the overall improvement into small steps, and you take one step at a time.If you have a slip-up along the way, you forgive yourself and move on. However, you can learn from each little slip-up. Ask yourself what you could do to help yourself make a different (better) decision next time.

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Often making the right decision comes down to choosing one behavior over another. For “Your Thing,” it means choosing to do what’s right, not what’s easy. It’s easy to fall into old habits. Therefore, you need to become aware of what you are doing day to day. Notice which behaviors or habits support “Your Thing” and which ones do not. Then get curious about what drives those behaviors. Here are some common triggers.

  • your location or surroundings
  • the time of day
  • other people
  • your emotional state
  • some other associated behavior

Now make a plan. Decide what you are going to do differently when the trigger activates your behavior. Ideally, it will be something that provides the same good feeling while still supporting “Your Thing.” Your plan may not be an instant success. You may have to try several different tactics to stick with “Your Thing” And you may find that what you thought was a trigger actually wasn’t. This is why changing habits is an ongoing process of learning. It takes time to figure out your behavior.

No matter how vigilant you are, there will be times when it is simply too much work to make the right choice. Sometimes you are so exhausted or stressed that you feel unable to resist the old habit, and so you give in. Guess what? It’s OK. Nobody’s perfect, so forgive yourself, move on, and vow to do better next time.

Laurie Ledford RDLaurie Ledford is a registered dietitian from Atlanta, Georgia, the land of grits, collard greens and super-sweet iced tea. She now works as a registered dietitian  in the Tucson Medical Center Wellness Department. She enjoys helping people improve their health through sustainable dietary changes while still relishing occasional indulgences. In her off hours, Laurie engages in foodie pursuits such as sampling unusual flavor combinations (olive oil and basil ice cream was a good one) as well as hiking and cycling.

Safety practices for exercising in the dark

Safety tips for exercising in the darkWhether you’re taking the dog out for a walk or just getting out for a run yourself it can be hard this time of year to get outside when it’s light out. If you don’t have time during daylight hours to get out, stretch your limbs and fill your lungs, make sure you follow these safety practices when exercising in the dark:

  • Plan your route and tell someone where you are going and when you should be back. Avoid poorly lit and overgrown streets and trails.
  • When planning your route make sure to note where there are open businesses that you can stop at in case of emergency.
  • Don’t be predictable. Make sure you change up your route!
  • Bust out the neon! Wear bright and reflective clothing so drivers can see you.
  • Leave the tunes at home. Be aware of your surroundings don’t wear earbuds or headphones.
  • Bring a cell phone and identification. Or at a minimum, have ID and emergency medical information on a tag or on a card.
  • Rely on inner sparkle–don’t wear jewelry or carry money.
  • Use a headlamp, flashlight or clip-on bike light so drivers can see you.
  • Take pepper spray and a whistle in case you do encounter someone or something threatening.
  • Don’t run alone. Taking the dogs out for a run means we’re all getting exercise. If you don’t have a canine friend to accompany you, see if a friend is up for being an exercise buddy.

If you must, make friends with a treadmill for a couple of months. I know, it’s not the same as getting outside, but if it keeps your exercise routine on track, it’s helping your physical and mental health. I struggle with this, as it can seem boring sometimes, but if I don’t have a run buddy on a particular day, a gym treadmill is the next best thing. Skipping a workout never feels good.

In health,


Amy Ramsey is manager of TMC Employee Wellness Engagement, a mom, a Boston marathon runner, hiker and all around fitness guru.


Protecting your family against rabies

skunk rabiesRabies reports have been in the news lately. Tucson has had at least one confirmed case and one suspected case in the last month alone. Additionally, the recent death from rabies of a 6-year old Florida boy is a warning call for us all. Rabies is something as parents with curious and inquisitive children we need to be aware of. We connected with Tim Bohan, nurse practitioner in the TMC pediatric emergency department for a few words of advice to parents and caregivers regarding rabies.

This information is meant as a guide, but should not be used in place of medical advice from your health care provider.

Advice to parents and caregivers regarding rabies:

Thanks to widespread canine rabies vaccination, the disease has become a very rare disease in the United States, but awful situations such as the Florida incident still do happen.

Primarily, the risk is mainly from wild animals, especially bats such as in the Florida case, but raccoons, skunks, foxes, javelinas and coyotes are also sources. We just had a case of a rabid skunk found dead at Jesse Owens Park last month, and this week a suspected rabid gray fox bit a woman in Vail near Rancho del Lago. In total there were 77 cases of rabies identified in animals in 2017 just in Pima County.

What can I do to lower the risk of my child being exposed

  1. Teach your child to never handle wild or unfamiliar domestic animals even if they seem friendly.
  2. Vaccinate your dogs, cats AND ferrets against rabies AND keep up to date with vaccinations.
  3. Bat-proof your home and have those unwelcome lodgers evicted if they’ve already taken residence. Pima Animal Care Center has more information about bat-proofing

My child has been bitten or scratched by a bat/dog/feral cat/ferret/fill in the blank. What should I do?

  1. First thoroughly flush the wound with water and wash it with soap and water.
  2. Call Pima Animal Care Center for help if this animal can be captured, but do not attempt to capture a possibly rabid animal without the proper equipment and training.
  3. Call your pediatrician. Any bite by a wild animal should be considered a risk for rabies until proven otherwise. Exceptions: rabbits, hares, squirrels, rats, mice and other small rodents. Even if your domestic cat or dog has been immunized, if they bite your child they need to be watched for 10 days to make sure that they don’t develop symptoms.

What will the pediatrician do if there is suspicion the bite was from a rabid animal?

We examine the skin. If we think there is a high chance your child has been scratched or bitten by an animal with rabies, we must immediately immunize your child against rabies. The immunization is injected into the skin around the bite. Your child will also receive the rabies vaccination.

Even if we don’t suspect rabies we will often start oral antibiotics to ward off against infection from the bacteria in cat and dog saliva that can cause cellulitis.

My child is terrified of shots. Can we just wait and see?

No. Seek medical attention immediately, and have a professional assess the risk. Once the infection develops there is no sure treatment. Treating at the time of the bite is critical, if not rabies is almost always fatal.

We have bats in our house should I be worried?

Please have the bats removed and bat-proof your home. If the bats have been found in the areas where your child sleeps or plays, whether your child has been bitten or scratched or not – immediately report it to your regular pediatrician.

Tim Bohan NPTim Bohan
Nurse Practitioner
TMC Pediatric Emergency Department


Why children with diabetes need a pediatric endocrinologist

Why see a pediatric endocrinologist

Let’s face it: children are physically, cognitively and emotionally strikingly different from adults. When children have diabetes these differences affect how they communicate and understand symptoms and treatment of the disease.

The pediatric endocrinology team at TMCOne is comprised of specialist providers and educators who support our pediatric patients and their families with developmentally appropriate care. Pediatric endocrinologists treat children with diseases of the endocrine system, such as those with diabetes or growth disorders. We talked to the team about treating children with diabetes:

My child has been diagnosed with diabetes, why should we see a pediatric endocrinologist?

Both children and adults can experience similar symptoms of high and low blood sugars, but younger children might have trouble expressing their symptoms to their parents or caregivers. As physicians and educators, we take extra time to explain complicated medical details to a child in terms they can understand.

The difference between treating children and adults with diabetes isn’t just in how we communicate, but also because we are treating a condition that is affected by the ongoing physiological and hormonal changes associated with growth.

As children grow, develop and experience puberty, their insulin requirements change. Children with diabetes need to have regular monitoring throughout these changes to adjust treatment plans, educate, and help with any problems that have developed around diabetes. The pediatric endocrinology team helps your child and you master the skills and knowledge whether it is a young child newly diagnosed, or the teen who learning to manage diabetes independently of their parents.

Regardless of age, however, a person with diabetes needs a supportive network of family, friends and health care professionals to troubleshoot the everyday or emergent events that can occur with diabetes, whether it is type 1 or type 2.

What is the difference between Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes?

Diabetes is a broad term used to describe a number of disorders with different origins and impacts. What Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes have in common is a problem with the hormone insulin.

The primary purpose of insulin is to pull glucose into the body’s cells. Without insulin, or without a full insulin dose, glucose remains in the blood, raising blood sugar levels in the individual. Both those with Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes must monitor and manage their blood glucose carefully to avoid both short-term symptoms and long-term complications. Both forms of diabetes are serious conditions that require medical care.

Type 1 diabetes

Cells in the pancreas of people with Type 1 diabetes do not make insulin. People with Type 1 diabetes must take insulin to control their blood glucose levels. Insulin can be delivered by injections or pumps. It’s usually diagnosed in children or young adults

Type 2 diabetes

Type 2 diabetes is the form of diabetes that affects a large portion of our adult community, but is seen increasingly in young children. When a person has Type 2 diabetes, insulin is still produced by the pancreas, but it does not work as well as a person without diabetes.

Unlike Type 1 diabetes, Type 2 diabetes is often associated with excess weight. Families are encouraged to use diet and exercise to help weight loss and reduce the body’s resistance to insulin if their child has Type 2 diabetes. In addition, medication may be used to make the insulin more effective. When those treatments do not work, insulin may be used.

Which type of diabetes is more common in children?

New cases of Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes among children are on the rise. Type 1 diabetes is significantly more common in children than Type 2 diabetes. Type 2 diabetes is found predominantly in adults 40 years and older. It is found occasionally in teenagers.

In the last decade, children have been diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes at a higher rate than before. The following risk factors are linked to the higher rates of Type 2 diabetes in children:

  • increased sedentary lifestyle
  • higher body mass index
  • excess of availability of processed foods

Helping children exercise and eat a healthy, balanced diet can help drive down the rates of Type 2 diabetes, but it cannot affect those with Type 1 diabetes. Children with Type 1 diabetes cannot prevent nor treat their lack of insulin through diet and exercise.

Can children acquire both types of diabetes?

A child can get either Type 1 diabetes or Type 2 diabetes. In general, of all the children in Southern Arizona with diabetes, about 85-90 percent have Type 1 diabetes.

It’s important to note that Type 1 diabetes and Type 2 diabetes are managed differently. Type 1 does not become Type 2 diabetes nor does Type 2 become Type 1.

Check out our blog posts about Type 1 diabetes.

When your child is diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes

Dr. Priti Gupta Patel, pediatric endocrinologist

Dr. Chetanbabu M. Patel, pediatric endocrinologist

Dr. Chetanbabu M. Patel, pediatric endocrinologist

Flu season procedures in effect to protect patients, visitors, staff

when to come to the ed with flu and when to stay awayWith Arizona currently experiencing a nearly 800 percent increase in flu cases over last year, Tucson Medical Center has implemented new visitation procedures to reduce the spread of the flu and better protect patients, families and staff.

  • Children can be highly susceptible to flu and those under the age of 13 may not enter patient care areas, although nursing staff will consider extenuating circumstances. Parents are asked to provide supervision while children are in other areas of the hospital, including public waiting lobbies and the cafeteria or coffee shops.
  • Please do not visit patients if you have flu symptoms yourself, including fever, cough, vomiting or other ailments indicating a contagious illness.

Please remember to wash your hands and use hand sanitizer frequently. Also, please keep your hands away from your face to reduce your risk of contracting the flu.

Support from family and friends is important in recovery. We thank you for your help in keeping your loved ones as healthy as possible during this severe flu season.

TMC receives recognition as top 100 hospitals, health systems with great neurosurgery and spine programs


Tucson Medical Center was pleased to be named to Becker’s Healthcare’s 2017 list of “100 hospitals and health systems with great neurosurgery and spine programs.”

The list of organizations reflects those with extensive neuroscience and spine programs and that provide treatment and cutting edge research into neurosurgical disorders. The editorial team examined national and regional rankings and awards for neurosurgery, neurological care and spine surgery.

“The hospitals on this list have earned top honors for medical excellence in their spine and brain surgery departments and we are heartened to see that our hard work in achieving excellent outcomes for our patients has been recognized,” said Chief Medical Officer Rick Anderson.

Becker’s noted that TMC is a regional leader in spine surgery, with specialists performing about 1,000 spine operations per year. National organizations have taken notice of TMC’s neurological surgery program; CareChex ranked the hospital among the top 25 institutions in the country for neurological surgery in 2018. Stroke care is another focus for TMC’s neuroscience department, which boasts Tucson’s only comprehensive stroke center with 24/7 coverage.

Stroke prevention 2018

TMC also has earned comprehensive stroke certification from the Healthcare Facilities Accreditation Program and received the Stroke Gold Plus Quality Achievement Award from the American Heart Association and American Stroke Association. TMC also has a robust brain tumor program, and the Center for Neurosciences worked with the hospital to develop the Brain Tumor Hotline for newly diagnosed patients.

To view the full list, please visit:







You’ve got the flu: Is the Emergency Department for you?

when to come to the ed with flu and when to stay awayThe flu outbreak across the state is hitting much earlier – and far harder – than expected.*

If you’ve come down with influenza, how do you know when you should see your primary care provider or if you should go to the emergency room?

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has a flu guidance page on its website to help you determine whether you should head to the emergency room or your doctor. In short, the emergency room should only be used by those who are very sick and are exhibiting emergency warning signs, including:

In adults

  • Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
  • Pain or pressure in the chest or abdomen
  • Sudden dizziness
  • Confusion
  • Severe or persistent vomiting
  • Flu-like symptoms that improve but then return with fever and worse cough

Looking for a same day appointment with a primary care provider? Check out TMCOne.

In children

  • Fast breathing or trouble breathing
  • Bluish skin color
  • Not drinking enough fluids
  • Not waking up or not interacting
  • Being so irritable that the child does not want to be held
  • Flu-like symptoms improve but then return with fever and worse cough
  • Fever with a rash

In addition to the signs above, get medical help right away for any infant who has any of these signs:

  • Being unable to eat
  • Has trouble breathing
  • Has no tears when crying
  • Significantly fewer wet diapers than normal

Some people are at much higher risk of developing serious complications from the flu than others.

They include:

  • pregnant women or new mothers who have given birth in the past two weeks
  • children, especially those under 2 years old
  • adults over 65
  • people whose body mass index is over 40
  • people with diabetes
  • anyone with a medical condition that compromises his or her immune system

“The important thing to do is to prevent the flu in the first place,” said Cynthia Carsten, interim director of TMC’s Emergency Department. “Wash your hands. Avoid close contact with people who have the flu and get a flu shot – and particularly if you are in a high risk group. If you’re sick, stay home if you can.”

*Arizona Department of Health Services Influenza Summary.

Flu season is here – when to bring your child to the emergency room

Over the past few weeks our pediatric and adult emergency rooms have swelled with patients with flu-like symptoms looking for relief.

While it is critical that some seek emergency help, the majority of patients with the flu do not need emergency medical care.

In the Pediatric Emergency Department we are seeing a lot of children with flu-like symptoms who have high fevers (103F-105F). As a mom to a toddler and a preschooler I know how worrying those high fevers and respiratory symptoms can be, and I have to remind myself that a fever is actually a sign of the body taking care of itself. So when should you bring your child to the emergency room and what can you do at home to relieve symptoms?

This information is meant as a guide, but should not be used in place of medical advice from your health care provider.

If you’re in need of a same day appointment check out TMCOne

When to bring your child with fever and flu symptoms to the emergency room

  1. Your child is struggling to breathe.
    If your child’s skin has a blueish tinge, is breathing fast or is struggling to breath
  2. Is not waking up
    It is normal when we’re sick to sleep or rest, but if you can’t get your child to wake during the day or the child is not interacting go to the emergency room.
  3. If your child has a high-risk condition, such as heart, lung or kidney disease, or an immune-system disease and is spiking a high fever (103F-105F) seek medical help.
  4. If your usually affectionate child is so irritable he or she doesn’t want to be held
  5. Has a fever AND rash
  6. If your infant has no tears when crying or has significantly fewer wet diapers for 8 to 10 hours.
  7. Any infant less than 2 months old who has a fever over 100.4F.

My child seems to be coming down with flu-like symptoms, but none of the above apply.

The kid is miserable and so am I should we come in?

If your child is at high risk of flu complications because of another condition, call your health care provider, otherwise you can probably avoid the emergency room. Try to make children as comfortable as possible at home.

  1. Let them rest
  2. Make sure that they are getting lots of fluids to avoid dehydration
  3. Let the fever do its job. However, if your child is uncomfortable try lowering the body temperature with a lukewarm bath (do not use ice packs or alcohol bath) or giving acetaminophen or ibuprofen. Make sure you give the right dose! Talk to your pediatrician or pharmacists for help in finding the right dose. Do not over bundle them.

What if my child has a fever over 103, should I bring them in?

My child’s temperature recently soared to 105.6 Fahrenheit, and he was uncomfortable so we brought the fever down by alternating doses of ibuprofen and acetaminophen, talk to your pediatrician before trying a combination approach. DO NOT GIVE THEM ASPIRIN – there has been an association with Reye’s syndrome. The medications won’t get rid of the flu, but they may help you and your child ride out the flu with less suffering. If the fever persists for more than three days or if your child develops any of the symptoms above contact your pediatrician.

What we can and can’t do in the emergency room

Make my kid better please!

There is nothing we would like more than to make your child feel better. It’s what we’ve dedicated our lives to. When it comes to the flu we are limited in what we can do. Because the flu is a virus, antibiotics like amoxicillin are USELESS. In fact, they are worse than useless and can be harmful if used when not needed.


While there are antiviral drugs like Tamiflu, there is a very small window at the beginning of the flu where they have limited effectiveness. Usually, by the time your child is exhibiting symptoms, it’s too late. What we can do in the emergency room is help if your child is dehydrated or struggling to breathe.

How can we stop the rest of the family from getting sick?

  1. Teach your children to cough into their elbows and model the behavior to help reduce the amount of germs flying through the air.
  2. Make sure everyone in the family practices good hand-washing technique and washes their hands frequently–after going to the bathroom, before eating or touching their face, etc.
  3. Use masks! Stop the droplets.
  4. Get the flu vaccine. I know, I know, this year’s flu vaccine isn’t as effective as usual, but it is stopping some of the flu variants, AND it may help reduce the length of time you’re affected.
  5. Eat well, get plenty of sleep and exercise.

Healthy wishes,
Melissa Hodges RN

Melissa Hodges is a pediatric emergency room RN and mom to two young boys. Melissa has been at Tucson Medical Center for ten years. She is a knitting ninja apprentice, who makes a mean chili and enjoys spending time with her family and friends in beautiful Tucson, Arizona.

When your child is diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes

type one diabetes diagnosed

“Our biggest goal in properly managing diabetes is to help the patient and family achieve a lifetime of good health.”

Dr. Priti and Chetanbabu M. Patel, TMCOne pediatric endocrinolgists

If your child has received a Type 1 diabetes diagnosis you may be feeling overwhelmed. While the condition develops gradually, the symptoms can seem to appear overnight.

Symptoms of Type 1 diabetes

  • Excessive thirst
  • Hunger or loss of appetite
  • Dry skin
  • Blurry vision
  • Numbness
  • Fruity breath
  • Excessive urination
  • Weight loss
  • Excessive sleeping
  • Irritability
  • Weakness
  • Delays in wound repair or infection control
  • Nausea and vomiting

Not all children will present with the same signs and symptoms. Some children may present with few or none of the above symptoms and some children may present with many.

Is there a cure for Type 1 diabetes?

While there isn’t a cure yet, the past decade and specifically since about 2014, leading-edge technology is helping the diabetes community.

Today some insulin pumps are capable of making micro adjustments to help the patient curb hyperglycemia (low blood sugar) and can turn off the insulin supply if the patient is experiencing hypoglycemia.

Continuous glucose monitors allow patients and families to glance at a screen at any moment to see glucose levels in real time. These advancements are without a doubt life-changing.

However, we still have not discovered the elusive cure. Until that time, it is imperative children with diabetes and their families feel supported and confident in their ability to control blood glucose levels. Please remember people with diabetes do incredible things every day. There are actors, Olympians, scientists and neurosurgeons with diabetes. People with diabetes can live long, productive and healthy lives!

Why is it so important that my child learns to manage Type 1 diabetes?

“We know that if we can help get the glucose (sugar) levels down in the first 5 years, those children will have a smaller number of complications than children who were not able to properly manage their diabetes,” said Dr. Patel. “The three main complications we try to prevent as an adult or older teenager are eye disease, kidney disease and nerve disease.”

Type 1 diabetes is a life-long condition with life-threatening implications if not under control. We know the habits children develop at an early age can stay with them for a lifetime. If children remain supported and encouraged to care for themselves early on, they can develop positive coping skills which can help keep them healthy and happy into adulthood.

What does it mean to ‘manage’ diabetes?

When people with Type 1 diabetes eat carbohydrates–whether whole wheat bread, pasta, fruit or candy–they must inject insulin into their body to help their body move the glucose out of the blood stream and into the cells. You must figure out just how much insulin to inject based upon the amount of carbohydrates consumed. As children’s bodies are constantly growing their insulin needs increase making this adjustment an ever changing target.

Learning how to count carbohydrates at every meal can be demanding for a family. Even families with the best routine can easily forget to cover carbohydrates at a busy family event or on a long road trip. The reality of it is that sometimes life gets in the way. Learning to plan, cope, organize and forgive yourself are some of the best tools for any new Type 1 diabetes family.

The child’s pediatric endocrinology team can be a support system to help the family understand how to safely manage changes in insulin requirements.

What should I do if I think my child may have Type 1 diabetes?

As noted earlier, some children present with few or none of the symptoms listed above, and some children may present with many.

Remember, children go through growth spurts and might ask for more water, might sleep a little more or might be constantly hungry. These symptoms might seem normal, but they could also be clues to a potential diabetes diagnosis.

If you’re concerned, don’t delay. Ask your child’s primary care provider for a glucose test. Depending on the result, the PCP may order additional tests, may start your child on insulin or have your child admitted to the hospital for close monitoring.

Don’t doubt your parental gut feeling! Untreated diabetes can escalate quickly to critical diagnoses like diabetes ketoacidosis or coma. If your child DOES have diabetes, TMC and TMCOne can form a team to help support your child to learn to care for this manageable chronic condition.

You can find the TMCOne pediatric endocrinologist contact information here.

TMC welcomes Tucson’s first two babies of the New Year

Two families at Tucson Medical Center had a lot to celebrate when the clock struck midnight and the calendar turned to 2018.

Baby Nic Tribolet arrived at midnight on the dot, and Baby Aminah Albaka came into the world two minutes later.

Both babies came early, earning a place as Tucson’s newest residents.

“He’s a delight. He’s beautiful and he defies description,” said Nic’s dad, Dominic, of his 7 pound, 15 ounce bundle of perfection. “He’s definitely our New Year’s present.”

Aminah, meanwhile, a petite 5 pound, 10 ounce miracle, was described as a “peaceful baby” by mom Christina Bowe. After a long labor, Bowe said, “All my worries left when I saw her. She’s just a little blessing.”

For more coverage of the babies, check out the links to reports by the Arizona Daily Star and KVOA.

We offer free tours of our maternity departments. Find out more about our services here.







Mission Moment: Traffic accident allows TMC Security to shine


TMC Security Officer Raymond Dugdale

On a recent weekday morning, an elderly gentleman lost control of his vehicle and struck one of the signs at the entrance to the hospital.

TMC Security made sure the man and his wife were not injured, ensured the electricity was turned off to the sign, and directed traffic around any blockages.

Officers Raymond Dugdale and Richard Jaeger didn’t stop there.

They waited with the man and his wife about two hours until the tow truck arrived for the badly damaged vehicle.

They made sure they had water.

They helped the couple cancel some later medical appointments that day, since they would be dealing with the fallout from the accident.

The man called to thank their boss for the kindness they demonstrated.

IMG_8781Dugdale, who came to TMC three years ago after being drawn by its mission and the quality of its Security Department, said people might be surprised at the ways they are called upon to assist patients, families and visitors. On any given day, help might include assisting with failing batteries and flat tires, to finding lost belongings or even helping frazzled family members find their vehicles after parking in a rush to go to the side of a loved one.

“I like to be able to help people,” Dugdale said. “I just put myself in their shoes and in this case, it was clear the gentleman was receptive to help and appreciated it, so we responded in kind.”

Jaeger, who came to TMC nine months ago, added, “I would do the same for anybody.”

He learned kindness, ironically, from working in the prison industry. “Just because someone is incarcerated, you still treat them as people and so you help them when they need it. It’s the same thing here. I try to treat people like family, because they could be going through a lot here at the hospital.”

“What I like about TMC Security is that it’s a lot more than that. It’s overall just helping people, no matter what the issue is – like a complete care package.”

Tucson Medical Center earlier this year adopted a new mission statement. To celebrate, we are sharing an ongoing series of “mission moments.”

What are mission moments? They aren’t necessarily dramatic stories of heroism, although our medical staff saves lives every day. These are moments that breathe life into words – moments that are profound or powerful or touching and that remind us why we do the work we do.

Hundreds of these reminders happen every day. Thank you for letting us share some with yo

Mission Moment: Life-saving care inspires first donation to Mix Miracles Radiothon

Phil WagmanAlthough Phil Wagman says he can never repay Tucson Medical Center for saving his granddaughter’s life, he certainly tries – making the first donation to the MIX Miracles Radiothon every year.

At just six-weeks-old, Wagman’s granddaughter, Kaylee, became extremely ill. “Little Kaylee had a terrible fever and other serious symptoms – we knew it wasn’t just a cold,” he explained.

Comprehensive tests at TMC revealed Wagman’s instincts were correct. Kaylee had a splenic infarction – a serious condition in which the oxygen supply to the spleen is cut-off and threatens the vital organ. “She could have died,” said Wagman. “Their equipment and expertise saved her.”

For the past six years, 94.9 MIXfm has broadcast the MIX Miracles Radiothon from Tucson Medical Center. The two-day, radio fundraiser benefits Tucson’s Children’s Miracle Network hospital – TMC for Children.

In 2011, the first Mix Miracles Radiothon got off to an early start at 5:30 a.m. The Radio DJs were surprised to find Wagman already waiting.

“I wanted to be the first donor – it was time to give back and keep giving back,” said Wagman, who has been the first donor of every Mix Miracles Radiothon.

Wagman takes his participation a step further than dollars, answering the phones and speaking on the radio. “I want to share our experience every year – so that everyone can feel confident their donation is going toward the medical equipment and programs that save children’s lives.”

How is Kaylee now? “She is a healthy young lady who will graduate high school in 2018,” Wagman said.

“She is wonderful and her family can’t imagine life without her.”

Wagman shared another aspect of Kaylee’s care that motivated his philanthropy. “At the time of Kaylee’s illness, her mother didn’t have insurance and that really added to her worry.”

Although, there was never a worry for Wagman. “A strong push for my loyalty and love of TMC is that care is the first and foremost priority. I also knew that TMC has a program to help families in financial need.”

The TMC Community Care program is designed to provide assistance for patients experiencing financial challenges. It’s another way TMC supports the community and provides exceptional care with compassion.

Wagman is a native Tucsonan, who grew up less than a mile from TMC – where he has worked for more than 25 years.

“As long as they have a Radiothon, TMC can count on me to be the first donor.”

Every dollar raised from the Mix Miracles Radiothon stays at TMC, helping purchase life-saving equipment, promoting health and safety education and expanding pediatric programs.

Tucson Medical Center earlier this year adopted a new mission statement. To celebrate, we are sharing an ongoing series of “mission moments.”

What are mission moments? They aren’t necessarily dramatic stories of heroism, although our medical staff saves lives every day. These are moments that breathe life into words – moments that are profound or powerful or touching and that remind us why we do the work we do.

Hundreds of these reminders happen every day. Thank you for letting us share some with you.

Do you have a TMC mission moment you’d like to share?

Send it to Communications@tmcaz.com.


Mission Moment: Bringing comfort to a patient in need

Tucson Medical Center employee Rochelle Kee went above and beyond, providing exceptional health care with compassion for a patient struggling to find needed medical equipment.

A health crisis can be frightening and overwhelming – which is why TMC employees actively look for ways to bring comfort and peace of mind to patients.

If you have walked by the TMC Outpatient Check-In Desk, then you’ve been met with a helpful smile from Kee, who has been a patient service representative at TMC for the last three years.

“I help patients check in for procedures, radiology and more,” she said. “The ‘more’ part covers a lot – because if I can’t help you, I’ll find the right person who can.”

Recently a patient approached Kee, though he wasn’t checking in – he had been discharged from the Emergency Department with a prescription for a cane and was looking for help.

“The gentleman was limping and I could tell he was suffering,” Kee said. “He was so frustrated and upset because every provider was too expensive or didn’t take his insurance.”

Kee took the initiative to call several locations. “Some of the locations couldn’t help and the few that could were across town, and he didn’t have transportation.”

The elderly patient seemed to lose all hope. “He said he was going to give up,” said Kee “But I don’t give up.” She had an idea – and asked the patient to wait a few more moments.

Kee went across the street to the Teal Saguaro, a thrift store operated by the TMC Auxiliary with proceeds supporting TMC and its services.

“He just couldn’t believe it when I came back with a cane for him,” said Kee. “And I couldn’t believe it when he started crying – he even gave me a hug.” Although Kee bought the cane herself, she presented it to the patient as a Christmas gift from TMC.

Her act of kindness quickly spread, with other TMC personnel offering the patient lunch at the nearby café inside the hospital.

Several fellow employees witnessed Kee’s interaction with the patient, and nominated her for a “Caught in the Act” recognition.

At TMC, we aspire to serve our community by being the best health system as defined by the quality of care we deliver, the experiences we create and the value we bring. Employees like Rochelle Kee help make the hospital’s vision a reality, every day.

“I just want to help people the best I can,” she said. “I feel blessed in my life and I hope I can be a blessing to others.”

Tucson Medical Center earlier this year adopted a new mission statement. To celebrate, we are sharing an ongoing series of “mission moments.”

What are mission moments? They aren’t necessarily dramatic stories of heroism, although our medical staff saves lives every day. These are moments that breathe life into words – moments that are profound or powerful or touching and that remind us why we do the work we do.

Hundreds of these reminders happen every day. Thank you for letting us share some with you.

Do you have a TMC mission moment you’d like to share?

Send it to Communications@tmcaz.com.


Mission Moment: Two hearts, two stories and a stocking

Marlise and baby in stockingBridget Stith’s Story

On a Christmas Eve nearly 46 years ago, Bridget Stith gave birth to her son, Kalyn, at TMC. Early on Christmas morning the TMC nurses carried her baby boy into the room, holding him in a precious holiday stocking.

“It was so memorable – I never forgot the thoughtful gift and the special joy it brought me and my family,” said Stith. “Every year since, Santa has left gifts in Kalyn’s stocking.”

Fast forward four decades – Stith and her family are active community advocates who were motivated to action when they made a discovery.

“That holiday stocking made such a difference for me, and I remember it as though it were yesterday,” said Stith. “I recently learned that TMC Labor and Delivery needed funds to provide stockings for babies born around the holidays – I’m sentimental and I felt in my heart that I had to do something.”

Marlise Mackey’s Story

In 1988, Marlise Mackey was rushed to TMC, excitedly expecting her first child – but that excitement turned to worry when complications arose.

“My placenta had detached and I was taken to surgery right away – I was so worried for me and my baby,” she said. Both baby and mom made it through – Mackey welcomed a baby boy at 7 lbs. 9 oz.

“I never forgot the TMC doctors and nurses, they were so caring and so professional – it inspired me to become a labor and delivery nurse.”

Today, Marlise Mackey has been a nurse for almost 30 years, and she currently serves as a surgical technician right here at TMC Labor and Delivery.

When an expectant mother was experiencing a detached placenta, just as Mackey had, she provided comfort as she moved the mom-to-be into the very same operating room that she was treated in.

“We saved the mom and baby, who was born at 7 lbs. 9 oz., just like my son,” said Mackey. “When I had the chance to give back to a mom and baby in the same OR, with a son born in the same way and at the same weight – my heart told me I could do more.”

Marlise and Bridget

Two Hearts

The two hearts came together when Bridget Stith provided a generous grant to the TMC Foundation to fund the stocking materials, and Marlise Mackey offered the time and effort to tailor the festive garb.

“The doctors and TMC nurses were so good to me – they went above and beyond, and this is my way of doing the same,” said Mackey.

The non-denominational holiday stockings are provided for babies born the week before, during and after the Christmas holiday.

“I’m so excited to be a part of it,” said Stith. “I hope the stockings bring families the same joy and memories that it still brings me.”

Tucson Medical Center earlier this year adopted a new mission statement. To celebrate, we will share an ongoing series of “mission moments.”

What are mission moments? They aren’t necessarily dramatic stories of heroism, although our medical staff saves lives every day. These are moments that breathe life into words – moments that are profound or powerful or touching and that remind us why we do the work we do.

Hundreds of these reminders happen every day. Thank you for letting us share some with you.

Do you have a TMC mission moment you’d like to share? Send it to Communications@tmcaz.com

Mission Moment: Transporter warms hearts with simple gesture

Transporter Christina Ruebush living the mission by going beyond.
When a simple get-well card brought joy to a discouraged patient, a TMC employee decided to provide a thoughtful card to every patient she serves.

TMC patient transporter Christina Ruebush joined the ranks six months ago, after having an exceptional health care experience at TMC. “The staff were so polite and thoughtful that I knew this would be a great place to work.”

Ruebush’s fast-paced position takes her back-and-forth across TMC’s 100-acre campus, but she doesn’t mind. “I really enjoy the patient interaction,” she said. “Anytime I can be supportive or help in any way, I do.”

Not long ago, a patient motivated Ruebush to start doing something new. “I had transported an elderly man several times – each time he was very unhappy, grumpy and even mean.”

Ruebush thought about what might help. “So I went out and bought him a get-well card.”

When Ruebush was called to transport him again, she handed the card to the patient. Although Ruebush didn’t expect anything in return, she received a new understanding that would change her forever.

“The patient’s demeanor was completely different – he kindly thanked me over and over, and explained that he was alone, with no friends or family – he really just wanted someone to talk with.”

After enjoying a conversation with the patient, Ruebush stopped by the dollar store on the way home. “I decided that I was going to give every patient I transported a get-well card.”

For months, Ruebush has been providing every patient she transports with a card offering kind and sincere wishes. “It’s well worth the heartfelt thank yous and smiles I get,” she said.

This week, Ruebush is doing even more – she is providing each patient staying at TMC on Christmas Day with a get-well card.

“At TMC, we thrive on patient experience,” said Ruebush. “No matter what they are experiencing, patients appreciate knowing that TMC cares.”

Tucson Medical Center earlier this year adopted a new mission statement. To celebrate, we are sharing an ongoing series of “mission moments.”

What are mission moments? They aren’t necessarily dramatic stories of heroism, although our medical staff saves lives every day. These are moments that breathe life into words – moments that are profound or powerful or touching and that remind us why we do the work we do.

Hundreds of these reminders happen every day. Thank you for letting us share some with you.

Do you have a TMC mission moment you’d like to share? Send it to Communications@tmcaz.com

Mission Moments: Cultivating kindness at a crosswalk

Audrey Fimbres has started building extra time into her walk across Grant Road as she heads to Tucson Medical Center’s surgical tower from her office across the street.

A nurse and the manager of Pre-Anesthesia Testing located across from the main hospital, Fimbres typically comes upon others in need at least three times a week, and particularly as they head to the Emergency Department.

Recently, she came upon a man on crutches, carrying two large bags of belongings and clearly in pain, trying to make it from Grant to the Emergency Department. She had him rest where he was while she got a wheelchair to get him more comfortably to his destination.

The day before, she met a woman whose car was stalled in the intersection. Fimbres helped her call for assistance, and in the interim, called an officer from TMC Security, who was able to jump her car, revive her battery and get her back on the road.

“I want to help people and be kind to people – because sometimes people aren’t kind,” Fimbres said, adding that commuters were honking and yelling at the woman whose car had stalled. “She was crying and she clearly needed someone to be kind to her that day. You can’t just walk past people who are in distress or who need help.”

Fimbres started cultivating kindness as a way of getting through those awkward years in middle school when kids can be mean – and it’s something she’s practiced the rest of her life. It’s why she got into nursing 16 years ago and why she has been at TMC for the past 11.

“I became a nurse to take care of people and my favorite part of working here is all the ways we get to engage with our community,” she said. “I just think it’s important to think about what kind of day other people might be having and what they’re going through.”

Tucson Medical Center earlier this year adopted a new mission statement. To celebrate, we are sharing a series of “mission moments.”

What are mission moments? They aren’t necessarily dramatic stories of heroism, although our medical staff saves lives every day. These are moments that breathe life into words – moments that are profound or powerful or touching and that remind us why we do the work we do. Hundreds of these reminders happen every day. Thank you for letting us share some with you.

Do you have a TMC mission moment you’d like to share? Send it to Communications@tmcaz.com.

Keep the Yummy, Healthy this Holiday Season

healthy holiday recipe modificationsWelcome to the season of festive gatherings and indulgent eating. Nutritionally speaking, this is a tough time of year. We don’t want to give up delicious holiday dishes; however, we would rather not wreck our health through weeks of unhealthy eating. Fortunately, with a few modifications and a little moderation, we don’t have to do either.

There are three magic ingredients most cooks rely on to make their dishes taste better: salt, fat and sugar. Unfortunately, these ingredients can damage our health when used too heavily and consumed too often. Here’s the good news: you can still get that delicious taste by using salt, fat and sugar in moderation. Let’s look at ways we can reduce them.

Cutting the salt

  • Before adding salt to a recipe, think about why – or even if – it is necessary. Maybe you don’t really need it, or perhaps you could use half the amount called for.
  • Instead of salt, try herbs and spices to enhance the flavor of your food. Other seasonings to try: pepper, citrus juice or zest, onion or garlic, vinegar, salt-free seasoning blends, nutritional yeast. Beware of spice mixes that may contain salt.
  • If using canned tomatoes, beans or broth in a recipe, choose a no-salt-added or low-sodium version of the product.
  • When baking, be careful about how much salt you remove from the recipe, as that can change the texture of the final product.

Lightening up with less saturated (bad) fat

  • In cooking, replace butter and coconut oil with olive oil or canola oil. This won’t work in baking, however, because you would get a completely different texture.
  • Pie crusts are full of butter or other highly saturated fat. Try a crust-less version of your dessert instead.
  • Buy lean cuts of meat: chicken and turkey breasts, beef “loin” or “round,” pork tenderloin. Consider serving fish in place of meat.
  • Try replacing some full-fat dairy products with low-fat or fat-free versions. For example, do you need both butter and cream in mashed potatoes, or could you do with butter and low-fat milk?
  • Roast, grill, broil or stew food instead of frying.

Scaling back on sugar

  • Bring out the natural sweetness in food by adding spices such as nutmeg, cinnamon, allspice, cloves, mace, vanilla or almond extract.
  • When baking, try reducing the amount of sugar in the recipe by a quarter, or 25 percent. (For example, use 3/4 cup instead of 1 cup of sugar.) You may be able to reduce it further, but this may affect the browning and texture of your baked goods.

A few more things to remember

  • Choose good quality ingredients, so that their natural flavors make the dish delish!
  • To boost the nutritional value of your meals, add more fruits and vegetables. Try adding dried fruits or extra vegetables to traditional recipes such as stuffing, quick breads and salads. An simple, tasty addition to any meal is to cut up a variety of your favorite veggies into similar-sized pieces (about 1 ½-inch), coat them in olive oil and sprinkle with your favorite herbs. Spread them on a sheet pan and roast at 400 degrees until golden on the outside and slightly tender on the inside.
  • Indulge mindfully. If you have a generally healthy diet most of the time, you can allow yourself room for some holiday indulgences. The key is to enjoy them, with all your senses and without a shred of regret.

We wish you happy, healthy and tasty holidays!

Laurie Ledford is a registered dietitian from Atlanta, Georgia, the land of grits, collard greens and super-sweet iced tea. She now works as a registered dietitian  in the Tucson Medical Center Wellness Department. She enjoys helping people improve their health through sustainable dietary changes while still relishing occasional indulgences. In her off hours, Laurie engages in foodie pursuits such as sampling unusual flavor combinations (olive oil and basil ice cream was a good one) as well as hiking and cycling.

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Mission Moments: Health insurance a passion for outreach specialist

Sylvia Brown lives insurance.

As an assister who helps community members sign up for insurance on the marketplace or through government channels, Brown knows when open enrollment comes around in the fall, she will be fielding lots of insurance inquiries.

“Off hours, after hours, weekends – you have to help when you get the call, so if it’s 7 or 8 p.m., that just means I’m hopping on the laptop to walk someone through it,” said Brown, who has been helping community members with marketplace enrollment since its inception in 2014.

After open enrollment began this fall, Brown received a phone call from a woman who was worried about the high cost of insurance premiums through her employer.

Brown walked her through why it was going to be more cost effective to stay with the employer’s health plan – but insurance can be complex, and she knew the woman would benefit from coming in after work to go through it in person. While she was at it, she helped the woman understand other benefit fundamentals, such as the difference between a health savings account and a flexible spending account – and how those could help her meet her health care goals.

“Even though I knew it wasn’t going to change the outcome and it was going to be a late evening, I wanted to take the time to sit with her and go through numbers with her so that she had peace of mind that she was making the right choices for herself and her family,” Brown said.

She makes her personal phone number easily accessible on social media – and has become a bit of the go-to guru on insurance for her family and friends as well.

Brown is so committed because she knows all too well the difference that insurance can make for a family.

“As a young single mother of small children, having to provide coverage by myself for my kids, there was one time my daughter jumped off the bed and cracked her head on the dresser,” Brown recalled. “I was so thankful I had budgeted to have insurance – so I know firsthand how important health coverage is and I also know there are so many consumers out there are in need of information.”

Tucson Medical Center earlier this year adopted a new mission statement. To celebrate, we are sharing an ongoing series of “mission moments.”

What are mission moments? They aren’t necessarily dramatic stories of heroism, although our medical staff saves lives every day. These are moments that breathe life into words – moments that are profound or powerful or touching and that remind us why we do the work we do. Hundreds of these reminders happen every day. Thank you for letting us share some with you.

Do you have a TMC mission moment you’d like to share? Send it to Communications@tmcaz.com.

Mission Moments: Missing tennis shoes meet a bulldog of a nurse

After an elderly patient left Tucson Medical Center following a stroke, her sister called in a panic.
The patient had compromised movement with partial paralysis of the left side that required special shoes to help with her mobility. They would be important in physical therapy sessions to help rebuild her strength.

And they were missing.

Will Bascom was the charge nurse that evening in the Emergency Department when the frantic call came in. He promised to track them down.

They weren’t in the Emergency Department and they weren’t in the room she recovered in. It took a bit of sleuthing, but ultimately it turned out they already had been brought back to the patient’s care home and were waiting for pickup.

The patient’s sister called later to say how appreciative she was. “Amidst his busy scheduled, he hunted them down. I can’t say enough about how he treated me when we were going through such a hard time.”

For Bascom, of course, he was going to help.

“More often than not, we see people in some of the worst times of their lives. It’s as simple as that. So if I get a request like this – to help someone out at a time when they’re going through this life-changing event and even a small thing means the world in that moment – I’m like a bulldog,” he said.

Bascom said people typically get into health care because they have compassion and empathy for others. “I treat everyone like my own family. I don’t care why you’re here and where you’re from. I’m not a judge. My job here is to take care of you. I think many people just lead such busy lives that it’s hard to have time for anyone else. I’ve always done what I could to help others.”

Tucson Medical Center earlier this year adopted a new mission statement. To celebrate, we are sharing an ongoing series of “mission moments.”

What are mission moments? They aren’t necessarily dramatic stories of heroism, although our medical staff saves lives every day. These are moments that breathe life into words – moments that are profound or powerful or touching and that remind us why we do the work we do. Hundreds of these reminders happen every day. Thank you for letting us share some with you.

Do you have a TMC mission moment you’d like to share? Send it to Communications@tmcaz.com.

Mission Moments: Community projects give added purpose to employee group

Each quarter the 230 employees who make up nine different areas of TMC Revenue Cycle & Health Information Management pick community projects in which to participate.

The employees, who work in areas such as admitting, billing and medical records, have been doing these projects as a group for 15 years – ever since their director, Maria Persons, brought the practice with her from Yale New Haven Health.

They’ve held drives for household items for survivors of domestic violence. They’ve adopted schools for back-to-school supplies and backpacks. They’ve collecting clothing and monetary donations for homeless teens. They’ve adopted nursing home residents, providing lap blankets, socks and other necessities we often take for granted.

They’ve donated books for book drives and stocked Peppi’s House “family closet” with pajamas, playing cards and family games for hospice visitors to help ease stress and build memories during those times of transition.

There have been holiday toy and food drives, campaigns to help provide for underserved children and most recently, an effort to provide vaccinations, leashes, collars and other supplies for the pets of homeless people. They’ve even helped fellow employees, supporting one whose home burned down and provided holiday food baskets for others going through rough patches.

The donations come from a “jeans fund” that employees pay into so they can wear jeans on the last Friday of the month, but the bulk of it comes from personal donations. The projects are selected by a committee of about a dozen employees from the nine areas and designed to mesh with TMC’s values.

“I am always overwhelmed by the generosity of the staff,” Persons said. “We’re a community-based hospital and we’re here to serve, and I think these efforts just add another level of humanity to the work we do here.”

She added that “it is just so heartening to see the work of the other community organizations out there helping and it feels good to jump in and be part of it. I’m so proud of the efforts they make each quarter because even though we’re a small group, I think we’re making a big impact.”

Tucson Medical Center earlier this year adopted a new mission statement. To celebrate, we are sharing an ongoing series of “mission moments.”

What are mission moments? They aren’t necessarily dramatic stories of heroism, although our medical staff saves lives every day. These are moments that breathe life into words – moments that are profound or powerful or touching and that remind us why we do the work we do. Hundreds of these reminders happen every day. Thank you for letting us share some with you.

Do you have a TMC mission moment you’d like to share? Send it to Communications@tmcaz.com.

Mission Moment: Nurse heroes saving a life out in the community

When nurses Kimberly Fore and Cindy Sacra agreed to staff the first aid booth at the recent Health Insurance Enrollment & Family Fun Festival in early December, they figured they might help with the small injuries that can come along with community running events.

With three races that morning, including nearly 1,000 girls and their running buddies doing a 5k through Girls on the Run, they figured it would be the usual. Scrapes. Maybe a blister. At worst, a turned ankle.

So in that split second when they heard there was a runner down during a 1-mile running event for men, they thought maybe they’d be patching up a skinned knee.

Fore, the director of TMC Hospice, started loping out to the scene. A passing runner told her it was serious. She broke into a sprint and found the runner in the throes of a serious medical event.

Sacra, the Clinical Informatics team lead, was right behind her, carrying medical supplies.

The two, along with TMCOne front desk service representative Lauren Barnhart, whose son was participating in the race, provided CPR until medics arrived.

In large part because of the speedy reaction of the TMC staff member, the man was revived and taken to the hospital.

While others at the festival were in awe of the heroic work that unfolded before them, Fore and Sacra afterward brushed off any adulation. “We’re nurses. This is what we do,” Fore said. Sacra agreed. “When we have an opportunity to help someone in need, we are always going to respond.”

Barnhart agreed that help was just instinctive. “It was my first reaction to help this gentleman. In the moment I was doing what I do best. It is so rewarding to know I helped save someone’s grandpa, uncle, brother, dad or son.”

But for others, it was a moment that crystallized TMC’s mission.

“Our mission is to provide exceptional health care with compassion. That was on display on this day and I am humbled to work with amazing people who serve our community every day,” said Julia Strange, TMC’s vice president of Community Benefit.

Tucson Medical Center earlier this year adopted a new mission statement. To celebrate, we will share an ongoing series of “mission moments.”

What are mission moments? They aren’t necessarily dramatic stories of heroism, although our medical staff saves lives every day. These are moments that breathe life into words – moments that are profound or powerful or touching and that remind us why we do the work we do. Hundreds of these reminders happen every day. Thank you for letting us share some with you.

Do you have a TMC mission moment you’d like to share? Send it to Communications@tmcaz.com.

Because medicine is not static: Meet Lacie – authentic obstetric simulator

obstetric simulator obgynTMC for Women is the lead provider for childbirth in Southern Arizona. Whether a mother is seeking a natural birth with no interventions or a high risk pregnancy that requires interventions and everything in between, the staff at TMC is constantly updating their knowledge to be prepared. Thanks to the support of the TMC Mega Raffle, a lifelike training simulator is giving techs, nurses and physicians realistic preparation to best address birthing complications and challenges.

During childbirth, serious health risks can arise suddenly and clinical staff must act quickly to protect mom and baby. “The better the training – the better the patient outcomes,” said Stacie Wood, clinical nurse educator at TMC for Women. “Our simulator is a bridge between classroom learning and real-life clinical experience.”

Just what is an advanced obstetric simulator and how real is it?

“The simulator is a wireless, robotic mannequin that can talk, breathe, blink, and respond,” said Wood.

The authentic simulator, which the TMC for Women staff named Lacie, is intended to be as human as possible – even her skin texture is strikingly realistic.

Yet, there is more to this mannequin than a realistic appearance. Lacie can give birth, react to medications, simulate bleeding and record metrics, such as the force of CPR compressions.

“We are able to train for all obstetrical scenarios and emergency care,” Wood explained. “Lacie offers unrivaled realism and versatility for clinicians to practice high-risk scenarios.”

TMC has taken full advantage of the unique training opportunities that Lacie offers. Lacie is housed in her own simulation suite, built to resemble TMC’s patient rooms. There is an adjacent control room with a one-way mirror, through which specially trained nurses operate Lacie using a laptop computer.

The control room also serves as a debrief room. Debriefing is the most important part of the training exercises. Participants are asked to reflect on their actions and discuss key learning points, which can then be applied to real-life situations.

Why is training with Lacie better than a standard training?

“Lacie is interactive and that makes the clinical participants more than observers,” said Wood. “The clinical staff engage the emotional and sensory components of learning that are beneficial for critical thinking, decision-making and delegation.”

TMC is the only hospital in Southern Arizona with the advanced simulator and one of very few hospitals to have the in-depth training available on campus. “Going forward, we will provide quarterly simulations using Lacie, because enhancing staff education and proficiency means enhancing patient care and safety.” Wood said.



TMC receives Dietetic internship accreditation

dietetic internship tucsonTucson Medical Center has been granted accreditation for a Dietetic Internship Program by the Accreditation Council for Education in Nutrition and Dietetics (ACEND). TMC will accept four interns per year to complete the 1,200 hours of supervised practice in order to be eligible to take the exam necessary to become a Registered Dietitian.

“For this first year what we really wanted to do is give back to TMC, so we did an internal candidate selection. We wanted either an employee or a volunteer,” says Beth Dorsey, director of food and nutrition services. The interns starting Jan. 2 are Zoe Schroeder and Lance Kokot, both Food and Nutrition Services Associates. TMC will participate in the national match program for the next round of interns.

“You have to complete an accredited supervised practice internship in order to sit for the examination to become a registered dietitian. There aren’t enough internships in the United States and of those internships, there is only a 60 percent match rate,” said Dorsey.

To be eligible for the nine-month TMC internship program, candidates must have a Bachelor’s Degree in Nutrition with a Dietetics emphasis from an accredited institution.

“While precepting interns is a time commitment, it encourages us to stay up to date on the most current research and nutritional practice. All of our clinical dietitians are qualified to precept dietetic interns because they are credentialed through CDR and maintain a current registration,” said Dorsey. “We have precepted interns in the clinical portion at TMC for years for other organizations; we’ve just never had our own baby, we’re really excited.”

The full dietetic internship program includes community, clinical, research and food service. To build the program prior to applying for accreditation, Dorsey and Patient Food Services Manager, Ruth Halter, reached out to consultant Apameh Bashar, “Her expertise was essential to the creation of this program and we are so grateful for her,” said Halter. After guiding them through the development and application process, Bashar joined the TMCOne staff as a certified diabetes educator.

Dorsey says, “Ultimately, it’s good for the Tucson community. The reason that we did this is because the University of Arizona has so many graduates in nutrition, approximately 150 a year, and there are very few spots in Tucson to get an internship … maybe ten spots for all of the graduates. And if they don’t get an internship in Tucson that means that we lose them and we want to keep them in the community of Southern Arizona.”

Mission Moments: Inspired by a 6 year old to first assume good intentions

Family of four standing in front of a bay

The call was enough to make a parent’s heart drop: Come to the school now. Your daughter may have to go to the Emergency Department.

Sanjay Timbadia, Tucson Medical Center’s Laboratory manager, rushed to school to find his first-grade daughter’s head bandaged with blood in her hair and on her dress.

A child had been throwing rocks on the playground and one of them had struck his daughter in the head while she played on the monkey bars. There wasn’t any malice: It was just an accident.

It was later, after she had been treated at the TMC Pediatric Emergency Department, that the little girl said something that was a poignant reminder for her father.

“That boy that threw the rock: I think he was just trying to get it out of the playground so that no one would trip on it,” she said.

It was a moment for pride and reflection, Timbadia said, and he shared the story with his team as they entered the holiday season.

“She has reminded us of an amazing lesson: to always assume positive intent first,” Timbadia said.

The lesson can be applied in the lab, which is a busy place that processes more than 2 million tests every year. It can also just as importantly be applied in everyday life as a balm against the divisions that can cause cultural and political divides – and it’s even stronger when peppered with gratitude, he noted.

“If I’m delayed because I’m in traffic or if I get a flat tire, I just try to remember that at least I have a car to take me places because there are many others who are waiting for a bus in the summer heat,” Timbadia said. “And if someone gets in front of me and drives slowly, you never know: Maybe that person just prevented me from getting into an accident.

“I think like anything else, assuming positive intent and being grateful is something we learn, and it’s also something that gets stronger with practice. At TMC, we are committed to being here to make things better for our patients and our community when they need us – and we approach that work with positive intent.”

Tucson Medical Center earlier this year adopted a new mission statement. To celebrate, we will share an ongoing series of “mission moments.”

What are mission moments? They aren’t necessarily dramatic stories of heroism, although our medical staff saves lives every day. These are moments that breathe life into words – moments that are profound or powerful or touching and that remind us why we do the work we do. Hundreds of these reminders happen every day. Thank you for letting us share some with you.

Do you have a TMC mission moment you’d like to share? Send it to Communications@tmcaz.com.

Heart of Hospice: The glue that holds the team together

Sherry Schneider, admissions coordinator for TMC Hospice, was honored this week as the Heart of Hospice.

Schneider, who has been with TMC Hospice for almost eight years, coordinates the assessments of patients to ensure they qualify for hospice benefits, and then begins the process of admitting patients into Hospice. She works hand and hand with admission nurses, case managers and physicians within TMC Hospice as well as all over the community. She is also usually the person one would call if they were considering hospice for themselves or a loved one.

TMC Hospice admissions coordinator holding a boquet of red and white rosesAnyone who was around for the morning celebration would have heard the superlatives flying around to describe Schneider.

“Sherry is a really incredible person to work with,” said Stephanie Carter, manager of hospice care. “She’s always willing to help out no matter how long it takes.”

According to the anonymous nomination, “Sherry is amazing! Somehow she is able to juggle so many responsibilities at once. She always does her best to get as many people seen as quickly as possible; often with not enough staff and paltry records. She navigates the murky waters of insurance companies, Medicare and the VA and case managers, all the while be politic and professional.”

But perhaps the highest praise comes by those who have had to step into her shoes when she is not around.

“I can safely say that anyone of us who has ever covered for her has likely cried at his or her desk, overwhelmed by the phone calls, requests, question and responsibilities,” the nominator said.

Her director, Kim Fore, put it succinctly, “Sherry is awesome. She’s our glue.”

The quarterly award comes with a recognition plaque on the unit, a pin and a dedicated parking space. The award allows colleagues to recognize their peers:

Everything he or she does is for our patients and families and personifies compassion, kindness, empathy, a great work ethic and knowledge. The Heart of Hospice is also someone who is calm under pressure, is respectful, is detail-oriented, is a critical thinker, and has great communication skills. This person is someone who is always there to help his or her peers and does so with grace and skill. Being able to nominate someone for this award is a gift because it means you have observed greatness, not just once, but every time you have interacted with this individual.

Has a TMC Hospice nurse made a difference in your life? Consider recognizing this extraordinary nurse with a DAISY Award nomination.

Mission Moments: Responding to the disaster in Puerto Rico

Tucson Medical Center earlier this year adopted a new mission statement. To celebrate, we will share an ongoing series of “mission moments.”

What are mission moments? They aren’t necessarily dramatic stories of heroism, although our medical staff saves lives every day. These are moments that breathe life into words – moments that are profound or powerful or touching and that remind us why we do the work we do.

Hundreds of these reminders happen every day. Thank you for letting us share some with you.

Dr. Monica Guzman Zayas

Dr. Monica Guzman Zayas watched helplessly as news reports showed her childhood home in Puerto Rico being decimated by hurricane winds and rain.

Her parents still live in her small hometown of Villalba, in a remote central area high in the mountains. For 16 days, she couldn’t reach them to find out if they were in a refugee center or if they were OK.

When the anesthesiologist at Old Pueblo Anesthesia finally was able to connect with them, she was relieved that they were OK. But she heard terrible stories of people on dialysis or in need of oxygen tanks struggling for any kind of routine medical services given the damage across the island to road networks, communication channels and power services.

“It just all seemed so desperate and I could not believe what I was seeing. I knew I had to help somehow.”

Dr. Guzman decided to ask if TMC might be able to assist with medications. The Pharmacy rapidly identified drugs that could make an immediate impact in the disaster, including those needed to treat infections and provide relief from symptoms.

“I cannot tell you how happy I was,” she said. “I asked because I feel that TMC is very involved in the community to make a difference. They don’t just say it, they do it. Their goal is to help the community to make things better, and that was true when another part of this country was in great need,” she said.

Guzman partnered with an aid group comprised of other doctors from Puerto Rico who banded together to secure desperately needed medicine, equipment and supplies. Dr. Guzman drew strength from seeing the photo (above) of the medical staff on the ground in Puerto Rico opening the boxes.

“It feels great to be able to help, especially being originally from there and seeing the destruction and knowing that what you remember is not there,” Dr. Guzman said. “You feel you are so far away and not able to reach them, so to be able to make some difference, I just don’t have the words to describe it.”

Do you have a TMC mission moment you’d like to share? Send it to Communications@tmcaz.com.

Making the most of your primary care visit

why you need a doctor before you get sickRegularly visiting a primary care provider is one of the best ways to maintain strong health – here’s what you can expect before, during and after the visit.

Knowing what to expect will put you at ease and help make the most of every visit.

Before the visit

First steps

When you schedule your appointment, ask about new patient registration forms. These forms usually request health history, medications, and insurance information.

Yes, there are forms to complete – but they serve a very important purpose and are not as long as you might anticipate.

“Providers want be your health partner and a little bit of preparation will be worth your time,” said Kathy McLeod, a family nurse-practitioner and primary care provider at the TMCOne Rincon location.

“As a provider, the more information I know about your health history, the better health partner I can be – providing information to best help you make current and future health choices,” McLeod said.

Arrive a little early

You should also take a peek at your insurance card to determine your copay, and be prepared to make your copayment when you arrive. If it’s your first visit, arriving 15 minutes early will help keep everyone on schedule.

If you have not completed the new patient forms yet – arrive about 30 minutes early to ensure you have enough time to finish them before your appointment.

Prioritize your questions and share your goals

It is recommended patients jot down a few questions a head of time, and prioritize them depending on their most immediate concerns.

“It is important to me to know what is foremost on a patient’s mind – and what their overall health goals are.”

During your visit

The PCP is here for you

If you are feeling nervous, remember that a PCP is your health partner and their purpose is to assist you. Discussions about your health care are confidential and protected by federal law.

“We want patients to feel confident sharing their health challenges and history so we can provide the best health advice and direction possible.”

Your needs are the priority

A PCP visit may include a physical exam. If you have privacy preferences, let the provider know.

“A dedicated PCP will make accommodations to ensure the patient feels comfortable, respected and valued,” explained McLeod.

Long-term health goals

The provider can do more than treat an immediate health need – they can review your health history and help make a plan to maintain good health going forward.

“A healthy lifestyle is not a one-size fits all,” said McLeod. “We think critically about each patient’s health and health challenges, discuss needs and preferences and help tailor a healthy plan just for you.”

After your visit

Schedule your next appointment before you leave

Numerous studies have shown that people who regularly visit their health care provider are healthier – so be sure to make your next appointment before you leave.

“Based on your health needs and challenges, you and your provider should decide when the next appointment should be.”

Schedule referrals, testing and blood draws right away

“It’s a good idea to make arrangements as soon as possible.” McLeod explained. “The faster you schedule, the faster you can get needed results and we can take action.”

The PCP is your health resource

Contact your PCP’s office with any health developments, because they can help facilitate treatment quickly. “Whether big or small – a PCP is your personal health resource. Please remember to call 911 immediately for emergencies and life threatening matters.”

Get all the answers

A patient’s health education and understanding are crucial – so what should a patient do if they have an additional question? “Online patient portals are becoming more commonplace and are one of the easiest and fastest ways to keep in contact with your provider,” said McLeod.


MyChart is secure, online access to your health information at TMCOne. Your health information and your visits to TMCOne are available at your fingertips from the privacy of your home computer, smartphone or tablet at any time, day or night. All that is needed is Internet access and an email account.

With MyChart you can:

  • View your health summary, current list of medications and allergies
  • Email your provider with non-urgent medical questions (please allow 48 hours for answers)
  • Make and cancel appointments
  • e-Check In for scheduled appoints, allowing you to fill out any needed paperwork ahead of time.
  • Refill prescriptions
  • View test/lab results as released by your provider
  • Access medical information of children or dependent adults, including access to immunizations
  • Review post-visit instructions
  • Online bill pay

Provide input

Health care organizations like TMCOne often send surveys to their patients – please take a moment to share your experience.

“Your suggestions matter to the PCP,” McLeod said. “At TMCOne our mission is to provide the highest quality, compassionate care to every patient every time. We are always looking to improve patient experience and we take patient feedback very seriously.”

The TMCOne website provides patient resources, preparation information for your visit, and new patient forms.

Click here for further information about MyChart.

Enjoying the Season While Avoiding Stress – Tips from Mary Atkinson, Director of Wellness

Tips for keeping the stress at bay this holiday season
Do you have a love-hate relationship with this time of year? You love the vision of family and friends brought together to celebrate and the fantasy shown on Pinterest or in magazines, but you hate the pressure you feel to create some idyllic experience? Our director of Wellness, Mary Atkinson, has these suggestions to reduce the stress and up your enjoyment of the season:
  1. Review your calendar
    It’s easy to fill up your calendar with events and gatherings and feel rushed at every one. Sit down with your family and discuss which events are actually truly loved and which have just become routine. Perhaps the annual potato latke cook-off is a must do for the whole family, but the bike ride around Winterhaven lights is no longer top of everyone’s list. Remember those quiet moments with loved ones where you’re not doing anything but lighting candles together and savoring the moment can be the most precious.
  2. Celebrate the season
    Don’t focus on one day. We can get hung up on creating the ‘perfect day’ pinning too many hopes on one day. Refocus on the little moments of beauty, kindness and community that you experience throughout the month.
  3. Ask for help and delegate
    Whether it’s sharing the responsibilities of a fancy meal for a horde of family and friends, sending cards to the family or wrapping gifts for all ask for help. Perhaps make the feast more potluck and the cards can be written and addressed by other members of the household? Working together can be memory-building in itself.
  4. Indulge with balance
    Tis the season of festive gatherings and indulgent eating. Nutritionally speaking, this is a tough time of year. We don’t want to give up delicious holiday dishes; however, we would rather not wreck our health through weeks of unhealthy eating. Fortunately, with a few modifications and a little moderation, we don’t have to do either. Check out registered dietitian Laurie Ledford’s suggestions here. Remember to take time to breathe and to take a walk after dinner or a hike with the family.
  5. Recognize and remember
    During holidays loss and estrangement can feel particularly hard. Terri Waldman, former director of the TMC Geropsychiatric Center, shared these wise words, “Your heart has no obligation to be jolly. Take the time to celebrate cherished memories but be open to new rituals. If you find you are having a hard time coping and can’t shake the sadness, though, don’t try to tough it out. It may be time to see a primary care physician.”
  6. Learn to say no
    Saying yes when you should say no can leave you resentful and overwhelmed. Friends and colleagues will understand if you can’t participate in every project or activity.
No matter whether your house will be full to the gills or quiet this holiday season, we hope the season is healthy and full of hope.
From our family to yours best wishes,
Mary Atkinson
Mary Atkinson is a registered dietitian and TMC’s Director of Wellness. You can find out more about the programs that the Wellness Department offers the Tucson Community here.

Deck the Halls Safely – with Safe Kids Coordinator Jessica Mitchell

Finally, the temperatures have cooled enough that there is the tiniest bite in the air that signals our desert winter. I love this time of year, surrounding myself with family and making memories for my children. In our house we’re putting up the tree, lighting candles and baking cookies. It smells like vanilla and pine and all things wintertime.

Of course, along with all the delights of the season there are some safety concerns:

  1. Candles
    Those pine-scented candles I love so much are a burn risk. I make sure to have them at least 12 inches from any flammable material, and because I have young children, out of their reach. When you leave a room you blow out any candles. I also have a set routine every night of checking to make sure I haven’t forgotten any candles.
  2. Decorations – Kid-friendly
    They’re shiny and glittery and just shout ‘Touch me!’ Watch out for baubles that break easily when you have young children around. Kids are curious and will want to play with the ornaments on the tree, so you might as well prepare. Move the ornaments that are breakable or have metal hooks towards the top of the tree. That makes room at the bottom for the ones that are safer for young kids.
  3. Lights – Cords
    Stringed lights mean extra cords. Make sure cords are taped down to reduce trip risks. Also, make sure that you’re not overburdening the sockets and creating a fire risk. Check that your lights are in good working condition with no frayed or exposed wires or loose bulb connections.
  4. Tree
    If your family brings a pine tree inside at this time of year there are a few things you can do to lower the risk of fire. Make sure you keep the tree watered on a daily basis so that the needles don’t dry out. Is your tree located at least several feet from any heat source, including heating vents and lights as well as candles and fireplaces? Always turn the lights off on the tree when you go to bed or leave the house. When the season is done make sure your tree is disposed off. A dried out tree on your property is a fire risk.
  5. Smoke alarms
    Make sure you have checked your smoke alarms recently and the batteries are working. If the alarms are more than 10 years old they’ve probably expired, and it’s time to replace them.

Have a happy, healthy and safe holiday season,


Jessica and family celebrating the holidays

Jessica Mitchell is the Safe Kids Pima County program coordinator. Safe Kids Pima County is a network of organizations whose mission is to prevent accidental childhood injury, a leading killer of children aged 19 and under.

Spearheaded by Tucson Medical Center, the local coalition is part of Safe Kids Worldwide, a global network of more than 600 coalitions in 23 countries bringing together health and safety experts, educators, corporations, foundations, governments and volunteers to educate and protect families.

 For more tips on keeping your family safe all year round

check out our website


A snack to hike with – Brenda’s Power Bites

Brenda's power bitesNeed a portable source of fuel for a long hike or bike ride? Want a trail snack that isn’t simply candy in disguise? Brenda’s Power Bites are your solution! Recipe courtesy of Brenda Andreasen, instructor for TMC Wellness.


3 c oats (regular or quick cooking)
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 c unsweetened flaked or shredded coconut (optional)
1/4 c roasted, salted sunflower seeds
2/3 c dried dates, finely chopped
2/3 c dried apricots, finely chopped
2/3 c dried cherries
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 c almond butter (or any nut butter)
1/2 c agave nectar (or honey)

Note:  Feel free to use any combination of dried fruit and nuts or seeds of your preference.


  1. In a large bowl, combine oats and cinnamon.
  2. Use a food processor to chop the sunflower seeds and coconut. Add to the dry ingredients.
  3. Combine dried fruits and vanilla extract in the bowl of the food processor. Coarsely chop the fruit. (The extract will aid the blades in the chopping process.) Add fruit to dry ingredients.
  4. Add nut butter and agave nectar to the rest of the mixture. Combine well until mixture begins to stick together.
  5. Form mixture into 1 inch balls.
  6. Place balls in an air-tight container, separating layers with wax paper.
  7. Refrigerate at least 4 hours or overnight to allow oats to absorb moisture.

Makes about 60  ½-ounce balls

Nutrition Information (per 2-bite serving)

Calories:  130
Total Fat:  6g
Saturated Fat:  1g
Protein:  3g
Potassium:  175mg
Sodium:  85mg
Carbohydrate:  16g
Fiber:  2.5g

TMC and Mobile Meals of Southern Arizona


Tucson Medical Center and Mobile Meals of Southern Arizona have a long-standing partnership that is delivering special friendship to isolated and homebound Arizonans.

For nearly 50 years, Mobile Meals has delivered nutritious, locally-prepared meals to elderly and disabled adults in Tucson and the greater area. The homegrown nonprofit supports the independence, health and dignity of homebound adults by providing home-delivered, special-diet meals each day.

Special effort providing special meals

“What makes Mobile Meals unique is we deliver meals that are specially prepared for each client’s specific nutritional needs,” said Tamara McKinney, executive director of Mobile Meals of Southern Arizona. “And they are delivered daily by volunteers who really care about our client’s health and well-being.”

The added challenge of delivering medically-tailored meals doesn’t discourage McKinney or the organization. “That’s when people need us most – 94 percent of our clients need a special diet,” she explained. “Our Mobile Meals dietitian works closely with each client’s medical provider to determine what specific diet is needed.”

A community working together

McKinney noted that Mobile Meals doesn’t happen without the support of local organizations. “TMC has been a key partner since Mobile Meals began in 1970, together we are helping our community’s most vulnerable adults maintain their health and independence.”

The specialized meals are prepared at TMC each day, explained Ruth Halter, TMC’s manager of food services and Mobile Meals board member. “Proper nutrition is key to maintaining health in general, but it becomes increasingly important when someone has a chronic medical condition such as heart disease, kidney disease or diabetes.”

Halter added that the meals have an indelible and positive effect. “Those receiving Mobile Meals are able to continue living at home – which is a benefit to our patients and the community as a whole.”

Volunteers make the difference

Like clockwork, a supervisor reviews the meals in the TMC Kitchen, ensuring each recipient receives the correct food. Volunteers soon arrive to pick-up and deliver.

“The delivery is the best part,” said Mobile Meals volunteer Bev Lundquist. “We sit, talk and get to know one another – I’m friends with every person I deliver to.”

The connection and friendships that are cultivated through mobile meals go a long way. “They’d be happy to see me even if I didn’t have any food,” Lundquist said. “It’s very fulfilling to know we are making a real difference in the lives of people in need – we get such a great sense of community.”

Improving health, enriching lives

McKinney explained the volunteers are very passionate, motivated by the challenges recipients are facing – including isolation.

“Many recipients live alone and really look forward to interacting with our volunteers,” she said. “The visits are more than meal delivery or social visits; for many of those isolated and medically fragile adults, the volunteers are making sure they’re safe.”

McKinney explained that a client fainted during a recent delivery visit. The volunteer was able to call 911 and get the client immediate medical attention. “Can you imagine what might have happened if our volunteer hadn’t been there? Many of our clients have outlived their friends and family, and our volunteers might be the only people they see in a week.”

Grateful for community partnership

“We are so thankful for the local support that makes our program possible and for our partnership with TMC,” said McKinney. “Our collaboration shows how we can bring together needed resources to protect our most vulnerable, and it inspires volunteerism to make a positive change for our whole community.”

To volunteer or donate to Mobile Meals of Southern Arizona, call (520) 622-1600 or email info@mobilemealsoftucson.org.



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