Social worker named Heart of Hospice for her work on behalf of patients, families, staff

After being hoodwinked into coming to a celebration she thought was for a colleague, Marybeth Racioppi was speechless when her name was announced last week as the Heart of Hospice for the first quarter. But she shouldn’t have been surprised that the recognition was for her.

“Marybeth is a true asset to our organization,” wrote one colleague in nominating the social worker. “She consistently partners with the nurses to take a team approach to patient care.”

A 14-year TMC Hospice veteran, Racioppi “works diligently to ensure that the patient’s and family’s spiritual, psychosocial and medical needs are all addressed,” the colleague said.

When asked about the secret to her success as a social worker, Racioppi said it boils down to assessing the needs not only for the patient, but for the entire family.

“I take a systemic view of families,” she said. “Everyone in the room has meaning, biases, beliefs and feelings. My challenge is to learn the dynamics and make them each feel supported.”

“Marybeth is so diligent in finding out pertinent information regarding patients and their families to be able to provide the best care for them all, making each one feel cared for in a special way at a difficult time,” wrote another nominator. “Using her wry, sometimes irreverent sense of humor, she gets to the heart of the matter and starts problem-solving.”

And it’s not only patients and families who get her support.

“She also serves as a rock solid support for all of us staffers here at Peppi’s House,” another colleague wrote. “She lets us unload and decompress, offering guidance if needed or requested. And her advice is always ‘spot on.’ ”

“Best of all,” this person wrote, “she teaches us to problem solve with her so that we grow as individuals and as an organization.”

As Heart of Hospice for the quarter, Racioppi’s name and photo goes onto a recognition plaque on the unit, she received a pin and gets a dedicated parking space until next quarter. 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.

Want to be part of a team that makes a difference?

Click to learn about volunteering for TMC Hospice Home Care.

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.”

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.

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.

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.

Help celebrate Physical Therapy month throughout October

EmilyBurdettePhysical therapists work hard to help patients improve their range of motion, strength and flexibility so they can lead their most active lives and obtain better outcomes.

National Physical Therapy month is held each October and Tucson Medical Center would like to take this time to recognize the impact of our therapists. A big thank you is in order for the 14 physical therapists and six physical therapy assistants in adult acute therapies, as well as the 11 therapists in pediatric therapies.

It’s also an opportunity to highlight the achievement of those therapists that have worked towards their advanced certifications.

According to the American Board of Physical Therapy Specialists, certification was established to:

  • recognize physical therapists with advanced clinical knowledge, experience, and skills in a special area of practice
  • assist consumers and health care community in identifying physical therapists who have advanced skills
  • address a specific area of patient need

Certification takes a great deal of work: Therapists must have extensive background in their specialty area including direct clinical hours and passing a board exam.  In order to maintain the certification, therapists must retake the exam and participate in professional development activities including service to the profession, teaching, and participation in research studies.

We caught up with Emily Burdette, who recently earned her certification, to learn more about the effort.

Why did you pursue this certification?

I wanted to pursue the designation of board-certified clinical specialist in pediatric physical therapy in order to demonstrate my commitment to the profession of pediatric physical therapy as well as my patients. I wanted to set myself apart as a clinician who is considered to have advanced clinical skills in pediatric physical therapy.

I pursued this certification as a commitment to further the profession of pediatric physical therapy. In order to become re-certified as a pediatric certified specialist, I must be active in the profession of pediatric physical therapy by attending continuing education courses, teaching physical therapy students during their clinical internships, participating in research projects, and becoming a mentor to other pediatric physical therapists.

Lastly, I wanted to pursue this certification to continue my commitment for life-long learning as a pediatric physical therapist. It is a personal commitment of mine as well as the other therapists working at Tucson Medical Center Pediatric Therapies to stay as up-to-date as possible on all research regarding the treatment of children. We all pride ourselves on the emphasis Tucson Medical Center Pediatric Therapies has on evidence-based practice.

How rigorous was the process? 

I studied every day for nine months for about 2-3 hours per day. I was busy reviewing various diagnoses that are seen by pediatric physical therapists in different areas of practice. I also reviewed research papers from the Pediatric Physical Therapy Journal and Physical Therapy Journal and took continuing education courses for diagnoses that I am not as familiar with. The actual test for certification was 6 hours long and 200 questions.

Was it worth it? 

It was worth the sacrifice so that I could provide the best evidence-based care to my patients. It helped me to review treatment of pediatric diagnoses I am familiar with as well as learn about the treatment of diagnoses I am not as familiar with. I believe that all of the studying and reviewing of research articles has made me a better, more knowledgeable pediatric physical therapist!​

Tucson Medical Center honored with five top Readers’ Choice awards

2017 Readers' Choice Win OutLNTucson Medical Center has been named “Best Hospital” in the Arizona Daily Star’s 2017 Readers’ choice awards.

TMC also was recognized for having the best women’s center, best emergency department, best pediatric emergency department and best surgical weight loss center.

“TMC has had the privilege of serving as this region’s nonprofit, locally governed community hospital for more than 70 years,” said Judy Rich, president and CEO. “This recognition is an honor – not only because it comes from the community, but because it recognizes the work that our staff and volunteers do every day to care for those who need us.”

The Readers’ Choice awards, which launched in 2015, give the Tucson community an opportunity to vote for their favorite organizations across a variety of categories, from restaurants to shopping and home service.

Click here to see the complete list of health care winners. Search “Readers’ Choice” for other categories.

TMC salutes Walker Elementary teacher on Legendary Teachers Day for infusing wellness into her school

LegendaryTeacherMonicaBermudez.jpgA few years ago, elementary school teacher Monica Bermudez had seen one too many students pull out tortilla chips or candy for their snacks – or worse, lunch.

So she started a “Fitness Fanatics” group at her school, volunteering after school to teach as many as 95 students at a time about wellness. It’s become something of the go-to club ever since.

On Legendary Teacher Day – a day set aside to honor special teachers who make a difference – TMC celebrates Bermudez, who has been teaching for 33 years and is currently teaching second grade.

Fitness Fanatics was her own brainchild. The students earn charms for every mile they run, participate in stretching exercises and play games that keep them active. The program is open to parents and teachers, too, to broaden relationships and opportunities for wellness at the same time.

There is also a nutrition component when funding allows, teaching students how to make nutritious snacks at home – from trail mix using cereal, raisins and nuts, to a fruit salad or banana sushi, which is essentially a banana rolled in Nutella and sliced. “I wanted to use things that they can find in their cabinets at home so they can make better choices,” said the 55-year-old Bermudez.

Bermudez doesn’t stop there.

MonicaGOTR.jpgShe coaches Girls on the Run, a youth development program that teaches life skills and culminates in a 5k run to build confidence and a sense of accomplishment.

She also volunteers with Fit Kidz, a program of the Southern Arizona Roadrunners that offers free one mile races for elementary school children.

In part, Bermudez does it because she’s become a disciple herself. Although she ran in middle school, she didn’t start running again until about seven years ago, trying to find more balance and take better care of herself. “It was my release,” she said of those early forays into running.

The next thing she knew, she was running with her daughters, and then signing up for races, and then joining a running group. She’s since started triathlons and offroad running, and is doing a half Ironman next month.

“It just took on a life of its own,” she said, noting she’s noticed a significant difference in her own health. “I used to be sick year-round, starting the second week of school and I wouldn’t be well again until the week after school was out. I wasn’t sick one time last year.”

But what keeps her going is what she sees from the kids. Inevitably, the shy girls start running and by the end of the semester they’re raising their hand in class and contributing with confidence. Several of her students have made a pact not to sit during recess, but instead, will either walk or run around the playground.

“And parents come and say, ‘Please keep doing what you’re doing because my child used to go to snack aisle at the grocery store first thing, and now they’re actually picking out fruits and vegetables from the outside aisles first.’ “

Nicholas Clement, the former Flowing Wells Superintendent and founder of Legendary Teacher Day, applauded Bermudez’ work. “Monica earned her Legendary Teacher stripes by energizing, engaging and enlightening every student every day.”

TMC encourages the entire business community to take time today to celebrate a Legendary Teacher who is making a difference in our future.

For more information about Legendary Teacher Day, which is always commemorated on the fourth Thursday of September, please visit  www.legendaryteacher.com. You may also share tributes of your own Legendary Teachers on Facebook as well.

 

Preparing for childbirth – Katie chose TMC

Katie and Goldie KeatingKatie Keating can run a marathon, 26.2 miles, in 3 hours and 3 minutes. During graduate school she investigated what the universe is made of, literally! Her studies centered on the interactions among galaxies. So, when it came to having a baby, Katie applied the same level of dedication and effort to preparation as she did to her running and academic studies.

Katie ran during the first two trimesters of her pregnancy preparing herself physically.

“After that I walked a few miles per day up until the end. Everyone’s experience is definitely different though,” she says. “I would recommend doing what feels best to you.”

Katie and her husband, Jared, toured the TMC Mom/Baby unit, and took the weekender Preparation for Childbirth, Baby Care ABC and Breastfeeding Basics classes.

”The classes definitely helped me feel more in control, since I understood a lot more of everything that was happening around me. It was also helpful that when there were choices to make during labor, I had already thought about them ahead of time and was prepared, rather than having to make decisions in the heat of the moment when I was in a lot of pain.”

 From healthy pregnancy and VBAC classes to breastfeeding and newborn care we’ve got you covered.  Sign up for a class today

On Jan. 9, 2016, Katie and Jared welcomed their daughter Goldie to the world at TMC. Six weeks after Goldie’s birth Katie was back running. “That is just what worked for me,” she says. “ I don’t think there’s anything wrong with waiting longer to exercise, you are going through so much as a new mom that I think you should only exercise if it’s helpful to you mentally and physically. Sometimes you need a nap, sometimes you need a run.”

Interested in developing or maintaining your exercise routine while pregnant?
The Core at La Encantada offers seminars including those on exercise and pregnancy.

Katie, Jared and Goldie are expecting another addition to the Keating family in 2018. Katie reports she is able to run more than she did last time. “I feel pretty lucky it’s worked out that way this time.”

See Katie, Goldie and other TMC moms and babies in our latest video!

Could you be a friend for a senior?

SeniorHomeVisitsThere are seniors in your area who are waiting for a visit right now.

In just an hour each week, you could make a difference in the life of an older adult.

Senior Home Visit volunteers provide a friendly face and supportive listening to older adults who may not see anyone else during the week.

Volunteers can make a positive difference in the lives of others, particularly for those who are socially isolated, since loneliness can lead to depression and worsening health conditions.

If you are 50+ and are interested in volunteering, please contact Anne Morrison at 324-3746 or anne.morrison@tmcaz.com to find out more.

Deep Vein Thrombosis: What You Need to Know about DVT

Deep vein thrombosisIf you’ve spent much time flying you’ve probably heard suggestions to avoid developing deep vein thrombosis, “Get up! Walk around. Do some squats.” But what is deep vein thrombosis? If you never fly do you have nothing to worry about? And how do we test and treat DVT?

What is Deep Vein Thrombosis?

DVT occurs when a blood clot develops in a deep vein in the body, usually in the legs.

Think of a blood clot as a traffic jam: the torrent of vehicles trying to get out of the area make it nearly impossible for other cars to come in. The blood clot usually forms on the valves of a deep vein and creates an obstruction to the outflow of blood. This creates swelling, redness and pain.

“Deep venous thrombosis is a serious condition that needs immediate attention,” said Dr. Layla Lucas, a vascular surgeon and endovascular specialist at Saguaro Surgical.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and prevention, as many as 900,000 Americans are diagnosed with DVT annually.

Risk factors for DVT

Although blood clots have an increased prevalence with age, many assume clots only happen to older adults. However, the challenges can appear across the age spectrum from teens to seniors.

At some point in our lives, we have all been at risk of developing a DVT or subsequent pulmonary embolism. A pulmonary embolism most commonly results from a blood clot that migrates through the heart into the arteries of the lung.  It can be life-threatening if untreated.

The Cleveland Clinic Center for Continuing Education cites PE as the third most common cardiovascular illness after acute coronary syndrome and stroke.

It is important to recognize these risks in order to prevent this risk of DVT:

  • Frequent travel (long flights or car rides)
  • People who are immobilized
  • Major surgery or trauma
  • Past history of DVT
  • Pregnancy
  • Women taking oral birth-control
  • Obesity
  • Cancer
  • Autoimmune disorders such as lupus

What are the symptoms?

The symptoms of DVT can range from:

  • Minor pain and swelling to significantly swollen legs and arms
  • Changes in skin color (redness)
  • Leg pain
  • Leg swelling (edema)
  • Skin that feels warm to the touch

If the blood clot breaks off and moves through the bloodstream it can get stuck in the blood vessels of the lungs to form a pulmonary embolism.

Symptoms of a pulmonary embolism:

  • Chest pain
  • Coughing up blood
  • Light headedness
  • Sudden shortness of breath

How will your doctor test for DVT?

Your doctor will perform a physical exam and

  1. A blood test called a D-dimer is a fast way to test for evidence of a blood clot.
  2. Duplex ultrasound. TMC uses duplex ultrasound imaging to evaluate for DVT. Duplex ultrasound combines both traditional and Doppler ultrasound. The Doppler ultrasound creates a picture of the venous blood flow and can identify which vein the clot has developed in and how extensive it is.

What to expect when having a duplex ultrasound exam?

PE is best diagnosed with a CT scan of the chest. Certain high-risk patients may get another test called a V/Q scan.

How we treat DVT and PE

With a problem this prevalent, TMC has developed one of the busiest programs in the nation for minimally invasive DVT and PE interventions.

DVT is easier to treat the earlier it is caught. Patients are started on blood thinners right away. If the DVT is extensive and the symptoms are severe, they’re evaluated for intervention and clot removal.

DVT can typically be fixed during one or two treatments.

Dr. Lucas explained the treatment advancements are put to best use. “As vascular surgeons, we see the consequences of untreated DVT and PE and therefore are aggressive in our management of these conditions.”

To find out more about vascular exams and procedures at TMC please visit our website.

Dr. Layla Lucas

Dr. Layla Lucas of Saguaro Surgical is board-certified in General Surgery and Vascular/ Endovascular Surgery. Dr. Lucas has a special interest in wound healing, limb salvage, stroke prevention and treatment of aneurysmal disease. She has been trained in a wide variety of minimally invasive endovascular techniques, as well as traditional open procedures in order to treat the full spectrum of vascular diseases.

TMC honors 50-year employee at annual employee recognition event

BDP42971.jpgNancy Spiller left home at 17, just out of high school, armed with little more than her diploma and some experience working as a volunteer candy striper.

She landed her first job at Tucson Medical Center – and now, 50 years after she was hired into the business office that day, she’s still coming to work every morning to the same place.

“Fifty is a big year – it’s very special to me,” said Spiller, who has worked eight different jobs during her tenure, most recently serving as clerical support in pediatric therapies.

Spiller will be celebrated at TMC’s annual Service Pin ceremony, which honors employees at every five-year milestone of their careers.

There are 467 honorees this year, including 18 people with upwards of 40 years of service. Spiller is one of two employees with the longest running length of service.

Aside from the fact she needed a job, Spiller wanted to help people, which is why she served as a candy striper. When she was in the fourth grade, her mother died, which in retrospect, she said, might have fueled her interest in health care.

Spiller came to TMC two months after the arrival of Don Shropshire, a beloved and iconic leader who served 25 years as TMC’s CEO.

She remembers being so naïve that her colleagues teased her routinely. One afternoon, they told her Mr. Shropshire was holding on the phone for her. She chided them, saying she knew they were making up stories. After much back and forth, an exasperated Spiller went to the phone.

“Who was on the other end? Mr. Shropshire. He was going on a business trip out of town and I was the only person with the combination to get into the safe for business travel. I was never so embarrassed,” she recalled.

NancySpillerCelebrates50YearsTMC was a very different place then; small compared to today’s campus. A cart that wheeled from room to room served as the gift shop.  Vending machines, not a cafeteria, stocked food. Laboring mothers were just screened off from one another with privacy curtains. Calls came in on old operator switchboards.

Five of her closest friends came from TMC – one of whom she’s known since she started 50 years ago.

“We’ve been through marriages and divorces and births and sickness and death and baptisms – you name it,” she said. “We’ve been through it all.”

Spiller remembered the hospital rallying around her when she had her first child, Steven, who was born with a heart condition and required complex surgery. Mr. Shropshire sent a card. The staff raised money through a bake sale. “It wasn’t just coming to do work here – it was like a family rallying around to help,” she recalled. “If I had to do all of it on my own, I’m not sure I could have made it.”

Steven lived to the age of 24. His younger brother Matthew is now a newlywed.

Both were born at TMC.

Spiller initially meant to retire at her 45th milestone, but here she is, still, 5 years later.

In part, it’s because the work is rewarding. She mists up telling of one boy with autism who came in speaking very little, if at all, and who now tells her all about his day.

“I think it’s wonderful what TMC does in the community,” she said.

“I have gone home in tears because of these kids and what we’re able to do for them. If I can make a difference for just one person, that means a lot to me. I wouldn’t still be here if I didn’t think I still had that ability.”

TMC Jobs link

 

‘Popcorn Kid’ retiring after singlehandedly raising $51k for kids through sales

DOROTHYLongtime employee, Dorothy “Popcorn Kid” Lietha, who is retiring after 43 years, made a difference kernel by kernel.

Lietha, who has worked a variety of jobs but most recently was part of the Wellness department’s efforts in the employee gym, is probably best known for her commitment to the children of Southern Arizona.

Since the early days of TMC’s relationship with Children’s Miracle Network, Lietha has sold popcorn — first for 25 cents a bag, and now 50 cents. Those quarters have added up. The TMC Foundation estimates that she has raised more than $51,000 to benefit area children.

“Dorothy embodies the spirit of this organization because of her generosity and her deep love of this community,” said Michael Duran, vice president and chief development officer. “We can each make a profound difference just by leveraging our individual strengths and passions – and for that, Dorothy is an inspiration.”

If you’d like to honor Dorothy and her commitment to children, consider making an online gift in her name for Children’s Services via the TMC Foundation.

Tour Tucson Medical Center’s Healing Art Collection

Bonuccelli_Dusk Carcassonne FranceTucson Medical Center has long believed in the power of surroundings in helping patients feel better.

It’s why we have 35 patios. It’s why our grounds crew cultivates a desert landscape. And it’s why we have a Healing Art Program to inspire, provoke thought, and cheer patients and visitors.

Since the program’s inception in 2014, TMC now has more than 700 gallery-quality art pieces throughout its hallways – from paintings to graphics, photography and sculpture. Each piece has been vetted to ensure quality and consistency with TMC’s healing mission.

TMC’s curator, Lauren Rabb, leads a regular tour of the Healing Art collection on campus.

“The walls of our hospital have been transformed, with more art and photography installed each month to enrich the lives of our patients, visitors and staff,” Rabb said. “But as a community hospital, we also believe it is important to share these gifts with the community – and especially since art draws its power from its stories, its imagination and its engagement.”

The tour covers one mile of hallway – with frequent stops to discuss specific works of art – and is recommended for those over the age of 12.

The next public tour is taking place Monday, August 28 at 10 a.m., with another following on Monday, Sept. 25 at 10 a.m.

Space is limited so please RSVP for instructions on where to meet at 520-444-0363 or lrauthor@cox.net.

For those who are interested in the art, but not the tour, the works may be found on our catalog at https://www.artworkarchive.com/artwork/tmc-healing-art-program

TMC celebrates pets in three September events

Pets can be part of a healthy lifestyle, from lowering blood pressure to reducing stress and encouraging owners to move more.

With the last week of September National Dog Week, TMC is going to the dogs (and cats) in three separate pet-friendly events at The Core at La Encantada.

  • Think your pup has what it takes to be a therapy dog to help cheer up patients, visitors and staff in the hospital? Come find out how to join TMC’s Pet Therapy team and – with the help of Pet Partners of Southern Arizona – learn the ins and outs of getting certified on Saturday, Sept. 2 at 10 a.m. Click here to register.
  • If you have a pet, you’ve probably at some point contemplated whether pet food, pet toys and cleaning products are OK for the environment. Come learn about environmentally friendly pet care with Mrs. Green’s World on Sunday, Sept. 24 at 2 p.m. Click here to register.
  • Pima Animal Care Center has thousands of pets each year (like PACC alumni Chester shown here) looking for a new home – and new exercise buddies. Join Care Center staff in learning more about how to exercise safely with your pet on Wednesday, Sept. 27 at 5:30 p.m. Click here to register.

Pets are welcome at these three events. Find out more by visiting The Core at La Encantada.

TMC helped support conversion of multipurpose space for homeless youth

YOTOpaintingYouth on Their Own, a nonprofit dropout prevention agency supporting homeless youth in their goals of graduating from high school, did not have a functional space to hold youth events, host Board meetings or engage donors in providing critical services for vulnerable youth.

That all changed earlier this spring.

A new multipurpose room, adjacent to the program’s resale store at 1660 N. Alvernon Way, was the culminating project of Greater Tucson Leadership, a nonprofit program designed to develop future community leaders.

Tucson Medical Center was proud to join other local businesses in providing funding and support for the 880-square foot renovation project. Other donors included Tucson Electric Power, Cenpatico, Vantage West Credit Union, BeachFleischman CPAs, architect Kim Wolfarth, Porter Construction Services, Aztec Flooring, Universal Wallboard, Gilbert Electric, Mesquite Valley Growers and Goodwill Industries. Additionally, nearly 100 individuals contributed resources – and sweat equity – to the project.

Shawn.jpgIn addition to financial support, TMC lent the skills of Construction Supervisor Shawn Cole as project manager. Cole has known of the organization’s work for a long time and appreciates the help it provides.

“It’s very rewarding to give back to an organization that gives to so many and serves such a critical need,” Cole said. “It’s tough enough growing up and that’s compounded when kids are homeless and trying to stay in school. It was nice to be able to support that effort – and especially given the importance of the work that’s done there.”

Nicola Hartmann, the CEO of Youth on Their Own, said the space is getting a lot of use. Recently, staff held a summer “cool off party” for youth, with games, pizza and ice cream, as well as assistance with school work and college preparation.

“The youth who stopped in loved it. We would never have been able to do this without the fabulous space that was created for precisely these kinds of events.”

Kasey Hill, executive director of Greater Tucson Leadership, said the project epitomizes the goals of the program.

“At its root, leadership is about identifying a need and galvanizing the community to make a difference through collective energy, focus and commitment,” she said. “The community response to this project really highlights Tucson’s strengths – we come together when there is a need.”

Eclipse watchers: Follow these tips to protect your eyes

EclipseGlassesIf you’re planning to watch the solar eclipse on Monday, Aug. 21, do it safely.

Don’t look directly into the sun without eye protection – and sunglasses alone won’t do it. Those are some of the safety tips you’ll see in a short video from @MayoClinic to protect your eyes.

As a member of the Mayo Clinic Care Network, Tucson Medical Center works directly with Mayo Clinic, which again was named the top hospital in the country by U.S. News & World Reports.

The foundation of our relationship with Mayo Clinic is a shared commitment to improving the delivery of health care through high-quality, data-driven, evidence-based medical care. Our care network membership allows TMC access to the knowledge and expertise of Mayo Clinic to enhance the care we provide locally and save our patients unnecessary travel.

Tucson will see the eclipse as a partial solar eclipse – about 60 percent. It will start after 9 a.m. and end about noon. The Flandrau Science Center & Planetarium reports there will not be another total solar eclipse visible from the continental United States until 2024 – so happy watching, but take precautions!

Admissions nurse named ‘Heart of Hospice’

Karen Novak, R.N., sitting, with (l-r) interim director Kimberley Fore, manager Stephanie Carter and medical director Larry Lincoln

Karen Novak, R.N., with TMC Outpatient Hospice, was honored this morning at a quarterly recognition selected by her colleagues as the “Heart of Hospice.”

Novak, who has been with Tucson Medical Center for more than 20 years, is the TMC Hospice liasion for the hospital. As a TMC Hospice admissions nurse, she works closely with the Palliative Care Team and Case Management as well as with patients and families who are dealing with potential end-of-life issues.

“Karen helps to aid in transitioning patients smoothly between the hospital and Hospice,” according to her nomination. “Her bedside manner is impeccable. She has a way of speaking with patients and family members that allow them to feel that they are both being understood in what they want and cared for in a compassionate way that embodies the mission of Hospice.”

Novak learned her skills in a variety of settings, including in the Emergency Department when it included truma care, and Case Management. She works with patients of all ages, including pediatric cases.

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 hospice nurse made a difference to you or your family? Consider recognizing this extraordinary nurse with a DAISY Award nomination.

Community hospital works to reduce opioid use after surgery

PillsInHand_444966868 (002)Even as Gov. Ducey declared a public health state of emergency regarding the misuse and abuse of opioids, physicians practicing at Tucson Medical Center were already working to minimize the use of opioids for patients recovering from surgery.

Physicians have several opportunities to manage the use of narcotics, particularly important as patients leave the hospital with a plan for pain management during recovery.

Anesthesiologists from Old Pueblo Anesthesia, who practice at TMC, have been working to enhance their regional anesthesia program to provide additional options for patients.  If patients can keep opioid use to a minimum in those crucial first days after surgery, while reducing their pain and inflammation, the hope is that they can use fewer narcotics through their recovery period.

Shoulder surgery, for example, is notoriously uncomfortable for some patients because the shoulder is engaged when a patient is standing or when laying down. Traditional anesthesia only lasts about 24 hours.

Now, in addition to direct injections to numb the area and block pain during surgery, physicians can place tiny catheters near the nerves that supply the shoulder with a local anesthetic to provide greater comfort for up to 3 days. The patient can care for the pump at home and throw it away when the anesthesia is depleted.

Dr. Robin Kloth said that Old Pueblo performed a comparison of patients with total shoulder replacement who used traditional pain relief and those who used interscalene catheter placement. “Over the course of the full 3 days, the catheter patients took less than half the narcotics that our compared group took in just a single day,” she said, adding patients also reported far less nausea.

Dr. Neesann Marietta concurred. “These techniques can really extend a patient’s pain relief, which greatly increases patient satisfaction. They can go home and sleep comfortably, which is so important for the healing process.”

And that’s just one example. For abdominal surgery, patients relied previously on epidurals that could only be used during their hospital stay. Now, anesthesiologists can do a block that provides local relief in the abdominal wall that will last up to 24 hours, and patients may be sent home the same day.

Colorectal and gyn-oncology surgeons are increasingly using a slow release local anesthetic that lasts up to 72 hours.

The colorectal program reports that between greater patient education, early ambulation and regional anesthesia, patients are seeing a decrease in patient length of stay by 1.3 days and an 88 percent decrease in morphine equivalent, given in the first 24 hours post-surgery.

“Both doctors and patients are becoming increasingly aware of the potential for the misuse of highly addictive pain medications and it’s important that we be part of this national discussion,” said surgical oncologist Michele Boyce Ley, who uses regional anesthesia as well as nonsteroidal medications such as Celebrex and gabapentin to help control pain for her patients having breast surgery.

Ley said her patients are doing so well, many are managing post-surgical pain with little more than Tylenol or ibuprofen.

“We have been working on this in earnest and getting training on these techniques because of concerns about opioid usage,” Kloth said. “Opioids have been the go-to solution for many years, in part because patients had high expectations of pain relief and because a bottle of Percocet is really cheap. These techniques are more labor intensive, but we’ve demonstrated value to the patient – and it’s the right thing to do,” she said.

Many patients also feel less lucid and less awake when using narcotics, which could delay physical therapy and rehabilitation.

Marietta said the techniques are not right for every patient and every case, but patients who are concerned about the potential for opioid misuse should have a conversation with their physician about pain control – and see if a nerve block would be appropriate.

 

 

TMC encourages community members to be cautious in sharing information to avoid phone scams

MagnifierHand_221068210 (002).jpgWith local utilities recently warning customers of apparent phone scams in which payment is demanded over the phone, Tucson Medical Center is urging community members to be cautious in responding to such inquiries.

TMC does have conversations over the phone with patients about payments and we will accept payment over the phone as well.

What we won’t do is make threatening, high-pressure phone calls.

If something doesn’t sound right, ask the caller for their name and their phone number. Keep it as a reference but know that scammers have access to ID spoofing software that can disguise phone calls to appear that they are made from a reputable organization.

Instead, call Tucson Medical Center directly and ask the operator for the Business Office or call us directly at 324-1310.

A legitimate representative from TMC will be able to share information about the previous or anticipated hospital stay, including the date and procedure.

“If something sounds suspicious, honor that instinct,” said Maria Persons, the director of TMC’s billing office. “We will always understand and support your choice to be safe and to be extra diligent if someone asks you to share sensitive information over the phone.”

TMC also has a secure way for patients to pay their hospital bill online. To see TMC’s other mechanisms, please visit https://www.tmcaz.com/pay-my-bill

 

Lovell Foundation, Community Foundation for Southern Arizona partner to award nearly $3 million for end-of-life care and planning services

Conversation

The year leading up to death for those with chronic conditions can be emotionally difficult and stressful for patients and families. It’s also costly, with patients in that final year accounting for 25 percent of total Medicare spending on beneficiaries over the age of 65.

There has to be a better way.

The David and Lura Lovell Foundation and the Community Foundation for Southern Arizona in late July announced their alliance to award almost $3 million to Arizona nonprofits to cooperatively address issues related to the awareness, understanding, and availability of end-of-life care, particularly for underserved and vulnerable communities.

Tucson Medical Center Foundation is pleased to be part of that coalition, which represents one of the largest end-of-life care initiatives across the country.

It also builds on four years of focused effort at TMC on improving care for those with life-limiting illness.

“Breaking down taboos about mortality is the first step in empowering patients and their families to have conversations that provide an opportunity to share their values, priorities and beliefs about death,” said Michael Duran, TMC’s chief development officer. “Having a clear road map about what you want from health care providers to how you want to be memorialized is a gift to yourself and to your family because it reduces the guessing and power struggles that can arise in the absence of that certainty.”

TMC has engaged case management, Hospice and Senior Services teams, and two accountable care organizations, Arizona Connected Care and Abacus Health, in the effort to improve advance care planning for adults and their caregivers throughout the community. The grant will provide resources to primary care practices and hospital case management to assist patients in making more informed decisions.

Karen Popp, the director of care coordination for Arizona Connected Care, said the coalition may ultimately serve as a national model for those assisting patients with their choices at the end of life. “What is particularly profound about this collaboration is that we have an opportunity across an entire region to create positive change around the ability of patients to honor the quality of life they expect as they face the end of their lives.”

The Lovell Foundation awarded a total of $2,507,619 for end-of-life care and planning projects. CFSA grants total $390,000. Grants range from $20,000 to $1 million to support end-of-life care programs that engage the community, educate professionals and patients, institute organizational and community standards of practice, develop the healthcare workforce and impact public policy.

“Our collective goal is to fundamentally change the narrative on how we plan for, care for and experience death and dying in Southern Arizona and beyond,” said John Amoroso, executive director of the Lovell Foundation. “Ultimately we all – individuals, families, caregivers, health systems and communities – bear the responsibility for changing the status quo by helping each other to engage in compassionate, honest conversations about our mortality, the type of healthcare we wish to receive and how it is given across the spectrum of life choices.”

This year’s grants were awarded to the following organizations:

The Lovell Foundation shared this interest in end-of-life care and previously funded “Passing On,” an award-winning documentary produced by Arizona Public Media and broadcast nationally by PBS, and other projects.

“We did a community-wide scan on end-of-life issues. We discovered this group of dedicated organizations and individuals that had been working together with support from CFSA funding. That kind of energy and potential emboldened the Lovell Foundation to expand our commitment to end-of-life care and make an even bigger investment,” said Ann Lovell, president of the family foundation and daughter of its founders.

 

Voting begins next week in the City of Tucson’s primary election

 Candidate Forum

A big thank you is in order to the four candidates running for a seat in the Ward 3 City Council race, who appeared at a candidate forum Tuesday night at Tucson Medical Center, sponsored by the Arizona Daily Star and the Tucson Hispanic Chamber of Commerce.

“The foundation for democracy is an engaged and educated electorate,” said Julia Strange, vice president of community benefit for TMC. “We appreciate everyone who came out to learn more about the candidates – and importantly, we thank each of the candidates for stepping up and running for office.”

The winner among the three candidates vying for the Ward 3 Democratic primary – Thomas Tronsdal, Paul Durham and Felicia Chew – will face Gary Watson, an independent, in the general election. The winner will assume the seat currently held by City Councilwoman Karin Uhlich, who is retiring from the Council.

In addition to Ward 3, the Green Party has a contested primary race in Ward 6.

Ballots will be mailed Aug. 9 to registered voters.

 

TMC thanks, congratulates teacher in residence at close of program

Sheila at TMCCongratulations to Sheila Marquez, an anatomy teacher at Tucson High Magnet School, who finished her third summer working at Tucson Medical Center as part of the business-education partnership known as Teachers in Industry.

The program allows businesses to gain valuable perspectives by employing teachers over the summer, and allows teachers a chance to see firsthand the kind of skills students need to be effective in future careers.

“I’ve been a teacher and a research assistant for the entirety of my career – I’ve never worked outside of the academic realm,”  said Marquez, who has taught high school students for nearly 20 year. “This has been very valuable to learn about the breadth of careers available in health care as students consider their future possible selves.”

Marquez spent her first year at TMC working in infection prevention, her second year working in the lab, and her third year – the culminating year of the program – working in pharmacy.

After her first summer, she implemented a change in her classroom, emulating the one-on-one meetings her manager at TMC held with staff members. “I went back and did one-on-one meetings with each of my students in the first two weeks of class,” she said. “It made a world of difference: Instead of waiting at the end to tell them if they were in trouble with their grades or attendance, we had a chance to be proactive and talk about what might have kept them from being successful in earlier classes and what I could do to help support them.”

Marquez also learned about Lean management processes, which originated in manufacturing but are being used at TMC to empower employees to become problem solvers and to build efficiencies. Some of the problem-solving techniques can be applicable in a science-based classroom, she said.

She said businesses ultimately need students who don’t just regurgitate information, but are critical thinkers and can collaborate successfully with others. “It’s not just about knowing where the tibia is. It’s about having the tools to come up with successful solutions.”

“This has been an invaluable experience,” she said, encouraging other industries to participate in the program.

It has been a positive collaboration for TMC as well, said Pharmacy Technician Manager Sue Weygint.

Weygint credited Marquez with shadowing pharmacy technicians to learn about their processes and workflow, creating Excel spreadsheets and graphs that allowed data mining. “We can now see trends, anomalies and the overall work balance across shifts,” Weygint said, noting the goal is to increase productivity and level the workload.

“We have already made some adjustments with her help and we’re on a path to stronger metrics of productivity and efficiency,” Weygint said.

Master teachers in the program, including Marquez, will be celebrated on Sept. 12 from 5 p.m. -7 p.m. at Tucson Electric Power. For more information about the program, please visit www.teachersinindustry.arizona.edu

TMC employee turns hardship into inspiration

Donatian Mahanga TMC 2At the age of 10, Donatian Mahanga became a refugee in the Congo, introduced to the overwhelming challenges of intense poverty, starvation, disease and political strife.

There was a constant shortage of food and medicine. “We buried people every day because of starvation,” he said. Of his 32 aunts, only three survived.

That incredible story of survival fueled a positive mindset and a deep passion to help others.

“People ask me why I am always smiling,” said Mahanga, who works in environmental services at Tucson Medical Center. “It is one of the ways I heal my heart.”

United Way Champions 2017 Donatian MahangaMahanga, who recently served as a champion in TMC’s United Way campaign, also finds healing in giving to others after being affected by more than 20 years of moving between refugee camps in the Congo and Uganda.

War and deprived living conditions claimed six of his 12 siblings. The harrowing experiences were made worse when he was abandoned by his parents at age 13, leaving he and his remaining siblings to fend for food and clothes.

Mahanga was surrounded by a terrible situation that he felt was consuming a generation of young Africans. He wanted to improve living conditions – but not just for him, for his community.

“So many people were suffering at zero. There was no hope at all – I wanted to create a change,” he said. Mahanga took part in organizing a group of young men called COBURWAS International Youth Organization to Transform Africa (CIYOTA). What is COBURWAS? The founders took letters from the names of the countries that refugees traveled from: Congo, Burundi, Rwanda and Sudan.

Donatian Mahanga CIYOTA 3Their first step was to raise funds and learn craftsmanship. Mahanga, himself, helped build a school in the refugee camp. “Without education, nothing will do!”

He brought the diverse group of refugees together, and taught himself eight languages in the process. “If you want to help someone, speaking in their language will put them at ease.” He helped many express their grief through performance and song, a method he still uses to engage refugee communities in Tucson.

Mahanga and his friends even reached out to sources in the United States to provide medicine and mosquito nets to treat and stop Malaria, which claims so many lives in the refugee area.

CIYOTA also advocated for women’s rights and encouraged young women to obtain an education, a rare pursuit for women in refugee settlements.

Donatian Mahanga CIYOTA 2After 12 years in operation, CIYOTA has grown into an international, volunteer-based non-profit, that is now organized in the U.S.

Mahanga is glad to see the school he built become a large and prosperous education center. “My number one goal is always to help people,” he said.

In August of 2016, Mahanga came to America with his wife and five children. A temporary staffing agency helped him get a job with TMC and his position soon became permanent.

“TMC is the right place for me –the workers treat each other and the patients with such compassion,” Mahanga explained. “They really show humanity – always working to help others.”

A friend from Uganda reached out to Mahanga to say good bye because he could not afford a life-saving surgery. He was touched when his coworkers raised the needed funds.

TMC monument signHe has already begun helping others, donating his time to help other refugees find work and acclimate to life in the United States. “Change is a part of life, but everyone should feel proud of who they are.”

“Donatian’s love for humanity is visible from the moment you meet him,” said Beth Dorsey, the director of food, nutrition and environmental services at TMC. “His compassion for others truly shows in all he does at TMC and for the community.”

Mahanga is proud to work at TMC and proud of the difference he’s making in the community. Most of all, he enjoys spending time with his wife and children, ages 2 through 10. “The secret to happiness is being content with what you have.”

 

 

Food-safe grilling and picnicking

Food grilling safety tipsFor heat-tolerant Arizonans, and for those visiting slightly cooler destinations, summer is a time for picnics and cookouts. Unfortunately, it can also be a prime time for foodborne illness (“food poisoning”) to hit. Although warm summer temperatures may make humans feel sluggish, bacteria are undeterred. In fact, most harmful bacteria reproduce faster at temperatures of 90° to 100° F. That’s a good reason to be cautious, but there’s no need to give up al fresco dining. You can still have an enjoyable outing by following a few simple food safety guidelines:

Food Safety Basics: Clean,  Separate, Cook, Chill

  1. Clean your hands and anything that is going to touch the food – cutting boards, utensils, cookware and other surfaces. The best cleanser is soap and warm water. However, if they are not available, you can use alcohol-based hand sanitizer on your hands. Wipe or rinse off any dirt or grease before applying the hand sanitizer, so it can work better. If you are heading outdoors, bring clean utensils and other items with you. Be sure to pack everything into clean coolers, baskets and bags.
  2. Separate raw meat, poultry, fish or eggs from ready-to-eat foods. Raw meat, etc., should be wrapped in its own container and carried in a separate cooler filled with ice. Once a raw item is cooked, do not put it back into the same container, which may still be contaminated with germs.
  3. Cook that raw meat, poultry, fish and eggs to a safe internal temperature. You cannot rely on color to tell you whether or not the food is safe. Use a food thermometer, and go to www.fightbac.org/cook-1 to find a chart of safe temperatures for various foods.
  4. Chill perishable food at 40° F or below until you are ready to cook or eat it. When transporting food, carry it in the air-conditioned section of the car, not in the trunk. If you are working with frozen foods, do not defrost them at room temperature. At the end of the meal, chill leftovers as soon as possible. It is normally recommended to put leftovers in the refrigerator within 2 hours. However, if the ambient temperature is above 90° F, you only have 1 hour to get them chilled. If you are picnicking or camping, it would be wise to discard the perishable leftovers rather than risk a foodborne illness.

Healthier Grilling

Cooking meat, poultry or fish at a high temperature – as in pan frying or direct grilling – can create carcinogenic (cancer-causing) compounds. There are steps you can take to minimize the amount of dangerous compounds in your food.

  1. Choose lean cuts of meat and poultry, and cut off visible fat before cooking. Another option is to choose fish or vegetables instead. Less fat produces fewer toxins.
  2. Marinate food before cooking it.
  3. Cook at a lower temperature. If using a gas grill, don’t set it on high. With conventional grills, use hardwood charcoal, which burns at a lower temperature than softer woods like mesquite. Flipping the food frequently will also keep the surface temperature cooler.
  4. Cook indirectly rather than setting food directly over the flame or coals.
  5. Do not eat charred food. Cajun food blackened with spices is not a problem. Food blackened by overcooking or burning is.

Subscribe to our Live Well newsletter today to receive nutrition, exercise, health and wellness information and tips every month.

Cigna, March of Dimes and TMC share A Common Thread

008Summertime in not usually when Tucsonans think about needing a knit-cap…unless they are a preemie.

This summer, thousands of cute knit-caps are available for preemies thanks to Cigna volunteers, who donated the caps to TMC during national volunteer week.

In April, Cigna volunteers traveled from Phoenix to deliver nearly 3,000 knit caps for NICU babies at Tucson Medical Center.

The community service project is called A Common Thread, and was founded by Cigna employees as part of Cigna’s national sponsorship of the March of Dimes.

The caps provide warmth for babies, which is particularly important for infants facing serious health challenges. Crocheted in many sizes, the caps can accommodate both premature and full-term babies. In addition, families enjoy the different styles and colors that give the newborns individuality.

014“We are most proud of this project,” said Jessica Celentano, executive director of market development at the Southern Arizona March of Dimes. “Each hat takes about 20 minutes to knit – that’s more than 900 volunteer hours to provide a needed and heartfelt service for families in our region.”

Cigna has been a partner of the March of Dimes and a national sponsor of March for Babies for the past 23 years. Since A Common Thread was founded, more than 12,000 baby hats have been donated to NICUs throughout the country and more than 8,500 have been donated in Arizona.

“It is a priority for Cigna and our employees to meaningfully contribute to local communities,” said Dr. Isaac Martinez, medical director of Cigna HealthCare. He joined Cigna employees Pamela Martin and Theresa Richards to deliver the 2,700+ caps to TMC. “Thanks to the many Cigna volunteers, like Pamela and Theresa, we’re honored to make this contribution to TMC.”

002Celentano, Martin, Richards and Dr. Martinez carried countless blue satchels filled with the donated caps through TMC’s Joel M. Childers Women’s Center. Pat Brown, TMC director of women’s and children’s services, thanked them for the unique caps and their community service.

“We are so thankful for their time and effort,” Brown said. “These caps are wonderful gifts for the babies and their families – and there is enough to last us for years.”

The NICU at TMC treats about 500 infants in the NICU each year, and more than 5,000 babies are born annually at TMC’s labor and delivery department – one of the busiest in the state.  A perfect fit for the sizeable donation.

Learn more about Cigna’s community support efforts like A Common Thread, on their Facebook page or on Twitter @Cigna or #CignaAZ. The March of Dimes website can provide more information about their efforts to help infants and families.

 

 

General contractor survives cardiac arrest; teaches July 27 class to show others how to save lives

GaryBrauchlateachesCPRWhen Gary Brauchla went into cardiac arrest before daybreak in September 2012, he survived because others didn’t give up on him.

His wife kept up chest compressions until help came. First responders kept up CPR until they transported him to the hospital.

Brauchla, now 72, is on a mission to show others how to save lives with chest compression CPR.

According to the American Heart Association, most people who experience sudden cardiac arrest die because they do not receive immediate CPR, which could otherwise double or even triple a person’s chance of survival.

“Statistics show that 70 percent of people may not know how to respond if someone collapsed nearby,” Brauchla said. “People should know that in just a few minutes, they can learn how to save a life. You never know when you may need that skill, especially since like mine, four out of five cardiac arrests happen at home.”

With his second chance, Brauchla added two things to his life.

He started running for the first time in his life, and routinely runs 5K races.

And he became an advocate, starting a nonprofit, Arizona Cardiac Arrest Survivors, to provide education about cardiac arrest and the steps that can be taken to save lives. He also became an American Heart Association Basic Life Support Instructor, capable of training clinical staff as well as those with no experience in CPR.

Brauchla will be teaching Save a Life, Don’t Give Up! Compression Only CPR on July 27 at 5:30 p.m. at The Core at La Encantada, 2905 E. Skyline Drive.

Chest compression CPR not only is easy to perform and eliminates a barrier for those reluctant to perform mouth-to-mouth resuscitation, Brauchla noted, but it works just as well as traditional CPR in sudden cardiac arrest cases.

“Feeling helpless as a bystander in an emergency is a terrible feeling,” Brauchla said. “It’s my hope to help others be able to take more proactive steps instead of wishing they could help.”

Registration is requested at http://www.thecoretmc.com. Participants will have an opportunity to practice this technique on mannequins during the class.

TMC Offering FREE, Online Childbirth-Preparation Videos

Anyone who is bringing a new life into the world has questions about what is best for mom and baby.

Tucson Medical Center now offers their FREE birthing presentations –online . Although informative and helpful, the online videos are best used for distance learners and a refresher for those who have previously taken a class.

Nothing can completely take the place of a face-to-face, expert-led child birth class and we encourage first time parents to take one or more of the TMC Preparation for Childbirth classes.

Childbirth VideosHow do I sign-up for the online videos?

There’s no sign-up, no cost and no requirement – just point and click on the five, fun and informative courses. They are available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

 

 

What will I Learn?

The videos focus on childbirth basics and preparation –viewers will learn what to expect throughout the journey, from pregnancy to birth.

Is this just more hefty reading?

Absolutely not! In each video, the viewers are an interactive part of a presentation facilitated by TMC’s own Certified Childbirth Educator Margie Letson.

With 30 years of experience, Margie has a strong grasp of the clinical information and effective communication techniques. Many say they found the videos to be fun, as well as informative.

Do I have to watch every video?
Childbirth videos 2
No, there are no requirements. Viewers do not have to watch all videos, do not have to view them in order and do not have to view them to completion. The presentations can be started and stopped at anytime and even viewed more than once.

Moms and families can pick and choose which videos are most applicable to their concerns and questions. Although, most viewers say they benefited from every video – so we recommend trying them all.

How long are the videos – is there an exam?

The length of the presentations varies from about 20 minutes to about 1.5 hours, depending on the subject. Remember, the videos can always be stopped at any time and viewed at a later date.

There are no questions, exams or other requirements – just the information moms and families need when it is convenient for them.

NICU Blanket PhotoA meaningful resource

“The childbirth videos are a helpful service for expectant parents that are not able to attend TMC classes,” said Certified Childbirth Educator Margie Letson. “For parents who have attended the TMC childbirth classes, the videos offer reinforcement on what they learned and practiced.”

For answers to your questions or for more information, please call Kellie at TMC Family Support Services, (520) 324-1817.

 

Additional Support

CHildbirth Videos 5Online Guide for New Parents

Tucson Medical Center also provides an Online Guide for New Parents. From breastfeeding to diaper changes, and fingernail care to breastfeeding – the six pages of bullet points are a helpful resource of need-to-know facts.

 

Birthing and parenting classes

TMC offers additional birthing and parenting classes to the public. These courses are live presentations at the TMC campus. Attendees receive materials and have the opportunity to ask questions.

You can view the TMC class calendar and register for courses online. Please note that some courses require a fee. Click here for childbirth and parenting class overviews.

TMC Mom-Baby UnitMaternity Services Tours

Moms and families can take a FREE tour though the labor and delivery area, as well as the mom/baby unit where she will be staying. No pre-registration is necessary and families are welcome! Click to find upcoming dates of the tour.

 

 

 

Artwork at TMC Rincon Health Campus reflects Vail’s community connection and spirit

Vail Preservation SocietyVail – the town between the tracks – is a vibrant community resting in the foothills of the Rincon mountains on Tucson’s eastside.

Along with its leading school system , picturesque landscapes and family-oriented neighborhoods, another of Vail’s greatest attributes is the community’s strong connection to the rich, cultural heritage of the area.

The community values its history, preserving locations like the Old Vail Post Office (built in 1908) and founder’s chronicles like those of the Estrada, Escalante, Leon and Monthan families. You’ll recognize the name Monthan from Tucson’s Air Force Base. Davis-Monthan gets half its name from early Vail resident Oscar Monthan.

Vail Preservation Society 3“Residents, especially the young ones, want to know who came before them,” explained J.J. Lamb, executive director of the Vail Preservation Society. “Our past shows us there is something unique about Vail that it is worth preserving.”

Tucson Medical Center recently opened the TMC Rincon Health Campus at Houghton and Drexel. In the final stages of construction, the community-owned hospital worked with the Vail Preservation society to include artwork and photography that would reflect the Vail community’s connection to their history and to the land itself.

“These photographs give us a sense of place and community continuity,” said Lamb. “We Vail Preservation Society 2were glad to work with TMC and establish these connections to our community through public art.”

The art and photos have an ancillary but equally important effect for the Vail residents visiting the Rincon Health Campus.

“It’s the right fit,” said Lauren Rabb, curator of the TMC Healing Art Program. “Art can be Vail Preservation Society 4powerful medicine, and we took it a step further at Rincon– including comforting and therapeutic images of local landscapes, history and people.”

Local photographer Gregory Cranwell shares thoughts on his photo of Jesus Arvizu that is displayed at Rincon. “Photographs like this show the backbone of our area,” Cranwell said. “This is a rancher doing real ranching. It’s not for show – he’s going about his daily work to provide for his family.”

Vail Preservation Society 7For Cranwell, the photos provide both beauty and truth. “You can’t separate the beauty of our landscapes from the beauty of our culture – all we have is our roots and I hope people will feel this place is special.”

Bill Steen is a Southern Arizona photographer who took several of the landscape photos provided. “Sometimes they just come together and the same conditions will never happen again in the exact way,” he said. “Photos can make people more aware of where they live – and enrich the possibility of being connected to it.”

Vail Preservation Society 6At Rincon, you’ll find many stopping to appreciate Bill’s photos of clouds passing over the Mustang Mountains and of the moon rising above the Huachuca foothills. “They are also designed to soothe – helping people stop and escape the moment.”

Vail Preservation Society 5TMC’s Healing Art Program accepts donations of gallery-quality paintings, graphics, photography and sculptures. The program considers all styles of art that would further our mission to enhance patient care through the creation and maintenance of a healing environment.

 

“Most Wired” designation shows TMC continues leading the way in information technology

MostWired2017_smlIncreasingly, technology is helping patients become more engaged in their own wellness and more active in their care.

For the sixth year running, Tucson Medical Center has secured a place among America’s “Most Wired” hospitals. The distinction recognizes hospitals that leverage information technology to provide stronger care for patients, to improve quality, to reduce costs and to streamline operations.

TMC was the only Tucson-area hospital to achieve recognition in HealthCare’s Most Wired® survey, released by the American Hospital Association’s (AHA) Health Forum.

“We know that data-driven decisions help us to better serve our patients, our employees and our community,” said TMC’s Chief Information Officer Frank Marini. “This designation recognizes that it’s not just about having the technology in place: It’s about using it effectively as we continue to strive for clinical excellence.”

“We also know that today’s patients are increasingly comfortable in a digital environment so it’s critical to provide mobile tools to increase convenience, access and engagement.”

Survey respondents demonstrate technology usage throughout the hospital industry is creating a new dynamic in patient interactions, although there is continued room for growth.

“The Most Wired hospitals are using every available technology option to create more ways to reach their patients in order to provide access to care,” said AHA President and CEO Rick Pollack. “They are transforming care delivery, investing in new delivery models in order to improve quality, provide access and control costs.”

Detailed results of the survey and study can be found in the July issue of H&HN. For a full list of winners, visit www.hhnmag.com.

Southern Arizona hospital coalition addresses opioid misuse in rural areas

SAHA.jpgA coalition of five independent Southern Arizona hospitals this week secured a federal grant to diminish opioid misuse and dependence across rural communities in Southern Arizona.

The Rural Health Network Development Planning Grant, which provides about $100,000 in support to the effort, comes through the federal Health Resources & Services Administration. The grant aims to:

  • achieve efficiencies by collaborating with behavioral health and police departments in rural communities
  • expand coordination of quality health care services by identifying shared communication strategies tailored for rural communities
  • strengthen the rural health care system in Southern Arizona by identifying opportunities for the Alliance to better address regional opioid misuse through the implementation of innovative collaborations and strategies

Formed in summer 2015, the Alliance consists of Northern Cochise Community Hospital, Copper Queen Community Hospital, Mt. Graham Regional Medical Center, and Benson Hospital. Tucson Medical Center is the founding member.

“Our Alliance has already demonstrated we can leverage existing relationships within our network to improve the care we deliver,” said Roland Knox, the chief executive officer of Northern Cochise Community Hospital who will lead the grant project. “Although this is a national struggle, Arizona has the fifth highest opioid prescription rate in the nation, and this award will allow us to work in a more coordinated way to improve outcomes for those grappling with this issue.”

Hope Thomas, the network director for the Alliance and TMC’s director of community programs, noted the challenges in rural communities are magnified because of more limited access to health and social services. Thomas noted an average of 26 percent of adults living in Southern Arizona’s rural counties report current prescription drug misuse and fatal opioid overdose in rural areas is as high or even higher than rates in metropolitan areas.

The grant award runs through May 2018.

Doctors, nurses share implications of federal health reform (BCRA)

What our health care providers are saying about BCRAThe medical community has not had any substantive role in drafting the proposed health care reform legislation in Washington, D.C.

Doctors, nurse practitioners and nurses who practice at Tucson Medical Center have created videos to directly share their perspectives and concerns on behalf of patients who would be affected by changes to Medicaid as envisioned in the proposals.

“As a nonprofit community hospital, TMC provides educational and community events throughout the year on a variety of different topics, from heart health to water safety to nutrition,” explained Julia Strange, the vice president of community benefit for TMC.

“In this particular case, we have been getting a lot of questions from staff and providers and the community about what these legislative proposals would mean to the community and to hospitals,” Strange continued. “We believe it is important to focus on policy and not politics, so these videos are an opportunity for providers to share their perspective, as those closest to serving patients.”

Hear directly from clinicians in the following videos. You can also view all the videos on our YouTube channel.

health care, bcra, midwive

Greta Gill – Nurse Midwife

bcra, healthcare

Mimi Coomler, RN, CNO

 

 

 

 

Dr. Donna Woods, ED Physician

Joey Rodriguez, RN

 

 

 

 

 

Melissa Young, Pediatric Nurse Practitioner

Melissa Young, Pediatric Nurse Practitioner

Kimberly Fore, RN

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dr. Pal Evans, Physician

Dr. Daniel McCabe

 

 

 

 

Randy Friese, MD, trauma critical care provider.

Donna Woods, ED physician, reading a poem she wrote

Mimi Coomler, RN, speaking about her son with Type 1 diabetes

Regardless of your viewpoint, please consider sharing your own perspectives and stories with your elected leaders in Washington as they collect feedback from their constituents to help inform their vote. For more information visit Save AZ Health Care’s website. 

TMC Lactation Services receives prestigious award for breastfeeding support

Tucson Medical Center was recognized for excellence in lactation care recently by the International Board of Lactation Consultant Examiners and International Lactation Consultant Association.

Only those programs that employ lactation consultants five to seven days a week and provide yearly education to medical staff based on evidence-based guidelines are eligible for the recognition. In addition, the program must have completed a project in the previous two years that has the goal of protecting, promoting and supporting breastfeeding.

The TMC Lactation Services team – the only recipient of the award in Southern Arizona – established as its project an Outpatient Breastfeeding Support Clinic to meet the lactation needs of the community, including those unable to afford services.

A $30,000 grant from the TMC Foundation helped make possible the opening of the Lactation Outpatient Clinic in September 2015. The clinic serves new mothers in Southern Arizona who need additional help with breastfeeding after release from the hospital. TMC staff members, all of whom are International Board Certified Lactation Consultants, staff the clinic, providing one-on-one assistance for breastfeeding needs and challenges.

In 2016, 406 women and infants were assisted to establish and maintain breastfeeding.  These women exceeded national breastfeeding goals established by Healthy People 2020. Outpatient clinic clients accomplished an exclusive breastfeeding rate of 70 percent at 3 months compared with the national goal of just above 46 percent. And the gains at six months were no less impressive, with 55 percent of mothers nursing at 6 months – more than double the national goal.

“TMC is honored to achieve this recognition of the work done to advance nursing,” said Damiana Cohen, manager of the Mother-Baby Unit. “The success we’ve had with our mothers demonstrates the impact that professional help makes on extending the amount of time that a newborn exclusively breastfeeds.”

Comprehensive Weight-Loss Program now available at TMC

TMC Weight Loss Program 3Super foods – juice cleansing – metabolism kick starters – core workouts. Weight-loss is very challenging and the dizzying number of diets, fads and exercises can make it even harder. Tucson Medical Center’s Comprehensive Weight-Loss Program offers safe and effective plans that are personalized to meet each patient’s needs.

These days, busy lifestyles are common– stretching schedules for career, family, activities and so much more. With only so many hours in a day, it’s hard to make time for health and easy to put on pounds fast. More than 70 percent of American adults are overweight and we understand that everyone faces unique challenges to achieving a weight loss goal.

TMC Wellness Director Mary Atkinson explains how the TMC Weight-Loss Program is different. “We look at the whole person,” she said. “Registered dietitians and certified exercise-professionals will work with you to create a personalized plan you can live with, so you can lose weight and keep it off.”

Weight-Loss Counseling Program The 12-week program includes three, one-hour initial appointments and eight follow-ups that last about 30 minutes. Periodic assessments help determine what is working best and allow you and your team to make adjustments to keep

  • Nutrition, fitness and general wellness assessments
  • Reliable advice that you can use
  • Tracking of weight and estimated body composition
  • Development of personalized nutrition and fitness plans
  • Strategies to promote long-term weight-loss success

Weight-Loss Surgery from the TMC Bariatric Center

The TMC Bariatric Center, a comprehensive center accredited by the Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery Accreditation and Quality Improvement Program, guides you every step of the way on your weight-loss journey:

  • Pre-surgery counseling and evaluations
  • Post-op care that includes nutritional counseling
  • Psychological support
  • Instruction on incorporating exercises into your lifestyle
  • Discussion groups – build relationships with others who have had bariatric surgery at TMC
  • Some services may be covered by insurance.

TMC Weight Loss Program 4Weight Management Support Group

No matter what method you have used to lose weight, sticking to your new good habits and keeping the weight off can be a challenge. Don’t try to tackle it alone. Join our monthly support group, led by a certified health coach, to learn new tips and stay motivated.

Program Pricing

  • Flat fee for the entire program: $400
  • Weekly rate: $60 for one-hour sessions, $30 for 30-minute sessions (total of $480 for entire program)
  • Weight management support group = $5 per meeting (meets monthly at The Core at La Encantada)

For more details, please contact TMC Wellness, (520) 324-4163 or wellness@tmcaz.com.

TMC follows up on questions from overflow crowd at June 26 health forum

Health Care ForumTucson Medical Center on Monday held a health care forum designed to share information about the impacts and implications of federal health care reform proposals.

The panel, which included health care experts in the areas of pediatrics, public health, rural health, primary care and hospitals, answered as many audience questions as they could within the 90-minute discussion.

TMC President and CEO Judy Rich committed to answering the remaining questions, which are shared below. In the interest of reducing duplication, topics were grouped if there were multiple questions on a topic.

For those interested in watching the entirety of the session, please visit https://youtu.be/z28iVHy1pto

Single-payer related questions:

  • Do you support Medicare for all? Even under ACA, things are way too complicated, costs too high and 28 million uninsured. – Andrea
  • Why can’t the U.S. provide universal health care when every other developed nation can? – Warren
  • Since there is no way to cure the problems affecting our health care system unless we eliminate the profit motive, what are you doing to advocate the only plan that does that: Medicare for all? – Lee
  • Do you support a single-payer system like Medicare for all? – Maddy
  • Why not Medicare for all? – Tony
  • How do we achieve single payer, efficient health care? – Gary
  • What would it cost and how can it be implemented to build public health care infrastructure – the like V.A. – for civilians? – Howard
  • Will you support a single payer Medicare for all health system? – Barbara
  • What position does the AMA take on single payer? – Elizabeth

Thank you all for your question. Since they all follow a similar thread, we have grouped them together for one answer.

A single-payer system is certainly one of the policy options being considered. It’s a difficult question to answer because, as is usually the case, it depends on the details of the legislation. We are strong advocates for affordable and accessible health care insurance for all members of our community. Between Medicare, Medicaid and Tricare, government is a significant payer for most hospitals, so it’s possible there would be some system savings by consolidating at least those into a single program. Our commitment is to advocate for coverage, access and efficiency in a health care system and, as discussed at the forum, there are multiple ways to achieve that end. Unfortunately, the legislation currently proposed by the House and Senate do not achieve those objectives.

Affordable Care Act related questions:

  • How many insurance carriers have pulled out of Arizona since ACA? – Kathleen
  • ACA is collapsing under its own weight. What is the panels’ suggestion for a system that will work?  -Mike

Thank you for these questions. Kaiser Health News published a story that reported that Arizona had eight insurance carriers in 2014, 11 in 2015, eight in 2016 and two in 2017. The uncertainty of the future of the marketplace has impacted insurance companies’ interest in participating in the exchanges. (http://www.kff.org/health-reform/issue-brief/2017-premium-changes-and-insurer-participation-in-the-affordable-care-acts-health-insurance-marketplaces/)  But, remember the marketplace is just one small piece of the Affordable Care Act and, frankly, the portion of the legislation that, in our opinion needs to be addressed. Here is an opinion piece by Andy Slavitt, former director of Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, one some commonsense solutions that would stabilize the health care exchanges: https://www.usatoday.com/story/opinion/2017/03/26/bipartisan-path-forward-health-care-trumpcare-obamacare-column-andy-slavitt/99661882/

  • With this current political turmoil, what is the future of the Az-CHIP program? – Preshit

We agree with our colleagues at the Children’s Action Alliance, who have concluded the future of KidsCare,  Arizona’s CHIP program, is at high risk.  That means affordable coverage for more than 21,000 children already enrolled is in danger.

As Children’s Action Alliance President and CEO Dana Naimark explains, “Currently, our federal tax dollars pay for the full cost of KidsCare. Our legislature and Gov. Doug Ducey just put a provision into our state budget that says if the federal funding falls below 100 percent, then enrollment in KidsCare will be frozen again.  The federal funding expires Sept. 30, 2017.  So Congress must act soon to reauthorize funding  for all states.  And the funding must be reauthorized at the current level for KidsCare to continue. Without KidsCare, many more children will go without the check-ups, treatment and behavioral health services that keep them healthy. 

There is still bipartisan support for KidsCare and CHIP. But the issue has gotten both sidetracked and tangled in with the fights over repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act. We will all need to raise our voices on this in the coming weeks.”

Political process

Forum.jpg

  • What does budget reconciliation allow you to do? – Brenda

Brenda, the reconciliation process may be complex, but it is also faster because it takes only 51 votes to pass a bill – allowing senators to sidestep the threat of filibuster, which would take 60 votes. Although there is some transparency in the sense that the bill is reviewed by the Congressional Budget Office and members do have an opportunity to amend the bill, this process has not been reflective of what is typical of legislation of this magnitude. The process typically includes extensive hearings as well as input from stakeholders.

  • What formal process is TMC using to register our community protest against this law? – Linda

Hello, Linda, and thank you for your question. As you know, there has been limited discussion about this legislation. TMC held this forum in an effort to share the expertise of those in the medical field about the impacts they foresee on the work they do and the people they care for. 

It was intended to provide audience members with real facts about the implications and hopefully inspire them to engage directly with their elected leaders. TMC has shared our own concerns with our federal delegation. We also will provide those leaders with a link to the forum and to these answers to your questions.

  • I’ve been told our senators do not keep a tally of calls they receive. What is the point of calling? – Robin

Although elected leaders have different approaches to how they keep track of comments directed to their offices, they absolutely know the pulse of their constituencies. Every call, every letter, every email, every tweet – they all add up and make a difference. Advocacy – not apathy and ambivalence – is ultimately what drives change, so please continue sharing your thoughts and expectations with your elected leaders.

  • Who are the senators on the fence and how can we contact them? Many of us have already reached out to Sens. Flake and McCain. – Suzann

The bill’s fate hinges on two Republican votes. At least four senators – Rand Paul, Ted Cruz, Ron Johnson and Mike Lee, are holdouts, saying the bill does not do enough to reduce the deficit or repeal the Affordable Care Act. Several others have voiced concerns about the deep cuts to Medicaid, including Dean Heller, Rob Portman, Shelly Moore and Susan Collins. The U.S. Senate website has a list of senators and their contact information at https://www.senate.gov/

General impacts

  • Are you aware of a Harvard research study that 24 million people losing health insurance means 45,000 additional deaths per year? Do you agree? – Guy

The American Journal of Public Health in 2009 published a study that associated 45,000 deaths annually with a lack of health insurance.  The study, conducted at Harvard Medical School, analyzed U.S. adults under age 65 and found the uninsured have a higher risk of death than those with private insurance. The study’s co-authors noted the numbers indicate one American dies every 12 minutes from lack of health insurance. There have been other studies that have come up with varying numbers, but the bottom line is that the body of evidence – combined with what we know as a health care provider – shows without question that coverage saves lives.

forum2Is it true that the number of uninsured will likely increase even more than the CBO score after the 10-year period? – Barry

Hello, Barry. It will probably serve best to quote directly from the report by the Congressional Budget Office and the staff on the Joint Committee on Taxation, which found that by 2026, there would be 22 million more people uninsured. “In later years, other changes in the legislation—lower spending on Medicaid and substantially smaller average subsidies for coverage in the nongroup market—would also lead to increases in the number of people without health insurance. By 2026, among people under age 65, enrollment in Medicaid would fall by about 16 percent and an estimated 49 million people would be uninsured, compared with 28 million who would lack insurance that year under current law.”

To read the report in its entirety, please visit https://www.cbo.gov/publication/52849

  • So the emergency department becomes the primary care for all who do not have insurance. How will the hospitals cope and who will cover the cost?  – Paul

Unfortunately, Paul, those of us in Arizona know all too well what happens when large numbers of people lose access to care. After enrollment in our state’s Medicaid program was frozen in 2011, more than 160,000 people fell off the program rolls over the course of the next two years. They began showing up in our emergency department and those of hospitals across Arizona, seeking health care of last resort for the uninsured. Uncompensated care at Tucson Medical Center alone climbed to more than $25 million. Last year, that number had dropped to about $8 million, thanks for expanded coverage. For many hospitals, and particularly those in rural areas, that burden may be too much to bear, reducing access to care for many who need those critical services.

Medicare impacts

  • How will this bill impact people who are on Medicare? Not on Obamacare? – unsigned
  • How is Medicare affected? – Melvin
  • What does the Senate’s BRCA do to Medicare? – Judith

Although the proposed Senate bill does not make changes to Medicare eligibility or benefits, it will reduce Medicare revenues by eliminating Medicare taxes paid by high-income earners.

Currently, Individuals who are paid annual wages more than $200,000 ($250,000 for married couples) pay a Medicare payroll surtax – a tax higher than those who are paid wages less than $200,000 annually.

The Senate bill will eliminate the Medicare payroll surtax on high-income wages by 2023.

The proposed Senate legislation also repeals the Net Investment Income Tax – a tax implemented by the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act to help fund Medicare. This tax applies to individuals that annually earn more than $200,000 ($250,000 for married couples) on certain investments (interest, dividends, capital gains and rental income).

The Senate bill makes this tax cut on high-income investments retroactive to Jan. 1, 2017.

It is not just health care entities who are concerned about these proposals. Nancy LeaMond, president of the AARP, has expressed deep concerns about the impact of the bill.  The Senate bill also cuts funding for Medicare which weakens the program’s ability to pay benefits  and leaves the door wide open to benefit cuts.”

These are the answers we have for now. We continue to work on more questions, and will provide answers in a future blog.

Downtown discussion: Healthy strategies for the grocery store

Fruits and vegetables overhead assortment on colorful backgroundSometimes we forget what a miracle – and a trap – the grocery store really is.

It can be a place of wondrous nutritional bounty.

It can also be a place where healthy lifestyles go to get derailed.

If you’ve got 45 minutes over the lunch hour Thursday, July 6, pop over to HealthOn Broadway to join members of Tucson Medical Center’s Wellness team to learn more about thoughtfully navigating those aisles.

“People often think they’re making the right choices at the grocery store but they’re often not the right choices for their health or their finances,” said Wellness Director Mary Atkinson, a registered dietitian. “This is an opportunity to help become a more informed consumer.”

Registered dietitian Laurie Ledford will share information, for example, about how to read labels more effectively. “The front of the packaging is not an accurate source of information,” she said. “The truth is in the fine print on the back.”

TMC’s free and informative wellness conversations take place the first Thursday of each month from 11 a.m. – 11:45 a.m. and again from noon – 12:45 p.m. The conversations take place on the first floor of HealthOn Broadway, 1 W. Broadway.

And mark your calendars for August’s discussion: Your Perfect Average Day – How to make small steps count towards big change.

About HealthOn

Tucson Medical Center joined forces with El Rio Health Community Health Center to create HealthOn Tucson, a new innovative, integrated health and wellness collaboration.

HealthOn Broadway provides:

  • State-of-the-art primary care
  • Immediate care (for those unexpected illnesses)
  • Virtual visits
  • Health coaching
  • Health and wellness classes

Staying active in the Arizona heat

“At least it is a dry heat.”

Whether it is a dry heat or not, it is still getting hot out there! This is the time of year that most year-round Tucsonans try to hide from the heat by staying indoors as much as possible. This seems like a good practice, but it can hinder many of the activities we enjoy the other 9 months of the year. So what are we to do?!

We definitely don’t want you to have to give up what you enjoy doing, and we want you to stay active, but we also want you to be smart and safe during your time outdoors. Planning and preparation are the keys to safety. Here are some tips from the TMC Wellness Team to consider as we enter the hotter months.

active in arizona heat

Rise Early

Whether you are normally a morning person or not, you pretty much need to be one from June through August if you ever want to do anything outside! With the sun rising as early as 5:15, meaning that it is light outside by 5:00 (that is a.m.!), you have at least an hour before the thermometer moves over 85 degrees. So for those of you who don’t enjoy exercising indoors, try planning for some early morning activities. We are fortunate to have some beautiful sunrises here in Tucson. You just need to get up and out to enjoy them!

If you aren’t accustomed to waking up early, try going to bed earlier than you normally would, so you will feel well rested. You might also plan to meet a friend or a group that will help motivate you to move in the morning. Once you get into a routine, you will realize it isn’t quite as bad as you used to believe.

Cover Up

Summer often means fun in the sun, but we all need to be careful that we aren’t getting too much of a good thing. The CDC recommends the following to protect ourselves from harmful rays.

Sunscreen:

  • Use sunscreen with sun protection factor (SPF) 15 or higher, and with both UVA and UVB protection.
  • Be sure to use enough. Apply a thick layer to all exposed skin.
  • Reapply every 2 hours that you are out in the sun or any time you sweat, rinse or wipe it off.

Protective Clothing

  • Wear clothing to cover exposed skin.
  • Loose fitting clothing may be more comfortable. Dark colors and tightly woven fabrics may offer better protection, because they absorb or block more UV rays.

Hats

  • Wear a hat with a wide brim to shade the face, head, ears, and neck.
  • Loose fitting hats may be more comfortable in the heat.

Sunglasses

  • Don’t forget that the sun can damage your eyes and can increase your risk of cataracts.
  • Sunglasses that wrap close to your face and block both UVA and UVB will provide the greatest protection.

Hydrate

swimming in the summer to keep coolYou have gotten up early, put on the appropriate sun protection, and you are now ready to get out and do something active….Good for you! The final thing to remember about being active during the summer is to hydrate.

When it is hot out, it is easier to remember to drink water. But if you head out early or are swimming, you could forget to replenish the fluids you lose. The standard recommendation is eight to ten 8-ounce glasses of water each day. During the summer, especially in Arizona, and particularly when adding in outdoor activity, the recommendation goes way up; some recommendations go as high as 30 cups per day. The best way to determine how much you need to drink is to take a look at your urine. Urine should be light in color, similar to lemonade; dark urine the color of apple juice is an indicator of dehydration. Drinking smaller amounts more frequently maintains hydration better than drinking a large amount all at one time. Don’t wait until you are thirsty to start replacing fluids; rather, drink throughout the day.

Move

Just because it is hot outside (really hot!) is not a good enough reason to stop all activity. Too often we hear, “I’ll start exercising again once it cools down.”  What people are really saying is, “Now that it is hot outside, I have a great excuse not to be active.” WRONG! With a bit of planning, you can still be active.

Enjoy your summer activities!

For more information about our Wellness programs or to sign up for our monthly wellness newsletter Live Well visit our website.

Temps are rising and the pool is beckoning – do you know your water safety?

Pool Safety 3Is it hot enough yet? With Tucson temperatures exceeding 115 degrees for three straight days, many families will be heading for the pool this weekend.

It’s no surprise why swimming is a summer favorite. Parents get a chance to cool-off, kids max out on fun and families make memories.

With the summertime exuberance of visiting, splashing and playing, it can be easy for all to forget important safety rules. This is serious because Arizona has the second highest number of child drownings in the United States.

Child drowning is tragic but preventable. Safe Kids Pima County Coordinator Jessica Mitchell works with community partners to provide helpful tips and education to prevent childhood drowning. She provided us important water safety standards every
parent should know.

It’s as easy as ABC

A = Adult supervision B = Barriers around pools, spas and hot tubs C = Coast Guard approved life vest and life-saving CPR classes

My kids love playing in the pool – what are the things to watch out for?

  • Active supervision is a must. Provide active supervision without any distractions – even if other adults are present and many kids are in the pool. They call drowning the “silent killer” because a drowning child can’t call for help.
  • Infants and toddlers should stay within an arm’s reach of an adult.
  • Don’t rely on swimming aids such as water wings and pool noodles. They are fun, but may not prevent drowning.
  • When finished, remove all toys from the pool. This can tempt children to go for the toys later, increasing the risk of them falling in and drowning.
  • Barriers should be in place to keep children from entering the pool on their own. Alarms on doors and pool fences with self-closing gates also helps to keep kids safe.
  • Always keep a phone nearby so that you can call 911 in the case of an emergency.
  • Empty kiddie pools and turn them upside down when finished. Tragedies have happened in just a few inches of water.

Pool Safety 2
What swimming rules should I set for my children?

  • Only swim if an adult is a present.
  • Do not dive in shallow areas of the pool (or the entire pool if it is not deep enough for diving).
  • Don’t push or jump on others.
  • Don’t go swimming during thunder/lightning storms.

My kids have already taken swimming lessons, so I probably don’t need to watch them as much, right?

While we encourage swimming lessons, children should not be swimming alone even if they are good swimmers. It takes multiple lessons before a child learns how to swim effectively and even then, there should still be active supervision by an adult.

How do I rescue a child I think might be drowning?

  • Take the child out of the water
  • If you are alone, call 911 and begin CPR. Starting CPR immediately is the most important thing you can do to prevent a child from dying.
  • If you are not alone, begin CPR and ask someone to call 911.
  • Check for breathing and responsiveness. Place your ear near the child’s mouth and nose to see if you feel air on your cheek? Determine if the child’s chest is moving and call the child’s name to see if he or she responds.

Should I be CPR certified?

Anyone who routinely supervises children around water should get CPR certified. The certification courses are provided by many community organizations, including the American Red Cross.

It sounds like there is a lot to prepare for – can the water still be safe and fun for my family?

Absolutely! Swimming can be great family fun. Make sure you take the necessary precautions, always supervise swimming children and that someone in the family has taken CPR classes.

Visit our website for more safety tips and information.

 

 

TMCOne opens specialty clinic on NW side, providing quality care and convenience

TMC One Med Group your health your team OLProviding high-quality care means recognizing all aspects that benefit patients and their families. Convenience matters, and TMCOne’s  new clinic will make quality medical care and treatment more convenient for northwest residents by including commonly needed follow-up services at one location.

TMCOne is opening a specialized clinic on 7510 N. Oracle just south of Magee road in northwest Tucson. The office will provide comprehensive and specialized care, as well as imaging, IV infusion and health management services.

Susan Vance 1“This unique clinic has been thoughtfully designed to meet varied medical needs in one place,” said TMCOne Executive Director Susan Vance. “From sports medicine and health counseling to imaging and same-day appointments, we’re taking the next step in care.”

Specialties that often converge such as wound care, chronic disease counseling and complex medication regimens can now be managed in one office rather than several clinics. On-site lab and x-ray services will also reduce multiple trips and appointments.

Borrás Carlos
Dr. Carlos A. Borrás has joined the provider team at the Oracle office. He specializes in both internal medicine and sports medicine, providing a needed perspective for injuries related to golf, swimming, tennis, and other sports.

Dr. Dawn Lemcke also joins the northwest office, brining more than 30 years of internal medicine experience – and a strong focus on communication with patients and families.

The office is conveniently located for Oro Valley, Marana and northwest Tucson residents. Same-day appointments and expanded hours further enhance accessibility.

Patients can visit www.TMCOne.com or call (520) 324-4910 to schedule an appointment or for further information.

 

 

 

 

Safe Kids Pima County – keeping kids safe through education and advocacy

Safe Kids Pima County LogoPlenty of us have practice patching up the skinned knees and elbows of active children in our lives.

Unfortunately, though, accidents are too often far more serious than bumps and scrapes. In fact, accidents are the leading cause of death for ages 0 to 19 – according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The good news about this chilling statistic is that we have the power to change it. “Childhood accidents can (often? always? Almost always) be prevented – a few easy steps for children and adults can help keep kids safe,” said Jessica Mitchell, Safe Kids Pima County coordinator.

Safe Kids Pima County is a network of organizations focused on preventing accidental, childhood injury by educating adults and children, creating safe environments, conducting research, and advocating for effective laws.

Mitchell is a part of TMC’s participation in the Safe Kids initiative, working with community partners to actively engage adults in taking action for stronger child safety. From providing free bike helmets and pool safety to education workshops and school presentations, Mitchell coordinates a full schedule of activities to facilitate child safety awareness.

Jessica MitchellRecently, Mitchell spent a week at Frances Owen Holaway Elementary School, educating each PE class on the merits of bike safety.

“We explain to the kids ‘the brain can’t fix itself’ and make sure every student has a helmet and how to put it on correctly,” Mitchell explained. “The kids also learn the proper hand signals, where it’s safe to ride and how to avoid taking dangerous risks.”

Many child accidents involve bike riding. Over the past three years, Safe Kids Pima County has provided more than 8,000 free bike helmets to children in our community.

Safe Kids Pima County provides information and resources to help keep kids safe. Going forward, look for Mitchell’s monthly blog posts on helping keep kids safe, happy and healthy.

For further information about Safe Kids Pima County, please email safekidspimacounty@tmcaz.com or call (520) 324-2783. If you are holding a community event and would like Safe Kids Pima County to attend or participate, click here.

TMC Sponsors June 26 Forum on Health Care Reform: What it Means to Providers and Patients

community forum tmcTucson Medical Center is conducting a series of health forums to help inform the Southern Arizona community on current health care legislation and other federal actions.

Please join us at our next Health Care Town Hall: Health Care Reform and What it Means to Providers and Patients.

Come be part of the conversation and hear what health care leaders have to say about how health care legislation will impact patients and their families.

The event will begin at 6 p.m. on Monday, June 26, at the DoubleTree Grand Ballroom,  445 S Alvernon Way in Tucson.

 The moderator will be Judy Rich, TMC HealthCare President and CEO. Panelists include:

  • Greg Vigdor, President/CEO, Arizona Hospital and Healthcare Association, who will share the impact on health care and the economic sector
  • Daniel Derksen, Professor, Public Health Policy and Management Program, who will discuss the impact on rural health
  • Nancy Johnson, President and CEO, El Rio Health, who will share the primary care perspective
  • Francisco Garcia, Assistant County Administrator, who will discuss the impact on public health
  • Tommy Schechtman, Pediatrician, Past-president of the Florida Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics, who will share the impact on children’s health.

Please register here for the event to ensure your seat.

We Are Tucson – We Are Family

Dominguez Family
For Edward, Matthew, and Melissa Dominguez – working at Tucson Medical Center is literally a family affair.

About a year ago, Matthew Dominguez began working in the laundry department at TMC and has recently moved into grounds-keeping. The job is more than an eight-to-five for the young man; it’s a legacy.

“My grandfather, Keith Biggs worked at TMC for many years and just retired,” said Matthew. His grandfather is just one of his family members to work for TMC. “My dad, Ed and my stepmom, Melissa have worked for TMC for almost 15 years.”

Employment at TMC is important to the Dominguez family, and Matthew shared what they appreciate most. “Everything,” he said with a chuckle. “The environment, coworkers, the chance to make a difference in the community, even the history and knowledge.”

Matthew is a proud he and his family work at TMC, and he’s taking it a step further. “I encourage so many of my friends to apply for the TMC jobs they are qualified for.”

TMC logo
He says Tucson Medical Center is more than the place to work. “We always go to TMC if we need the Emergency Department or anything else – even more of our family have been patients.”

Tucson Medical Center is Tucson’s locally governed community hospital, where advanced technology meets compassionate care. TMC employees are more than a team, they are a family working together to build stronger health throughout Southern Arizona.

For more information about joining the TMC family, visit the TMC employment page.

 

 

Wound Care Awareness Week – celebrating treatments that are changing lives

Tucson Medical Center is honoring Wound Care Awareness Week by celebrating the treatments and therapies that are improving the quality of life for patients.

WoundCare 1Healing can be taken for granted – and many are unaware that a wound, sore or infection can be a significant challenge for seniors, diabetics and individuals experiencing illnesses that impede healing.

Several years ago, Carolyn Herman began noticing small red bumps that looked like insect bites – but each bump grew into a painful sore that would not heal.

As the sores grew in number and severity, Herman sought help from dermatologists who diagnosed her with Pyoderma Gangrenosum, a rare autoimmune disease whose cause is unknown. It began taking over her life, until she found the TMC Wound Care Center and hyperbaric oxygen therapy.

“It’s so frustrating because treating it is so hard,” Herman said. “Any small cut or skin rupture can turn into a very painful lesion.”

Wound Center Lavor“I just felt like things were always going to get worse,” Herman explained. “I saw specialists and wound centers, but it wasn’t getting better. I had tens of lesions on my body.”

In early 2016, Herman’s dermatologist referred her to the TMC Wound Clinic. “Everyone from the desk clerk to the nurses did a wonderful job of making me feel comfortable and at ease.”

Herman saw Dr. Michael A. Lavor, the medical director at the TMC Wound Clinic. Lavor performed surgery to address infections and prescribed ongoing hyperbaric oxygen (HBO) therapy.

“With HBO, the patient enters a hyperbaric oxygen therapy chamber that looks like a wide hospital gurney with a large, clear acrylic cover – like a tube,” said Heather Jankowski, the director of outpatient services at the TMC Wound Care Center.

Woundcare4“The chamber is filled with 100 percent oxygen, and the air pressure in the chamber is raised– which allows the lungs to safely absorb greater amounts of oxygen,” Jankowski continued. “HBO strengthens oxygen absorption, helping tissue heal more quickly and completely by stimulating growth factors and inhibiting toxins.”

Herman engaged more than 100 treatments, every day for two hours. HBO is not painful and many patients sleep through it. Still, engaging so many treatments can take its toll. “The staff was so good to me, they were always compassionate and thoughtful – it made 117 treatments doable.”

The HBO provided great relief and sped healing. “I’m doing wonderful now – my infections are gone and I’m managing my condition much more easily,” Herman said enthusiastically.

The TMC Wound Care Center has been serving Southern Arizona for five years and treats a wide variety of patients with healing challenges such as diabetic foot ulcers, venous stasis ulcers, failed flaps, and ORN of the jaw.

For further information about the TMC Wound Care Center, please visit the webpage or call (520) 324-4220. Call (520) 324-2075 for scheduling.

 

Osteoporosis: “The most important factor is prevention”

May is Women’s Health Month, a great time to celebrate and promote stronger health and a perfect time to discuss the latest information about preventing and treating health challenges like osteoporosis.

More than 44 million American women experience the debilitating effects of the bone disease, and many women fear aching joints and brittle bones are an inevitable part of aging. It is important to know the risks, and engage opportunities to maintain optimum bone-health.

Dr. Lawrence R. Housman is an orthopaedic surgeon who specializes in musculoskeletal disease at Tucson Orthopaedic Institute. He sat down with us to discuss the best ways to prevent and treat osteoporosis.

OsteoporosisWhy are women at greater risk for osteoporosis?  

Women start with a lower bone density than men. They also lose bone mass more quickly as they age. Between ages 20-80, women will lose about 1/3 of her bone density compared to men who lose only 1/4 of their bone density in that time frame. Estrogen levels also affect bone density, and women lose bone mass more quickly in the years immediately following menopause than at any other time of their lives.

What can accentuate this risk?

Alcohol in moderation is not a risk factor, however more than four drinks per day results in a twice the risk of hip fracture. Steroids can also increase this risk. Long term use of steroids will double the risk of fracture in women.

It should be noted that proton pump inhibitors (e.g. Nexium/Protonix used for stomach disorders such as acid reflux) decrease the absorption of calcium from the stomach.

While increasing fiber, phylates (beans, wheat bran), oxalates (spinach, beet greens, rhubarb) and phosphorus (colas) can provide other health benefits they can also interfere with calcium metabolism.

What are the most effective means of preventing osteoporosis?

Regular exercise is one of the most effective means of preventing osteoporosis. Thirty minutes per day – walking is excellent, and Tai Chi reportedly decreases falls by 47 percent and hip fracture by 25 percent.

Nutrition is another import part of maintaining healthy bones. Fruits and vegetables are important. Women ages 19-50 should take in 1000 mg of calcium daily and women older than 50 should get 1200 mg per day.

Vitamin D is another vital nutrient the body needs to prevent osteoporosis. An individual can get their vitamin D through measured exposure to sunlight or through supplements. A diet with dairy, protein or calcium fortified foods (e.g. orange juice), fish (salmon/sardines) and yogurt (6 ounces has 300 mg of calcium) will go a long way in getting vitamin d to the bones.

What are the warning signs of the disease – and when is it time to see a doctor?

There are usually no warning signs before a fracture occurs; therefore, the most important factor is prevention.

A primary care provider (PCP) is the best person to monitor bone health. Most physicians recommend a DEXA (bone density test) after the age of 50.

The DEXA scan is the bone density test done most frequently and is predictive of fracture risk. The scan will also show whether you have normal bone density, osteopenia (bone is becoming weaker) or osteoporosis (bone is at high risk for fracture).

If a fracture occurs, then an orthopaedist would enter the picture to advise on treatment concerning the spine or extremity fracture.

If diagnosed with osteopenia or osteoporosis – what’s next?

With treatment patients can live normal, active and happy lives.

There are many types of medications that are now available – which work to reverse and then rebuild the bone loss. With treatment, the risk of a vertebral fracture drops from between 30-70 percent and the risk of a hip fracture drops by up to 40 percent.

Housman OsteoporosisDr. Housman is an orthopaedic surgeon who practices at the Tucson Orthopaedic Institute. He earned a medical degree from the University of Alberta in Edmonton, Canada and completed an orthopaedic surgery residency at the Montreal General Hospital and McGill University. Dr. Housman is fellowship trained in several orthopaedic pursuits and is a past chief of staff at Tucson Medical Center. He has also served as president of the Western Orthopaedic Association and Arizona Orthopaedic Society.

 

 

American Health Care Act could devastate health care system, panelists say

NursingPhoto.jpgTucson Medical Center  – as well as other hospitals and health institutions across the country – will be under threat if 23 million people lose their insurance in the coming decade under the American Health Care Act.

That was the consensus of panelists at the Mayor’s Health Forum Tuesday, part of a series of forums taking place this week in cities across the state, from Phoenix to Flagstaff and Sedona.  The forum, held at the Pima County Housing Center, was organized by Planned Parenthood.

“Having access to health care means having access to affordable health care,” said Tucson Mayor Jonathan Rothschild, who served on the panel, which also included patients. “If you can’t afford it, you can’t access it.”

With uninsured rates are at historic lows, Rothschild said he had to change his general stance of staying out of federal policy. “Being mayor gives me plenty of do here locally, but this affects all of us – at the state and at the city level,” he said. “And if bad results occur and it is left to the cities to deal with it, we likely will not have the resources necessary to address it. So to me, this is personal.”

Julia Strange, the vice president of community benefit for TMC, said as the largest hospital in the city, TMC injects $740 million in economic impact into the region, supports nearly 6,000 jobs, cares for about 100,000 people a year in its emergency room, and reinvests millions back into the community in terms of education, outreach, charity care and other benefits.

“I tell you all of this because TMC will not be the same if the AHCA happens,” she cautioned.

After the Affordable Care Act brought coverage to 400,000 Arizonans, TMC’s charity care and bad debt plummeted from $25.8 million to $8 million. Unraveling that would undermine the viability of hospitals, which would ultimately impact everyone – from the vulnerable to the wealthy.

“Even if you have insurance from your employer or are extraordinarily wealthy, coming to the hospital is the great leveler,” Strange said. “In our country, we don’t have a healthcare system for the rich and a healthcare system for the poor: It is for the community as a whole, and we need to invest in it to make sure the services we need are available when we need them,” Strange said, adding it is a moral imperative to protect the most vulnerable.

Panelists urged attendees to share with their Senators, who are largely back in their districts, the need to reset the discussion to protect their constituents.

 


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