Heart of Hospice has the gift of appreciation

Mary Kay LeFevour, TMC Hopsice bereavement coordinator, named Heart of Hospice for the fourth quarter.

During the semiannual Celebrations of Life recognizing those who passed under the care of TMC Hospice, each family is given a specially handmade comfort charm.  These keepsakes for grieving families offer a reminder that their loved ones were cared for with dignity and respect. 

A sampling of ceramic comfort charms given to TMC Hospice families.

Credit for the comfort charm initiative goes to Mary Kay LeFevour, bereavement specialist for TMC Hospice, who has been named the Heart of Hospice for the fourth quarter.

“She has brought such beautiful gifts of appreciation to staff, volunteers, patients and their loved ones through her clay pieces,” wrote one anonymous nominator. 

While LeFevour, fondly known as MK around the department, is one of many who create the charms, she is the heart that keeps the effort going, in part, by coordinating efforts with local ceramicist Kelly Frink.

Ceramic ornaments are shared with patients and families who have been TMC staff or volunteers.

And that’s just emblematic of the way she is. 

“She gives these gifts with such genuine love and support you can’t help but want to do the same,” the nominator wrote. Additionally, current or former staff and volunteers who find themselves patients in TMC Hospice receive a unique ceramic ornament. Similarly, MK asked the artist to add ceramic luminaries to the mix to adorn certain patient rooms.

LeFevour began with TMC Hospice five years ago as a chaplain. The interfaith minister would provide back up for the bereavement coordinator and found she loved working with these families so transitioned when the position opened up.

As bereavement coordinator LeFevour has daily one-on-one sessions with bereaved families, reaches out via phone to check in with the bereaved, and being available for staff and volunteers for personal and work grief issues.

She also created the Grief 101 sessions for bereaved families teaching the four tasks of grief, which gives them tools they will need to navigate through their loss.

A natural speaker, she gives talks to volunteers, employees and various community partners sharing her knowledge on grief and loss.

“MK is an invaluable part of our team and has helped many people while she has worked here. We are so blessed to have her on our team!” wrote one nominator.

One thing her colleagues agree on is that it’s a pleasure to work with LeFevour.

“She is a delight to work with. She shows such compassion for her coworkers, clients and client families. She has a mischievous, wry sense of humor, sometimes, and a quiet presence at others.

That sense of humor can have a room in stitches in no time, such as during the Heart of Hospice celebration when she up and offered an Irish prayer, complete with the lilt of her heritage, “May you get to heaven 10 minutes before the Devil knows you’re dead.”

As Heart of Hospice for the quarter, LeFevour’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?

Learn about volunteering for TMC Hospice Home Care

A ‘reward better than anything else’ – Why a TMC employee volunteers



Employees are Tucson Medical Center’s greatest resource – the nearly 4,000 women and men who put patients and the community first – employees like Cindy Knowlton.

In the TMC financial services office, where Knowlton has worked for 15 years, you’re likely to hear complex, medical billing and fiduciary terms. For Knowlton, her dedication goes much further than facts and figures, and 8 to 5.

Choosing to give back

Knowlton has chosen to give back, investing hundreds of hours volunteering at the various TMC events throughout the year – helping fit bike helmets for children, providing free car seats, distributing healthy lifestyle information and many other endeavors that support the health and well-being of the community.

A dream come true

What has motivated Knowlton to become such a passionate and committed volunteer? “TMC was there for me, and I want to be there for TMC,” Knowlton said. “TMC is a very respectful place to work – they have provided great training, support and opportunities to grow my professional skills.”

In 2011, Knowlton was a single-mom working through the economic downturn. She still had dreams of owning her own home and TMC helped make her dream a reality.

“TMC was providing down payment assistance for employees who qualified,” explained Knowlton. “Owning my home has made an incredible difference in my life – and I’m glad to be a part of TMC’s community support efforts.”

A positive tired

Knowlton says there’s been an unexpected but satisfying aspect of volunteering. “It’s the stories from people in the community,” she said. “When a total stranger greets you with a hug and says ‘I have to tell you what TMC did for my family,’ it’s a great feeling.”

TMC presents at many well-attended events and Knowlton is candid about her efforts. “I’m tired after a volunteer shift, but it’s a positive tired,” she said. “It’s a tired that feels well-deserved because we’re making a difference – and it’s a prefect way of showing we’re not just a hospital, and that we’re caring for the community we serve.”

Better than anything else

Knowlton’s service means so much to her that she’s taken to recruiting others. “If you have the time to do it – you should do it,” she said. “The reward is much better than anything else.”

TMC nurse named Mrs. Arizona; heightens awareness of postpartum depression

Sarah Barrett.jpgSarah Barrett has been a nurse for more than six years, specializing in serving new mothers and babies.

And even though she helps screen new mothers for postpartum depression, it didn’t occur to her that the sadness she felt and the guilt she carried as a result were rooted in her own struggles with depression.

It wasn’t until she took the screening tool herself that it all clicked into place for the mother of three.

“My score was through the roof,” she recalled of that day in the spring of 2017. “It took seeing it in black and white to help me understand what I had been feeling.”

Barrett, who was recently crowned Mrs. Arizona and will compete in August in the Mrs. America pageant in Las Vegas, will spend a year traveling the state to bring awareness to an issue that many women are afraid to share for fear of being judged.

“I knew when I entered this that I wasn’t going to be afraid to say, ‘This happened to me,’ and to be an example,” said Barrett. “It can happen to anyone and it doesn’t mean you’re a bad person or a bad mother. It means you’re human and it’s time for the community to embrace and support these women.”

Barrett competed in pageants in college, gaining confidence and interviewing skills as she shared her platform then about pet ownership.

Then came marriage and three children. The first two, her girls, weren’t easy – she had pre-term labor with both, although she made it to term. But her son came four weeks early. “The medical side of me and the logical side of me knew it wasn’t my fault, but as a mother, I felt like I had let my family down,” she said. She cried alone in the hospital the next day, with her son in the newborn intensive care unit and missing her daughter’s fifth birthday party. Driving home from the hospital with an empty car seat was excruciating.

Sarah CrownedBarrett said she pushed down the feelings and resumed her life, only to have them all come crashing in again on his first birthday, when she saw the familiar social media posts that pull photos from a year ago. Seeing him so small and intubated sent her into a tailspin.

She got used to crying in the bedroom, wiping her eyes and putting on a smile for everyone else. Her marriage was strained. “You can’t meet other people’s needs and take care of them if you’re not taking care of yourself,” she said.

It was hearing a friend’s story that left her reaching for the screening survey. “It was so eye-opening for me. All this time, I thought I was alone and there was something wrong with me.”

It was only later she found that in many cases, postpartum depression is triggered by the unexpected: if a woman had planned for a vaginal birth but ended up with a C-section, for example, or if the baby comes early or if there was an unplanned diagnosis. “You formulate the perfect birth in your mind and then when you go home and it’s not that perfect birth, it can be really hard.”

She found healing in the pageant process. “The more I shared my story with women about what I went through, and the more they reciprocated back about what they went through, the more it helped me heal. So the bottom line is don’t be afraid to reach out to someone who you trust.”

Barrett credits TMC for screening every new mother and for its robust weekly postpartum depression group, as well as for its mandatory class for new moms before they go home that touches on everything from properly installing car seats to symptoms of depression to watch for.

Click here for more information about our postpartum and pregnancy depression support group.

She wants to ensure more health providers screen new moms and wants to bring more awareness to support partners, who need tools to share what they’re witnessing. “You want to be careful about how you open those lines of communication: How are you feeling? How are you coping with being a new mother? I know it must be hard getting sleep right now.”

Barrett said her marriage of 11 years is stronger than ever, and she’s found joy in being with her family. She’s also proud of her new role. “This is something we decided to do as a family, so I got the OK from all of them that we would do this. It’s been an amazing experience to be surrounded by these women who are passionate about a cause and involved in making a difference in their communities.”

Need more information about our Postpartum and Pregnancy Depression Support Group? Click here. 

Celebrating our Fab 50 Nurses: Jenna Carbone

Jenna CarboneTMC Intensive Care Unit nurse Jenna Carbone approaches her work with intense focus and singular caring for many of the most critically ill patients on her unit.

A nurse for six years, Carbone always knew she was meant to be a nurse.

“Even as a little girl, when my dad would come home from biking with cactus in his legs, I would get out my light and tweezers and pick each one out,” she recalled.

Since then, she not only graduated with honors, but also holds Critical Care and NIH stroke certifications to enable her to provide care to the highest acuity patients, including those with neurologic injuries. She’s also dedicated thousands of hours over the years to new graduate and student nurses.

Carbone, who is close to her parents and her family, credits her great grandfather, who was a stubborn, hard-headed kind of guy, with teaching her patience. And she has a deep commitment to getting to know the people she is serving in the Intensive Care Unit.

“It’s really great to get to know the families,” she said. “You know what you are fighting for. They are able to tell you about the patient and their personality.”

As much as she fights for her patients, she has had to learn that not every patient can be saved. She has been with patients at their deaths and participated in ceremonies at the end of their lives. “Because of my faith, I am comfortable with death and it is an honor to serve someone who is at the end of their life. My mom is a deeply faithful woman and when she gets bad news, she always says she knows that God has a plan for her.”

Carbone may cry at commercials for the Olympics, but she’s strong when it comes to patient care. “I don’t get emotional in the moment or at work. You have to know how to help and be a shoulder for others to cry on.”

Tucson Nurses Week Foundation recognizes, publicizes, and supports the accomplishments, innovations, and contributions of nurses to the health of our community by honoring 50 outstanding nurses as the Fabulous 50. Well done Jenna on being nominated and recognized as one of Tucson’s Fab 50. nurses 


Celebrating our Fab 50 Nurses: Sherilyn Wollman

Sherilyn Wollman.jpgIt never occurred to Sherilyn Wollman that she’d be a nurse.

She wasn’t one of those kids who played with stethoscopes or brandished bandages with authority. In fact, a hospital seemed like a scary place when she was growing up.

She went into the military as an IS specialist and a young mother. When her tour of duty was up, she made plans to become an elementary teacher, which was a job she had always yearned to do.

But her sister at the time encouraged her to enroll in a class to become a certified nursing assistant and asked her to just try it.

“On my first day, it was where I knew I belonged,” she recalled. “It was that whole experience of being able to make a difference in someone’s life, even if you’re just touching someone for that one day when they really need help.”

She remembers the moment she decided she wanted to continue her education and become a nurse. A patient had come in, alone and restless and in the final stages of dying. Wollman and the nurse talked with her and reassured her. “It was deeply moving to be there with her during that transition, because it was clear she knew we were there for her. It made me look differently at everything I do.”

Over the course of many years, she continued working on her skills and career, eventually obtaining her masters of nursing.

Ultimately, Wollman was able to marry her goal of teaching with her passion for nursing by becoming a clinical educator and helping other staff members with skills development and career advancement. “I’m no longer at the bedside, but I feel like I am still making a difference in a different way,” said Wollman, who has been at TMC for 13 years. “What I’m able to provide helps them provide great care at the bedside.”

Wollman’s compassion comes in part from her upbringing: she was adopted by her grandparents when she was 8. “I learned a lot about giving to others by watching them,” she said. “I think the kindness I learned from them helped foster in me a desire to help other people.”

Wollman, who said she was shocked and humbled when she was recognized as a Fab 50 nurse, invests a lot of energy in supporting new graduate nurses. Her tips for novice nurses?

  • Continue developing your skills
  • Always seek educational opportunities
  • Find a mentor to share different perspectives and broaden horizons
  • Care for yourself so you can are for others

Her final piece of advice? Treat others with respect and listen. “Everyone has something to teach.”

Tucson Nurses Week Foundation recognizes, publicizes, and supports the accomplishments, innovations, and contributions of nurses to the health of our community by honoring 50 outstanding nurses as the Fabulous 50. Well done Sherilyn on being nominated and recognized as one of Tucson’s Fab 50.

Celebrating our Fab 50 Nurses: Julie Seidl

Julie Seidl.jpgIn her 40-plus year career as a nurse in the Newborn Intensive Care Unit, Julie Seidl has undoubtedly had an impact on the lives of hundreds of infants and parents. But in all that time, including 20 years spent at the bedside, one set of triplets and their parents made a lasting and indelible mark on her.

“The triplets will be 21 in April and I’ve been best friends with their mom since we met in the NICU,” said Seidl.

The youngest of the triplets, all born at just over two pounds, turned out to be her very last patient at the bedside before transitioning to a new role in the hospital. “They are my legacy. It’s a privilege that I have been able to share their whole life,” she said. “They are great examples of what the future can hold for premature babies.”

For 21 years they have shared many special moments … holidays, birthdays and even vacations together. “It’s funny because as a nurse, you always care about all of your patients, but you are a professional. It was different when I met them though – we just felt like family,” said Seidl.

“I’m so grateful because sometimes as a nurse you wonder, ‘Did I make a difference in someone’s life?’”

Another piece of her career legacy is the innovative Infant After Care Program she developed, along with TMC Pediatric Outpatient Therapies, to provide ongoing follow-up care for premature babies for their first two years. “To be ready to enter the world, the promise of Mother Nature is 40 weeks in the womb,” she explained. “When you come early, you’re not ready in body or in brain development. And the brain is the piece that often gets overlooked. With the After Care Program, we can spot those little hiccups and work to rewire the brain before it’s a bigger problem.”

A baby floating in the womb is surrounded by quiet, hearing their mother’s voice and heartbeat. If that time is cut short, they are tasked with breathing, seeing and fighting gravity before they are ready, she said. Seidl’s work as an Infant Development Specialist includes educating staff and parents how to best mimic the womb by creating a calm, quiet environment without bright lights and wrapping the baby as they would be in-utero – flexed and tucked.

The TMC Infant After Care Program is free to any infant born before 36 weeks of gestation at TMC thanks to a grant from the TMC Foundation.

“This program is the best thing that I could do at the end of my career,” says Seidl. Not that she’s going anywhere any time soon. “I truly love what I do.”

Tucson Nurses Week Foundation recognizes, publicizes, and supports the accomplishments, innovations, and contributions of nurses to the health of our community by honoring 50 outstanding nurses as the Fabulous 50. Well done Julie on being nominated and recognized as one of Tucson’s Fab 50.

Celebrating our Fab 50 Nurses: Damiana Cohen

Damiana CohenDamiana Cohen, manager of the Mother Baby and Women’s Care Units at Tucson Medical Center took an interest in birth when she was 12 and happened upon a book about midwifery.

The road to nursing didn’t come right after high school though; she took a non-traditional path and along the way collected a number of experiences, from three years of college, to travel in South America, to driving a school bus and waiting tables.

But she never lost that fascination with the stories of birth, and she went to school to become a licensed midwife, ultimately spending more than 12 years with families who wanted to have birth experiences at home.

When it was time for a new chapter, Cohen went to nursing school – a decision she’s never regretted because of the experiences that unfolded from there, from working with marginalized populations to teenagers finding their way in the world.

Cohen spent 12 years working as a forensic nurse performing post-sexual assault exams and on that time she reflects, “That really and truly was my passion. Not always, but a lot of times, it’s the marginalized people in a society who are victimized. And in some ways, it was a bit like being a midwife, because you’re there with somebody, one-on-one, helping them through this very intense situation. It’s smart, autonomous nursing, it’s scientific, it’s about human rights and a person’s dignity – and I would go home and feel like I really impacted someone’s life.”

Cohen spent three years working as a school nurse with pregnant and parenting teenagers. “Hardly any of them had a parent figure in their lives, so I could be that presence to tell them what so few had a chance to hear: That they mattered and I cared. I wanted them to be empowered to be parents while still having their lives and finishing their education.” She still connects from time to time with some of those students; many of whom were inspired to become nurses.

“I think I’ve enjoyed my nursing career because I’ve done so many different things,” Cohen said. “Life has offered me opportunities that I haven’t foreseen. And I’ve always believed that when something comes your way, it’s good to reflect on what the universe is offering you and take a moment to listen.”

Just as she’s had many careers, she has many facets outside of work – a mom to her sons, now 25 and 29, a runner, a hiker, an organic gardener, a film fanatic, a reader, a cat lover, a supporter of women and equality, a birdwatcher and nature lover, a lifelong learner, a traveler, a thinker, a seeker, and a sister and a friend.

And through all that, her underlying motto is, “Be a good human.”

“I find that when I do that, everything else seems to fall into place.”

Tucson Nurses Week Foundation recognizes, publicizes, and supports the accomplishments, innovations, and contributions of nurses to the health of our community by honoring 50 outstanding nurses as the Fabulous 50. Well done Damiana on being nominated and recognized as one of Tucson’s Fab 50.


Celebrating our Fab 50 Nurses: Veronica Riesgo

Veronica RiesgoFor TMC Nurse Manager Veronica Riesgo, her dedication to patients and her coworkers goes beyond the profession and is part of her passion to make a positive impact on people’s lives.

Riesgo’s first priority and first career was her family. “I was a stay-at-home mom for 13 years,” she said.  “But I always had a desire to help others and I always thought about pursuing work in nursing.”

When her children reached ages in double-digits, Riesgo volunteered at a local hospital to see if the desire was still there. “The passion was stronger than ever,” she said. “Soon I was enrolled in nursing school and working full-time as a patient care technician (PCT).”

As a full-time PCT, a full-time student and a full-time mom, there wasn’t much room on Riesgo’s plate. “I wouldn’t change anything – it was so beneficial and rewarding.”

After graduating and becoming an RN, Riesgo never slowed down – working in cardo-thoracic, transplant, ICU and other high-acuity units. “It is challenging, but when you have that opportunity to help someone on what might be their worst day – it is very meaningful,” explained Riesgo.

With remarkable stress and a dizzying pace, high-acuity units have a reputation for burn-out. For Riesgo, a unique outlook has helped her thrive in the demanding environment and kept her coming back, day-after-day.

“It’s a dedication to people, not just the profession,” she said. “A dedication to the patients and the incredible nurses I work with. We know that no matter what happens or how hard the day is, we’re going to make it happen, together.”

This incredible attitude, combined with her knowledge of critical care and strong organizational skills paved the way to management positions where she has achieved notable successes, such as helping reduce the patient injury rate by 45 percent in just one year.

Now managing a 36-bed, combined critical care unit with more than 100 staff reporting to her, Riesgo was named one of the 2018 Fabulous 50 nurses. “I’m so honored,” she said. “I’m grateful for my experiences and the nurses I work with every day.”

Advice from a Fab 50 nurse? “When you put others first, it changes your perspective and you recognize that you are involved in something bigger than yourself.”

Tucson Nurses Week Foundation recognizes, publicizes, and supports the accomplishments, innovations, and contributions of nurses to the health of our community by honoring 50 outstanding nurses as the Fabulous 50. Well done Veronica on being nominated and recognized as one of Tucson’s Fab 50.

Celebrating our Fab 50 Nurses: Charles Bascom

Charles BascomA physician yells “stat,” labs and med orders fly, nurses and techs scurry at a fevered pace. For staff, the Emergency Department can be an extraordinarily stressful environment, but that’s not what first comes to the mind of ED Lead Nurse Charles ‘Will’ Bascom.

“Our responsibility is to give 150 percent and treat each patient like they are family,” said Bascom. The longtime ED nurse began his career as an EMT/firefighter and moved into nursing after experiencing a serious injury. He completed his training in the ED and garnered experiences in psychiatric, float and critical care venues.

“At first, I worked in several nursing care settings – but I always ended up coming back to the ED.” So, what is it that kept Bascom returning to one of healthcare’s most challenging environments?

“Being there for patients and their families during one of their toughest times,” Bascom said confidently. “For any nurse, in any setting, it’s challenging and you never know what situation is going to walk through that door, but at the end of the day it is so rewarding to know you made a difference in a patient’s life.”

For Bascom, providing exceptional care with compassion goes hand-in-hand. “If you make the effort to show that you really care, patients will pick-up on your sincere intent,” he said. “They will feel more comfortable sharing important things about their health that will help you provide even better care.”

Respected for observing best practices, Bascom is also known for adhering to strict safety standards. “You have to keep your head in the game, be mindful, and ask questions to ensure the best for patients and ED coworkers.”

Yet, some still ask how Bascom consistently provides such outstanding care, shift-after-shift and year-after-year. “It’s about your motivation,” he said. “It has to be more than a title or a paycheck. If you’re in this because you have a passion for helping people – the reward is ten-fold.”

In addition to his busy schedule, Bascom is attending graduate school to become a family nurse practitioner. “This next step is very important to me because I will be able to do even more for the community and patient population.”

Tucson Nurses Week Foundation recognizes, publicizes, and supports the accomplishments, innovations, and contributions of nurses to the health of our community by honoring 50 outstanding nurses as the Fabulous 50. Well done Will on being nominated and recognized as one of Tucson’s Fab 50.

TMC for Seniors director honored with Remarkable Mom recognition

IMG_0021Maya Luria’s heart shred watching her 17-year-old daughter, Kelsey, struggle in her battle with a rare and aggressive form of leukemia.

One painful memory was watching her daughter see herself for the first time during chemotherapy treatment without the long blonde locks that were such a hallmark for the high school senior.

But that was before she watched the surprisingly transformative power of a professional photo shoot, when she watched Kelsey ditch her wig and then light up, laugh and pose. It was an unplanned event – just a kind gesture from an acquaintance. But Kelsey had realized – hair or no – those resulting images reflected her own strength, confidence and determination.

She wanted other children and families to feel that same sense of empowerment in the face of what can be an unrelenting disease. In the hospital, Kelsey said she wanted the service to be called the Bald Beauties Project and it would offer free professional photographs to children and teens fighting cancer.

Drawn to journalism, writing and sports, the Catalina Foothills High student had planned to beat the disease and attend the University of Arizona. She passed away a few days after her 18th birthday.

Luria has kept Kelsey’s spirit alive by leading the Bald Beauties Project her daughter envisioned – an accomplishment that is being recognized at the annual Remarkable Celebration by Tu Nidito that this year is honoring five local mothers.

“Kelsey once wrote that she would change the world and this is our way of honoring that,” Luria said. “This was her vision and something I want to continue to offer to others as a way to help families who are going through unthinkable strain.”

Luria, also mom to 17-year-old Max – the light of her life and now a high school senior – has treasured those photos of her daughter.

Since its inception, the Bald Beauties Project has provided more than 85 photo shoots for children throughout the community – and the demand continues to grow. There have already been 15 photo shoots this year, with another 10 in process.

“I feel every mom is a remarkable mom, so I was really honored to be considered for this recognition,” Luria said, and especially since Kelsey gave her back so much. “Kelsey lived her life with strength and courage and love – and that’s something I hold with me every day.”

To read more about Bald Beauties, please visit the Bald Beauties Project website.  

To learn more about the Remarkable Moms being honored May 12, please visit Tu Nidito’s website 

An Emergency Room Visit: A Patient’s View

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

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

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

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

Signs of a stroke

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

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

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

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

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

Bell’s Palsy

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

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

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

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

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

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

TMC nurse helped make wedding dream come true for one couple

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

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

Cutting the cake at hospital wedding

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

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

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

With that, a wedding came together.


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

hospital wedding rings

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

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

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

Nominate an extraordinary nurse for the DAISY award

Mission Moment: Bringing comfort to a patient in need

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Send it to Communications@tmcaz.com.


Mission Moment: Two hearts, two stories and a stocking

Marlise and baby in stockingBridget Stith’s Story

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

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

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

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

Marlise Mackey’s Story

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

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

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

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

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

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

Marlise and Bridget

Two Hearts

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Mission 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.

Military service shaped TMC Imaging Director

danfelix3 (002)Every day is Veteran’s Day for Air Force veteran Dan Felix. There will be no parades or fanfare for him today. Instead, he will go to work to serve, shaped by his service in the Air Force.

Felix, the director of imaging at TMC, joined right after graduating from his high school in his rural, mining community of Hayden. There were 43 students in his graduating class.

A first generation U.S. citizen, whose parents hailed from Mexico, Felix was drawn to military service. “I wanted to give back to the country that allowed my parents to raise a family in America with all the benefits we all enjoy,” Felix explained. He’d seen firsthand great poverty in Mexico. “We had health care, clothing, food, money. From a young age, I learned to appreciate the opportunities and luxuries   our great country had to offer.”

The Air Force provided structure, taught him to develop his natural qualities of perseverance and patience, and challenged him to keep growing. He appreciated the mines – his father and brothers retired from that work – but he didn’t want it for himself. He signed up for college classes, obtaining associate’s degrees in X-ray technology and later, nuclear medicine. A bachelor’s in medical and imaging technology followed. He is now one class away from a master’s degree in leadership.

The transition was a natural one. “X-ray has some parallels to the technical work I was doing in the Air Force – there’s electronics and physics and you’re working with your hands – and that’s combined with an intellectual component.”

It was nuclear medicine that stole his heart. He initially told his instructor there was no way he was going to like it. But Day One he was besotted. “Just the sound of it is intriguing, but beyond that, you’re in the physics world, talking about radiation at its origin. I was living in this cerebral realm I had aspired to my whole life.”

He ended up joining Tucson Medical Center in 1999 to train in nuclear medicine. He never left.

“As I look back and analyze the mission of the military and TMC, they dovetail,” he said, noting both exist to serve others and play a role in providing for the greater good of everybody else.

He never takes the day off for Veteran’s Day. “I am so appreciative of being able to come into work to help others – the patients we serve, the workers who make up this hospital – and to provide for my family. I take a lot of pride in those three things, so if you think about that, why wouldn’t I want to work?”

That doesn’t mean he won’t spend some time reflecting on those who serve. “Joining the military at a young age means leaving your comfort, your home, your family and everything you know that is normal, and embarking into a huge world of unknowns,” he said.

“When I think about veterans, I think about those who decided to take a risk and take a leap of faith for the sake of their country. It’s not just a job. It’s a sacrifice for others – and I don’t think that’s easily understood unless you’re the one doing the sacrificing.”

Powerlifting helped channel despair, helplessness after loss to domestic violence

When Rachel Tineo’s 24-year-old niece was murdered in a domestic violence incident by the father of her three children, Tineo didn’t know how to fathom the depth of her loss.

Tina Soto had been like a daughter to her – and that someone intentionally and senselessly took her life in front of her young children in June 2013 left Tineo full of rage.

“It’s not something you have a coping mechanism for,” said Tineo, a senior business systems analyst at Tucson Medical Center. “I would go home, talk to my husband, play with the dogs and get up and go to work again the next day – but it wasn’t enough. I had all these built-up feelings, including sadness, anger and depression.”

Something had to change.

Tineo had already been health-conscious. She was a runner. She ate clean.

A part of her thought she should just stick to her kettlebells and running routine. Another part felt it was time to jolt herself out of her comfort zone. She went to her trainer and explained, “I want to bring more to the table because I need it to get through every day.”

“It wasn’t until I started powerlifting that I was able to control the feelings I had. Whether I was deadlifting or bench pressing or squatting, I was taking all those feelings and putting them into buckets in my brain. And I would fill those buckets up with positive energy and that energy would eat up all of those negative thoughts. When I lift, I pick up that bar and I let it take everything away from me.”

Over the course of 6-8 months, she started feeling better.

By November 2014, she had enrolled in her first competition. In that first competition, she bench pressed 110 pounds, did 245 pounds on a deadlift and squatted 120 pounds.

“Powerlifting made me a stronger person physically, emotionally, mentally and intellectually.” It also gave her a ready-made support group, ready to cheer her on to challenge herself to bigger and better accomplishments.

After she started lifting, she started sharing her story publicly, hoping to raise awareness about domestic violence and help erase stigma. Tina had been too ashamed to tell anyone about what had been happening to her for the previous three years.

Serving as an advocate helps give her purpose, even though it is emotionally exhausting each time she relives the story. “I felt I really needed to do this for Tina.”

She will have her seventh competition on Saturday. She’s set a goal of squatting 231 pounds, bench pressing 145 and deadlifting 308.

To this day, Tineo still relies on powerlifting as a form of therapy to get through life’s everyday stresses, as well as the knowledge that Tina is gone.

She’s also kicked up her running program, signing up for a half marathon in March 2018.

Tineo said she’d love to eventually lift with her grandchildren. In the interim, she’s teaching them about respecting themselves – from what they put in their mouths to the activities they do and the way they treat others.

“It’s important to be nice to each other and not say mean things to hurt each other. It’s important to respect boundaries. Ultimately, domestic violence is a learned behavior. If it’s learned, it can be unlearned.”





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!​

Courageous TMC nurse takes on suicide stigma

Jason CuttingSeptember 10 – 16 is National Suicide Prevention Week – reduce the stigma, start a conversation and #StopSuicide.

Jason Cutting wanted to be in the middle of it all. He loved the arts and entertaining. RENT was his favorite musical, and he knew every word to every song. He put his heart into everything he did, whether crushing a performance in My Fair Lady or advocating for equal rights, regardless of sexual orientation.

Through it all, he struggled long and hard with mental illness. Even though Jason was lost to the disease when he died by suicide, he will always be a brave big brother to his sister, Sarah. She decided not to allow stigma to steal the focus from Jason’s beautiful memory.

Sarah, an Emergency Department nurse, is leading the effort to eradicate the stigma that surrounds suicide as the TMC champion for Tucson’s  Out of the Darkness Community Walk, an annual event hosted by the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.

Suicide StigmaHard to say, hard to hear

The heart-wrenching loss of suicide – and the stigma around it – make conversations about it difficult.

“I didn’t even know how I was going to talk about it, because I was afraid people would judge, or react with shock or pity,” she said.

Sarah, though, was determined to make a difference and put aside her fears, directly challenging stigma. The open dialogue had an unexpected and positive result. “I found healing in talking about my brother, and I was surprised how many people approached me who have also lost someone to suicide.”

Better understanding, better prevention

Sarah also explained that more discussion brought about a better understanding of suicide.

Sarah Cutting“When survivors share their experiences, people will hear that suicide is not a selfish act,” she said. “Rather, people hear just how intensely someone was suffering, how they truly felt hopeless and believed they were a burden to all around them.”

Sarah believes that better understanding will lead to action. “With this knowledge, people will be motivated to learn the warning signs and feel more comfortable talking to someone they think may be having suicidal thoughts.”



You can have an impact

Out of the DarknessThe Tucson Out of the Darkness Community Walk is open to all, and free to attend. “This is a way to honor the memories of those we have lost to suicide, and the best way to start discussions and spread awareness,” said Sarah. “Join us!”


Walk Date: 10/14/2017                                                                 

Walk Location: Reid Park 

Check-in/Registration Time:  8:00 am

Walk Begins: 10:00 am

Walk Ends: 11:00 am

Donations can be made via Sarah’s donor page. Please note that all proceeds go to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.


Suicide warning signs and risk factors

Pima County assistance resources

AZ Department of Veterans Services resources

National suicide hotline

The Trevor Project

Pima County Crisis Response Center: (520) 622-6000 or 1-866-495-6738


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.

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.

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.”



Every interaction a mentoring opportunity to help others build confidence, find success

CherylYoungCheryl Young, the Lean Transformation Officer at Tucson Medical Center, was recently named Most Inspirational Mentor of the Year by the Tucson Nurses Week Foundation, an award that promotes the growth and support of professional nurses in the community.

As one nomination notes:

“Her belief is that nurses should be teaching on a daily basis, and also learning on a daily basis. She is consistently approachable and willing to share her knowledge with everyone.

She creates the vision and possibilities for our future culture and processes, and consistently strives through coaching and mentoring to get us closer to that realization.”

We caught up with Cheryl to talk about the importance of serving as a role model and coach to other nurses.

I’ve wanted to be a nurse since I was 3, when my mother bought me the Little Golden Book “Nurse Nancy.” It had a package of Band-Aids in the back that my mom would refill so I could keep patching up my two older brothers.

But what that career has looked like, and the shapes it has taken, has been the result of many voices.

Without each of their contributions at different places along the way, I wouldn’t be in this space, where I have had an amazing opportunity to help this organization – and the people who work here – improve what we do every day.

The recognition is very special to me, even though I don’t feel like what I do is particularly special. It feels like normal life: Something more like a neighborhood potluck than black-tie formal.

Just as opportunities within nursing are endless, the ability to support one another on those varied career paths is something we can do more often than we might realize.

Mentorships don’t have to be a formal relationship. There are formal mentoring programs, and we do them here at TMC, but for me, mentoring has broader applications.

Grandparents who make you a better person; parents who keep you motivated; older brothers who shared their career decisions; the seasoned nurse in ICU who took time to teach me skill sets and prompted me to think critically. Those are all forms of mentorship. It’s every time you gave words of encouragement, offered advice, or asked questions such as, “What are your goals? Where do you see yourself in five years?”

I think all of my bosses in one way or another have served as a mentor to me. Our interactions – whether good or bad – led me in different directions.  Early in my career, a charge nurse, who was a great mentor, gave me the confidence to know that I had the knowledge base to do critical care. A lot of what a mentor does is help you build the self-esteem you lack and get you to a place where you can say, “I can do this.”

Mentors don’t provide the answers. Mentors ask the right questions. They should get you thinking, stimulate the thought process, and provide feedback – not answer the question for you.

Help mentees find the source of their motivation. When people come to me and say they feel like they handled a situation badly and want to know how they could have handled it differently, we have a conversation. It’s important for them to figure out the “why” behind their response. What did the other person do or say – or what is it about them overall – that triggered that response? Once we get to the root of that, we can take a step back and think about how they might handle that situation differently in the future. You’ve got to have people in your life to serve as your sounding board, and provide honest feedback or you can’t improve.

Everyone is a mentor. For me, a mentor is a person you go to when you have a difficult decision to make and you are not sure which path to take. Every staff member here and every interaction can meet that definition if you take every opportunity to look for the positive outcomes and see how you might do things differently. Even when you’re a brand new nurse, you’re mentoring people. You’re mentoring your patients and family members to either help them get better or learn to deal with whatever it is life has given them that brought them into the hospital.

Over the Edge for Girl Scouts – Cindy Qu

cindy qu

Cindy Qu – Clinical Nutrition and Diabetes Education manager

Cindy Qu, manager of Clinical Nutrition and Diabetes Education for TMC, is a long-time supporter of the Girl Scouts of Southern Arizona. This year she’s taking her support to new heights and will be going Over the Edge to raise money for the organization.

Qu, along with TMC’s Frank Marini and 78 other participants, will rappel down the 17 stories of 5151 E. Broadway Blvd. “Cindy is embodying the Girl Scout’s mission to build girls of courage, confidence and character; girls who make the world a better place, by modelling the courage and strength we hope to build in young girls in community,” said Julia Strange, vice president of TMC Community Benefit and a board member of the local Girl Scout council.

Until 24 hours ago Qu and Marini lead the Over the Edge fund-raising tally, when they were overtaken. While Marini still leads the pair, Qu has made headway and is now within $200 of Marini’s leading total. When asked if he was worried that Qu might topple him from his position on the fundraising total, Marini said, “I’m immensely proud of TMC’s representation at this event, and if a little competition between Cindy and me results in more programming for the Girl Scouts in our community then we’re all winners.”

Go Team TMC! To support Cindy Qu check out her Over the Edge fund-raising page.

All donations are 100 percent tax deductible and will support the Girl Scouts’ programming to more than 7,000 girls across Pima, Cochise, Santa Cruz, Greenlee, Graham and Yuma counties.


Frank Marini goes Over the Edge to help Girl Scouts reach new heights

Frank-2Eighty brave community members are rising to the challenge to help girls in our community with the Girl Scouts of Southern Arizona’s Over the Edge 2017. These participants will suit up Saturday, March 25, in harnesses and helmets and careen down the 17 floors of one of the tallest buildings in Tucson, 5151 E. Broadway.

Among those participants is Tucson Medical Center’s very own Frank Marini. For most people, rappelling off a 17-story building sounds more than a little daunting, it sounds completely crazy! For Marini, chief information officer at TMC, it’s just the kind of challenge he loves.

Marini, an avid mountaineer, has made it to the summits of four of the so-called “Seven Summits,” the highest peaks on each continent – Mount Kilimanjaro in east Africa, Aconcagua in Argentina, Mt. Elbrus in Europe and Mount McKinley in Alaska. Marini revels in the physical and mental challenge of mountaineering. But for this upcoming endeavor, the challenge is to help others reach new heights.

Each participant collects donations in support of the Girl Scouts of Southern Arizona. Every penny stays right here in Southern Arizona helping girls in our community access programs that emphasize hands-on learning, life-skills development, service-learning projects, self-esteem building, financial literacy, career exploration and building sisterhood.

Marini’s support of the Girl Scouts’ mission to foster leadership and independence in young women has a personal perspective. “As a parent to both a girl and a boy, I want to make sure that my daughter has all the same opportunities as my son,” he said. “I understand the value and impact of outdoor activities in building character. Encouraging girls to reach their full potential helps us all in our community. This is also just going to be a lot of fun.”

“By going Over the Edge, Frank is helping foster leadership in half of the next generation that still, today, doesn’t have the same opportunities to lead,” said Julia Strange, vice president of TMC Community Benefit and a board member of the local Girl Scout council.

“A Girl Scout hashtag says it all: #ToGetHerThere,” said Strange, who went Over the Edge in 2015. Marini will make the descent at 11:35am.  Support Marini going Over the Edge by clicking here.


TMC information technology specialist prepares to dance for diapers

MichaelGriffisMichael Griffis is no stranger to movement. He kicks soccer balls, rides a bicycle and swings tennis rackets on a weekly basis.

But when he started practicing tango for his upcoming performance to raise funds for the Diaper Bank of Southern Arizona, muscles that were used to fast-twitch sports motion suddenly started protesting at the slow, sustained movement demanded in the sultry dance.

Griffis, director of Information Services at TMC, hasn’t had to break out the dance moves since his high school musical years –but he’s nothing if not an avid competitor as he enters the final weeks of his Dancing With Our Stars tenure.

“Strategies are top secret and we’ve had to be pretty sneaky since several other professional dancers dance where we practice,” he said.

He’s most concerned about fellow competitor Nathan Stupiansky from UA Health Sciences. “He looks like a contender – like the kind of guy who could really get down on the dance floor,” he said. But he’s feeling pretty confident, with professional dancer Amanda Skaff in his corner. Her mom, Elizabeth, works at TMC as a nurse in neurosurgery, so Amanda’s hometown connection is helping to inspire Griffis to bring the drama to the dance floor.

Joking aside, Griffis said he is honored to play a role in supporting the nonprofit. “I really appreciate the work they do in the community to help the underserved get the basic products they need, whether that’s young children or aging adults,” Griffis said.

The annual Dancing With Our Stars fundraiser is based on the popular ABC series “Dancing with the Stars,” and Griffis said he’s looking forward to the upcoming season. “I think I’ll be rooting for actor and comedian Chris Kattan,” he said. “Maybe he will bring out some ‘Night at the Roxbury’ moves.”

Show your support with a vote for Michael and Amanda! Each vote costs just $10 and along with the prestige it brings to the winning dance couple, the Diaper Bank is able to distribute $30 worth of incontinence supplies to the most vulnerable members of our community.


AZPM’s ‘Feeding our Future’ features TMC director of Food Services


Food & Nutrition Services Director Beth Dorsey buys organic produce from local farms for TMC.

Beth Dorsey, TMC’s director of Food & Nutrition Services, is featured in Farmers and Market, the final segment of the nine-part Arizona Public Media series, Feeding Our Future.

The hospital buys about 300 pounds of fresh produce a month through the Community Food Bank of Southern Arizona’s Farm-to-Institution food brokerage business. The partnership helps ensure a market for local farmers and fresh organic produce for TMC’s staff, patients and visitors.

Produced by Laura Markowitz, the radio series features stories of the innovative work being done to feed families, promote health and food security, prepare for climate change, and create pathways out of poverty. The series was made possible with support from the Zuckerman Family Foundation.

Episode 1 aired Sept. 16, 2016, and the final episode airs today and tomorrow, on NPR 89.1/FM. Tune in to Arizona Spotlight, or visit  https://radio.azpm.org/kuaz.azspotlight/ to hear all the episodes.

TMC recognized for efforts to hire employees with disabilities

When Tucson Medical Center’s Food and Nutrition Services teamed up with WorkAbility, a nonprofit designed to support people with disabilities in obtaining meaningful employment, the mutual benefits soon became apparent.

As a result of working together, Tucson Medical Center has since been connected with a committed and dedicated employee, Henry “Koa” Figueroa, who in turn has been able to find sustainable work among compassionate colleagues.

But that connection may not have happened without the advocacy of WorkAbility’s job coaches who not only helped the Food and Nutrition Services leadership team communicate effectively with an employee with autism, but assisted in ensuring they had a good grasp of Koa’s skill sets and limits.

By shadowing Koa through on-site training, WorkAbility coaches also teach coping strategies to the employees for managing the stimulation that can come from a workspace with intense bustle and noise.

Vanessa Zuber, director of the WorkAbility program sponsored by the nonprofit organization UCP of Southern Arizona, noted, “Establishing partnerships with our employers is key to successful transition for both WorkAbility job seekers and employers. Job coaching is not only a benefit for the client but also a benefit to the employer.”

Their assistance was invaluable, from the perspective of department director Beth Dorsey. “As an employer, your expectations are the same of your employees. We are uncompromising about the quality of the work we do in our kitchen – but the way you go about communicating those standards, and supporting your employee in reaching them, requires a different approach than you might typically use,” she said.

“We originally became involved in the program because it’s the right thing to do, what we’ve learned since is that quite aside from the value we place on the contributions of our colleague, this has been an invaluable experience for our culture and our team in learning about how to successfully navigate differences.”

Koa also said he appreciated the partnership. “I am thankful for being recruited. Working with Tucson Medical Center has taught me the value of hard work and keeping the dishes clean.”

TMC was pleased to be nominated from WorkAbility for its Employer of the Year Award.  Although TMC did not win, nominees will be recognized at the Nov. 17 luncheon.

Zuber said TMC was worthy of the recognition, not only for inviting WorkAbility to provide disability awareness training to staff, but also for communicating regularly with WorkAbility to provide assistance, and welcoming the group as a team player in TMC’s work culture. “The WorkAbility members that have been employed by TMC have been challenged to do their best and have gained so many skills,” Zuber said. “It’s a win-win partnership.”


Clinical Documentation Improvement Week: Ensuring a complete, accurate medical record

Sept 19-23 marks Clinical Documentation Improvement Week. The Tucson Medical Center Clinical Documentation Improvement team is a group of eight dedicated and experienced registered nurses who review records concurrently and retrospectively to obtain detailed, appropriate documentation.

They work with physicians and other providers to present a complete record to coding and billing departments. Their efforts provide accurate reimbursement to the hospital from Medicare and other insurances, including AHCCCS, as well as provide accurate data for TMC’s quality metrics.

The TMC Clinical Documentation Team from left sitting: Lisa Benson R.N., Vivien Bertram R.N., CDI Lead Patrice Kleber R.N. and Karen Daranyi R.N. From left standing: Sara Gadde RN, Kathleen Early RN, Susan Knight RN, Ron Singell RN

The TMC Clinical Documentation Team from left sitting: Lisa Benson R.N., Vivien Bertram R.N., CDI Lead Patrice Kleber R.N. and Karen Daranyi R.N. From left standing: Sara Gadde R.N., Kathleen Early R.N., Susan Knight R.N. and Ron Singell R.N.


TMC: Getting its kind on

mural 1 Triple digit temperatures didn’t dampen enthusiasm for dozens of Tucson Medical Center employees and volunteers who took shifts over Friday and Saturday to install a “Be Kind” mosaic mural in a patio near the Gift Shop.

The Kindness Patio was the latest evolution in TMC’s participation in the Ben’s Bells Kind Colleagues program, which asks businesses and organizations to place a priority on building a positive workspace.

The mural’s roots date to 2014, when TMC agreed to accept a Ben’s Bells kindness challenge and document 1 ,000 acts of kindness. Employees, patients and volunteers helped TMC surpass its goal, with 1 ,240 acts of kindness.

Earlier this year, Ben’s Bells Founder Jeannette Mare led a conversation on kindness for TMC managers, directors and executives, touching on scientific research around the power of kindnemural 2ss to heal, and tailored to the specific opportunities available in health care to practice self-kindness to reduce stress and boost productivity.

During Hospital Week at the beginning of May, staff volunteered to make the tiles that would become the mural. Hope Thomas, the director of community programs for Tucson Medical Center, said the choice to put the mural inside the campus, instead of on an exterior wall with greater public visibility, was a conscious one.

“We know our employees appreciate our relationship with Ben’s Bells and the work we’ve done to become a kind colleague in the community,” she said. “We wanted to find a space where they would have a chance to see the mural and where it could reinforce the work that we do here every day – particularly since the practice of kindness is already reflected in our mission and our values.”

Click for mmural 3ore information about Ben’s Bells’ Kind Colleagues program.

Business group honors TMC’s Steve Bush as top nonprofit CFO

SteveBushTMC Senior VP and Chief Financial Officer Steve Bush won first place in the nonprofit organizational category at the third annual Inside Tucson Business CFO Awards, announced at a dinner event Nov. 5 at Casino del Sol.

Since Bush’s arrival as CFO in September 2009, TMC has had a positive operating margin each year, maintaining the rise from operational deficits that began in late 2007 under then-new chief executive Judy Rich. Bush is responsible for planning and operations of the organization’s financial affairs including revenue cycle, supply chain, budgeting, financial reporting and managed care contracting.

“The most enjoyable part of my job is working on a variety of projects, which gives me the chance to interact with numerous individuals including other members of the management team, employees, board members, physicians and community representatives,” Bush said. “The most rewarding part of my job is the ability to help TMC achieve its mission by working with others to provide a financially stable organization. I have worked in several health care organizations in my career and I feel that TMC is unique in the way employees, management and our Board of Trustees work together in the best interests of our patients. We can all take pride in the value TMC provides to our community and I feel my award reflects in a small way, the pride our community has in TMC.”

Inside Tucson Business teamed up with event Platinum Sponsor BeachFleishman and Gold Sponsor Casino Del Sol to locate and honor chief financial officers from around Southern Arizona. Nominations were open to working financial executives in Pima, Cochise and Santa Cruz counties, with several award categories:

• Nonprofit organizations
• Government, quasi government agencies and education
• Companies with $15 million or more in annual revenue
• Companies with less than $15 million in revenue

“The most challenging part of my job is trying to find the balance between need and resources,” Bush noted. “The finance team and I work closely with the other members of the management team and make difficult choices on almost a daily basis as to where to spend our money. Our fiscal challenges will continue with the changing health care landscape and new competitors in the market, but I am fortunate to work with a great team and feel confident in our ability to keep TMC fiscally strong.”

Prior to joining TMC as vice president and chief financial officer, Bush held senior financial positions at several health care organizations including Aurora Healthcare in Milwaukee, OhioHealth in Columbus, and Holy Cross Hospital in Silver Spring, Maryland. He was born and raised in Montreal, Canada, and moved to the United States shortly after earning his undergraduate degree from McGill University. He has an MBA and CPA and is a fellow in Healthcare Financial Management.


Habitat/TMC partnership creates new home for Lopez family

Habitat for Humanity Tucson welcomed another TMC employee to homeownership with a special home dedication event for Georgina Lopez and her daughters, Abbie and Jael.

Move-in Day!

Move-in Day!

Tucson Medical Center and the TMC Foundation have partnered with Habitat Tucson over the past decade to support efforts to provide housing for deserving TMC families. In this case, Lopez is the employee – one who enjoys working as a patient care technician at the pre-op area of TMC’s new second-floor surgery suites.

“We are very happy to get our home! It’s one of the best things that will happen to us,” Lopez said in discussing her family’s quest for a new home. The full story of the Lopez family’s Habitat project is documented in a blog on the Habitat Tucson webpage.

Congratulations to the Lopez family for this proud moment, part of the ongoing programs conducted by Habit for Humanity in Tucson to address local housing issues.


1,000 acts of kindness by April? Game On!

Last month, Tucson Medical Center accepted Ben’s Bells Be Kind Challenge. Catch a view of our fabulous party hats and tremendous spirit in the video below, which highlights what it means to be a kind workplace, as we attempt to record 1,000 acts of kindness by the end of April.

Since there are probably 1,000 acts of kindness that occur here at TMC every single day, we’re convinced we can make it!

Visit the #BeKindChallenge to see what other businesses, schools and organizations have accepted the challenge and to learn more about the endeavor.

Tucson Marathon Relay major ‘FEAT’ for TMC employees

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TMC fielded 10 teams at the Holualoa Tucson Marathon Relay this past Sunday, Dec. 8, as part of the first event for the TMC Fit Employee Ambassador Team, or FEAT.

I am overwhelmed by the success of the entire team,” said Amy Mattox, employee wellness specialist, who organizes FEAT efforts. “My hope was that we’d all get together and do something great, but I had no idea how much effort and heart they would all put into it! The incredible teamwork, the amazing attitudes, and the way we all cheered each other to the finish…it was truly inspirational for us all.”

Each relay team consisted of four runners and walkers who covered the entire Tucson Marathon course by working together. The first leg was 5.9 miles, the second leg 6.6 miles, the third leg 6.4 miles, and the final leg was 7.3 miles to the finish line. The teams could be all male, all female or co-ed.

“All 10 teams of four finished strong (three teams came in under 4 hours!),” Mattox said. “And both Dianna Desborough and Michelle Spohn finished the full 26.2 miles, finding encouragement along the way from the other teammates in our matching TMC teal team shirts. It was quite the sight!”

TMC FEAT participants could take advantage of an eight-week 10K training plan that started in October. There were also weekly core workouts on campus geared especially for runners.

2015 holds even more promise for FEAT, according to Mattox.

“I absolutely cannot wait to grow this team throughout 2015, getting more TMC employees involved in FEAT, as we inspire each other. Together, we can reach our goals. This group proved that this past weekend, and they’re already asking: ‘What’s next?!’ ”

Hats off to FEAT members: Mary Atkinson, Kathryn Beals, Stacey Bell, Alix Bennet, Sue Bingham, Darby Conroy, Allan Curry, Martha Demer, Dianna Desborough, Crystal Elefante, Ramon Figueroa, Rebecca Fitzpatrick, Christina Franklin, Jeremy Friezen, Ruth Galvon De Ramirez, Michael Gatwood, Benjamin Gerkin, Amy Hill, Ohia Hodges, Kim Huffman, Lisa Kobran, Patti Kubista, Pat Ledin, Fabian Lucero, Frank Marini, Jessica Markley, Dennis McKinney, Damhnait McLaughlin, William Meyer, Alysha Molina, Jessica Monroe, Scott Morris, Philip Moya, Marcia Obara, Barbara Philipp, Chris Ritchey, Michelle Spohn, Julia Strange, Rachel Tineo, Alexis Vasquez, Jenn Waugaman and Danica Williams.

It takes a village – celebrating achievement of meaningful use, stage 2

It was time to celebrate following Tucson Medical Center’s successful attestation for Stage 2 of meaningful-use requirements for its electronic medical record this past July. On Wednesday, TMC hosted a breakfast to recognize the 150 team members whose hard work and dedication led the organization to achieve this milestone.

“This was a huge, coordinated effort among a lot of different departments, and everybody really stepped up to the plate to make this happen,” said Chief Information Officer Frank Marini. “And the results are really impressive.”

He shared TMC’s results in meeting the objective measures set by the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology. As shown in the chart below, TMC beat most measures by 20 points or more.

MU chart

The team had remarkable depth and breadth from areas throughout most clinical areas of the hospital and beyond. In addition to significant resources from Information Services, the team included physicians, registered nurses, patient care techs, lab workers, pharmacists, case managers, infection control specialists and more.

Team members represented all the major clinical areas: cardiac, emergency, general/vascular surgery, geriatrics, geropsych, hospice, intensive care (adults, children and newborns), labor and delivery, mother/baby, neurosurgery/neurology, orthopaedic surgery, pediatrics, post-cardiac care, pre-anesthesia testing, transitional care and women’s services. Other ancillary areas included case management, clinical education, diagnostics, imaging, lab, nursing practice, pharmacy and volunteer services.

In addition, non-clinical areas included admitting, communications, community benefit, enterprise-wide scheduling, finance, health information management (formerly medical records), infection control, patient accounting, professional staff, quality, risk management and surgery scheduling.

Because the transitions-of-care measure was critical, representation was needed from outside the hospital campus. The measure called for the ability to send an electronic version of a patient’s medical record and plan of care in a format the receiving physician or care facility could understand. Staff from business development reached out to community physician groups including Saguaro Physicians, Saguaro Surgical and Southern Arizona Infectious Disease Specialists. In addition, the accountable care organization, Arizona Connected Care, of which TMC is a part, was part of the coordinated effort. All of this work had the support of the board of trustees and the C-suite, with the bulk of the Executive Team having a role to play.

TMC continues to optimize its electronic medical record and next up will be Stage 3 of meaningful use, which will focus on improved outcomes. Though the final rules for Stage 3 are still being developed by the government, TMC continues to look at ways to optimize the electronic medical record to increase quality, safety and efficiency in order to improve patient outcomes.

MU stage 2

A group of staff from Information Systems kicks off the morning festivities to recognize the team that work to meet requirements for Stage 2 meaningful use of the hospital’s electronic medical record.

This blog is one in a series as part of the Oct. 22 celebration at Tucson Medical Center for successfully attesting to the U.S. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services for meeting Stage 2 Meaningful Use requirements of its electronic medical record. This success was a great and collaborative effort across many areas of the hospital. It represents another milestone achieved toward improved patient care and safety.

TMC picks up three Nurse of the Year awards at March of Dimes Arizona gala

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Three TMC nurses were recognized as 2014 Nurses of the Year by the March of Dimes Arizona Chapter at its 11th annual gala in Scottsdale last month. Another five TMC nurses were finalists.

“We are thrilled to have eight finalist and three winners in this very prestigious state nursing recognition venue! This event is an excellent opportunity to showcase many of our excellent nurses, and also support such a worthy cause as the March of Dimes,” said Peggy MacMacken, associate administrator of Clinical Practice. “We would also like to give special thanks to Deana Amend, L&D, and Julie Seidl who represented TMC on the March of Dimes planning committee, which made the event possible.”

Nurse of the Year honors went to:

  • Susan Patania, clinical educator – Behavioral Health
  • Jennifer Tuttle, ICU clinical nurse lead – Charge Nurse
  • Mary Thierman, clinical project specialist, I/S Clinical Infomatics – Clinical Support

TMC finalists included:

  • Sandi Baus, director of Infection Control – Clinical Support
  • Susan Sims, NICU educator – Critical Care Education
  • Julie Seidl, infant development specialist –  Public Health & Ambulatory Care
  • Laurie Quiroz, Orthopaedics – Rising Star
  • Jessica Hall, NICU – Women’s Health

The March of Dimes gala celebrates nursing excellence and recognizes leaders in nursing from across the state. With 16 categories, the Nurses of the Year helps raise the public’s awareness of and interest in the diverse and rewarding careers available to registered nurses, and acknowledges excellence in the respective categories.

Dating back to the polio era, nurses have played a critical role in advancing the mission of the March of Dimes to improve the health of babies. Forty thousand nurses volunteered for the Salk polio vaccine field trials in 1954, the largest medical investigation of its kind ever conducted.

“From the very youngest of patients in newborn intensive care units to the elderly in hospice, nurses protect our health, work to prevent injury, alleviate suffering and advocate for our care,” according to the March of Dimes Arizona Chapter. “Nurse of the Year Awards are a way to say thank you and honor selflessness, dedication and passion for the profession of nursing.”

Click to see more photos of the gala.

New grads and new beginnings at TMC


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If spring is for graduations then summer is for new beginnings.

At the end of May, scores of new graduates were interviewed for nursing careers at TMC during two days of non-stop interviews.

The goal is to hire a cohort of new grads for the next New Grad Residency Program, which starts July 28. These newly minted nurses will continue to develop their skills in the 12-month program run by clinical nurse educators Erica Murphy and Sue Bentley.

The program, which started in 2011, provides support to the new grads as they transition into practice. It uses a multifaceted approach heavy on education and socialization.

In the first month the new grads benefit from multiple skills labs where they have the opportunity to sharpen or refresh the skills they learned in nursing school, Murphy explained. They are also introduced to the culture of TMC through interdisciplinary experiences and a “walking in my shoes” experience with other staff members who interact closely with patients.

During the next 11 months they attend monthly forums, which continue to provide education through lectures and workouts. In addition to skills development, support is given to the new grads to help them adjust to the ups and downs of transitioning into practice and the stress the profession.

At the end of the year-long program, they are celebrated as no longer being new grads and are recognized for their first year of practice.

Willie Lynch graduated from nursing school in December 2012 and went through the residency program. Now, he works on an adult telemetry unit as a nurse and clinical nurse lead.

His biggest take away from the program: “Have confidence in what you know, and don’t be afraid to ask if you don’t know.”

Since its inception in November 2011, 209 new grads have participated, 143 have completed the program and one cohort is still in the middle of the year-long program.

As of this week, more than 30 nurses have been hired. Human Resources is waiting on a few responses and will possibly issue a few more offers. The aim is to have around 40 students in this cohort.

Nurse.com names TMC nurse a western region Rising Star

Stephanie Miner, RN, BSN

Stephanie Miner, RN, BSN

TMC Labor & Delivery nurse Stephanie Miner has earned the Nurse.com 2014 Mountain West region Rising Star Award.

The new Rising Star Award honors an RN in each region who has been in nursing for five years or less. Each recipient demonstrates strong nursing knowledge and leadership skills, while fulfilling community and professional roles.

The full story is in the June 9 Nurse.com. Gannett Healthcare Group operates the website and magazine Nurse.com, among the leading nursing publications in the U.S.

Hospital Week spotlight: Meet Lucy Maupin

Lucy Maupin, senior systems software engineer

Lucy Maupin, senior systems software engineer

Lucy Maupin works diligently in the Alamo Building, keeping the organization’s major computer systems running smoothly. Maupin, a senior systems software engineer, first started working for TMC 28 years ago in TMCHE Lab. She then moved to Information Services in 2001.

One hat she wears is that of administrator for the Epic database, supporting the foundation of Epic and ensuring that it runs well. She is also the point person performing the technical side of upgrades to Epic, which is the core computer system of the hospital’s electronic medical records.

The other hat she wears is that of systems engineer for the Cloverleaf interface engine, where she manages the real-time interfaces between TMC systems. The interface allows information to be passed from a patient admission in Epic, say, to the computer system in the lab.

“Lucy is responsible for the care and feeding of the core server systems that support both Epic, as well as the Cloverleaf interface engine,” explained Jon Hallgrimsson, I/S manager of systems and databases. “These two systems are probably the most important systems in the hospital and support the daily work of everyone in both the clinical environment, as well as the Business Office.”

She and her team keep Epic up and processing information as efficiently as possible. “I work with a whole team of people who are dedicated to minimizing our planned downtimes,” she said.

“Lucy is passionate about quality and patient safety, and she works very hard to keep the highest standards for TMC’s patients,” Hallgrimsson said. “Lucy is a highly valued member of the I/S systems team, and the entire I/S department relies on her expert knowledge in these critical systems.”

One of her biggest challenges is staying on top of technology changes.

“You have to keep up in order to be effective and provide the expected results of these highly complicated systems,” she said. “There is high risk in most everything I do on a daily basis.”

Though keeping up may be challenging, it also brings its own rewards.

“TMC is giving me the opportunity to work on the cutting edge of software technology, always learning and growing,” she said. “I believe that my hard work contributes to the well-being of our patients and that’s why I love working in health care.”

Hallgrimsson seconds her dedication to patients.

“Lucy is passionate about quality and patient safety, and she works very hard to keep the highest standards for TMC’s patients,” he said, adding that “Lucy has been with TMC for a long time, and is one of my most valued employees. We’re lucky to have her in the driver’s seat for Epic!”

And for Maupin, TMC has made for a satisfying career.

“I’ve been here my whole life. TMC is my life, my home away from home and my family,” she said. “TMC has great people.”

Hospital Week spotlight: Meet Greg Harris

Greg Harris underneath one of his signs at the 2014 Rock ‘N Rodeo event with his wife, Kathy (right), and director of TMC Volunteer Services Hope Thomas.

Greg Harris is TMC’s cabinet maker and special events carpenter. He was hired 28 years ago after running his own carpentry business for 10 years, including doing jobs for the hospital. Originally he built charting tables, off-the-wall units and other cabinetry pieces throughout the hospital.

Slowly, though, he started working on special events, coordinating logistics as well as the carpentry and stage work, including building sets and other props. His and his team’s handiwork is seen at the likes of Be Safe Saturday, the annual Baby Fair and Rock ‘N Rodeo. Now add to the list themed sets for the TMC Foundation’s annual Gala and Community Benefits’ various community runs.

When the Gala had a Hollywood theme, he had fun building a replica of the iconic Hollywood sign as well as a façade for Ric’s Café from Casa Blanca.

Some of his projects have special meaning. This past year, he built a mesquite fish tank stand for the lobby of the Pediatric Emergency Department. The wood came from trees cut when TMC for Children was expanded. The trees were then milled and dried for two years, he said. “The fish tank is the first piece and the remaining wood is to be used only on furniture for pediatric areas.”

He’s touching the greater community, giving a positive, professional image of the hospital.

“He takes my vision and kicks it up a notch, always exceeding my wildest dreams,” said Hope Thomas, director of Volunteer Services & Community Programs.

“It all started with the TMC arch for Baby Fair in 2000. In my mind’s eye I was picturing a simple arch that bore the TMC logo,” she said. “What I got was a creative and artful masterpiece, right down to the stucco finish and southwest colors and accents. The commitment to every last detail defines his work.”

And it really is all about his interpretation of the vision, she said. “He always wants TMC to outshine every other exhibitor at an event.”

While he enjoys building the sets, he still has responsibilities for the hospital, and that presents some of the challenges of his job – juggling responsibilities with a host of departments, including the Foundation, Community Outreach, Community Benefit and Plant Services.

But that’s nothing compared with the fact that he enjoys what he does.

“There are a lot of fun people around here,” he said, and one in particular. “I met my wife 22 years ago, and we’ve been married 20!”

Hospital Week spotlight: Meet Richard Lopez

Richard Lopez

Richard Lopez sorts linens at the TMC Laundry.

Richard Lopez has worked in the Laundry for eight years and has found Tucson Medical Center to be a place more friendly than any other place he’s worked.

“There are a lot of caring people,” said the equipment operator who attends to the linen needs of patients. He also helps out wherever the need may be.

“A lot of times when people ask for directions, I help them and show them the right way,” he said. “If they need a blanket or something, I take it to them. I help out the best I can, treat people the way I would want to be treated.”

The job is not without its challenges, Lopez admits. The units want their linens quickly. “The faster we get it to them, the happier everyone is.”

And his manager is happy to have him in the department. “Richard is a great employee, very polite and a hard worker,” said Lacee Kimball, manager of Laundry. “When he is out in the hospital, I know that he goes above and beyond to help any patient or guest to the best of his ability.  He really, truly cares about everyone and everything.”


Persistence pays off: past scholarship winner earns BSN, continues to chart her own course

When it comes to education, Judy McCord is not one to give up. McCord, a registered nurse in the post-anesthesia care unit, decided to apply for the annual Chief Nursing Officer Scholarship in 2012.

Judy McCord standing behind charge nurse Judith Fortson in the post-anesthesia care unit on the second floor of the surgical tower.

Judy McCord standing behind charge nurse Judith Fortson in the post-anesthesia care unit on the second floor of the surgical tower.

“I tried for three years in a row,” she said, “I had to do something this time to grab the CNO’s attention.”

Each year, she put together a brochure of herself and the steps she wanted to take in her career. It finally did the trick. McCord was awarded the scholarship and went on to earn her bachelor’s of science degree in nursing from Grand Canyon University.

McCord joined TMC in 2002 as a surgery scheduler. In her career at TMC, in addition to scheduling, she has been a unit clerk, a PCT, an LPN and an RN. Outside of TMC, she has been a banker, a medical biller and a scheduler in a surgeon’s office.

“I have had a lot of hats in my life,” said the 51-year-old, who earned her associate’s degree from Pima Community College in 2007.

“It took me a while, because I had to do all my prerequisites,” she said, adding that she was also rearing five kids, taking them to all their activities, caring for her dying father and recovering from an automobile accident.

The bachelor’s degree, on the other hand, took 11 months, and she graduated with honors.

“It’s free education; you’ve got to take advantage of it,” said McCord, whose higher education got off to a rocky start. McCord and her family moved from Long Island, N.Y., to Phoenix where she attended her first three years of high school.

Her family moved to Tucson for her senior year, but then her parents decided to move back to Phoenix. McCord stayed behind to finish high school. But, she ended up quitting.

Then someone called her an “idiot.” And that was that. “I went back to school with a full-time job and living on my own, to earn my diploma and prove them wrong. I am not an idiot.”

She made that clear, continuing to work hard and keep learning.

Katie Brooks, manager of Workforce Development has known McCord since she was a unit clerk in the operator room, many years ago. “She has worked so hard. She knew what she wanted and went after it,” Brooks said.

And it wasn’t just Brooks, either, who believed in McCord. Cheryl Young was the CNO who awarded her the scholarship.

“I want to give a big thanks to both Katie Brooks and Cheryl Young for believing in me,” she said.

With degree in hand, even more doors are open to her.

“Now that I have my degree, I want to use my BSN and utilize my education,” she said. “I don’t believe in failure, I believe in success. I don’t really believe in giving up. I kind of have gusto.”

Empathy and Nursing: Human Connection

By Elizabeth Maish, TMC Vice President & Chief Nursing Officer

Tom BergeronWhat is nursing?

What is it that we do every day?

We follow a lot of orders, give medications, and look for supplies.

We respond to the interminable call lights.

We worry and wait…

We rarely take the time to ponder what it is that we do besides what is right in front of us at the time. Some of us head home after work and wonder how it got so complicated…and how we have arrived at this place, doing this work. Our thinking is usually peppered with life decisions, alternate paths taken and yet to take, and a past full of change.

So what does a nurse do? We optimize life changes: the good, the sad, the successes and the losses. Incidentally, a lot of what we see is made up of all these things! We carry through, we carry water, we carry on. We shield, protect, and soothe pain. In the process of caring, we bind to the human condition ‑ the inexplicable and sacred.

We are present in the unwelcome moments, the quiet moments and final moments. I’m describing empathy. This is what it looks like.

Many find that being with the sick and the dying is hard or impossible; to stare at your own mortality can be discomforting – you know the future that everything passes, including you and everyone you love. As nurses, we’re right there watching and helping life play out at the bedside. This empathic way that nurses have means simply being there, showing up, with intent.

Can you recall a patient who righted your bearings, hit you in the heart or gut, changed your practice, or poured gasoline on the smoldering fire that was your passion for caring?

I can. She was 88. She liked to line dance and work in her garden. As she grew very old, she didn’t want to give these things up and decided on surgery to fix a very tired heart. I met her after surgery, knowing she wouldn’t leave the bed she was in. She would never stand, cut a flower or make herself some food. I grasped her hand during a position change and suddenly she was wide awake, smiling around an ET tube.

We looked at each other and in her eyes I saw a mixture of sadness, resignation and mostly peace. None of this had turned out the way she thought it would. But it was alright. She was facing her end with calm and was ready. Regrets? Maybe a few, but no matter, the time had come. The thoughts and feelings that passed between us in a few seconds re-ignited my sleeping brain, formally consumed with mostly petty things that had to be done that day. She re-ignited my heart, where she lives as a hero. For some reason, I was there with her to share this moment of our humanity.

There is nothing more important than this work.

The next time you pause to think about what to do next, call on the patient who sent a divine lightning bolt through your heart and soul. We all have some patient memory inside that awakened us! Silently thank this patient for reminding you, centering you to care, to show up and to connect. It’s a tough world out there ‑ nurses make it bearable and many times, joyously livable.

Please accept my sincere congratulations on the 2014 Nurses Week.

Flexibility, friends, food choices – keys to one RN’s active lifestyle

TMC nurse Karina Bechtold hiking in Sabino Canyon on her day off.

TMC nurse Karina Bechtold hiking in Sabino Canyon on her day off.

When Karina Bechtold was a university student working as a fitness instructor she didn’t understand how people weren’t able to prioritize their lives to make sure they had an active, healthy lifestyle.

Admittedly, the Float Pool nurse had always had a side fun job that focused on fitness. She had an edge to staying active, but still, couldn’t anyone find the time they needed to work out?

“I didn’t get it when I was a college student,” said Bechtold, a five-year RN at TMC. “Why would people give up the workout?”

Then the realities of life set in – a nursing career, a husband, a house and then a baby.

“Fitness is definitely a priority, but I’ve had to change my ideas,” she said. Now she has to be flexible, surround herself with active friends and be more mindful of her eating.

The 28-year-old no longer has the luxury of spending an hour or more at the gym every day. Instead, she’s committed to doing something active on her four days off each week.

Some days it means getting up early before her husband heads off to work. He can watch their 15-month-old son while she spends 45 minutes on the treadmill. “Sometimes the baby is banging on the door the whole time,” said Bechtold, who is also in graduate school to become a doctor of nursing practice.

Other times, it might be a hike up Tumamoc Hill with the now 21-pound baby on her back. “We go slowly, he enjoys the view and my husband runs ahead.” As a nurse and a mom, flexibility is a key to healthy living.

“You have to do whatever works,” she said. “Our schedules fluctuate from week to week, even day to day.” It helps, too, to have a diverse group of workout buddies whom she calls on for exercise dates – some for hiking, some for morning workouts, others for afternoon exercise. “Everyone has friends to go to lunch with, I have friends I can exercise with,” she said, “I have options depending on what my week might look like.”

She has a couple nurses in this group because they also have crazy schedules. “I might know that one of my friends has tomorrow off, too, and could be up for a hike at 2 in the afternoon.”

Exercise is only part of the health equation. Bechtold is also mindful of her eating. “I try to make a good decision at every meal, every day,” she said.

For example, she prefers not to drink her calories and instead water is her drink of choice. “If you don’t get to the exercise, at least you’ve eaten well.”

Bechtold has had to change her mind set with her changing lifestyle, but she’s still committed to her health and she keeps a positive focus. “You don’t want to beat yourself up. If things didn’t work out today, there’s always tomorrow.”

‘I Choose Dedication:’ Words of Encouragement

Organizational values identified by TMC employees (Dedication, Compassion, Integrity, Community) are among the reasons people ‘Choose Well’ when they choose Tucson Medical Center.

TMC has launched an internal campaign to celebrate examples of those who demonstrate these values every day.  Here’s another example of those who “choose Dedication”


A comforting word can an important part of patient care, and Deloros Gomez makes sure to deliver reassurance in her role as a Women’s Surgery nurse.  She circulates among pre-op, the operating room, and the recovery area.

“I’m dedicated to women’s health and well-being, because I am a woman – and I know what it’s like to be the patient,” she says.

“During pre-op, which is the area I enjoy the most, I get to meet the patient and go through expectations – helping them to feel safe, that they are being cared for by someone who is dedicated.

“I take a lot of pride, making sure they feel safe, making sure their questions are answered.  Most people are very scared, and they need that person to explain everything to them – so they feel when they go to sleep, someone is still going to be there for them as an advocate, to take care of them from the beginning to the end, keep them safe, and make sure all things are done to them with dignity and respect. “

TMC Athletes: Systems Analyst and Marathon Runner Suggests Trying Variety of Activities

Kimberly Huffman, business systems analyst

A snapshot:

I’ve been running for almost 10 years now and I participate in as many of the TMC sponsored races as I can throughout the year. I’ve done one full marathon, and 12 half-marathons and two sprint triathlons. I also did my first 42-mile El Tour last year.

Why do you do it?

Running is definitely my fitness choice. I like to eat – I would say chocolate is my downfall – so it’s important to get out there and burn some calories. I love to go on bike rides and I love to swim, but running is still my favorite. I just like being outdoors and enjoying the fresh air and scenery. And it just makes you feel better and more energized to have a healthy lifestyle.

What has been your biggest obstacle?

I recently read a book that inspired me about running, but I also felt after reading it that I needed to change my running style. After running the same way for nine years, I guess my feet were happy with the way I was running, so when I changed it up, I ended up spending six weeks with plantar fasciitis and then followed that with a stress fracture. I’m fine now, but my motto now is: Don’t fix it if it isn’t broken.

What is your best tip to others interested in becoming more active?

Try a variety of activities. Something will just click if it’s the right thing for you. And then when you find it, start out slow so you don’t risk injury.

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