TMC extends congratulations to the winners of the Influential Health and Medical Leaders awards

2015 Influential Health and Medical Leaders Awards

Pal Evans, M.D., left, receives Lifetime Achievement in Health Care award from Steve Pope, general manager, Arizona Local Media

Tucson Medical Center congratulates Palmer “Pal” Evans, M.D., for recognition of his Lifetime Achievement in Health Care by Tucson Local Media.

Dr. Evans, who was honored at an awards dinner Sept. 23, knew as a high school freshman that he would become a physician. He served as a practicing obstetrician/gynecologist in Tucson from 1974 to 1999, before launching his administrative career in 1996. He retired in 2005 as the former Vice President for Medical Affairs at TMC.

“Dr. Evans had a simple goal that was profoundly difficult at the same time: doing the right thing for patients, every time,” said Michael Duran, Vice President and Chief Development Officer for TMC. “The trajectory of his career reflects deep community involvement, an unflagging compassion for patients and an insatiable curiosity about improvement processes and health care models.”

Called into service again, Palmer returned as Senior Vice President and Chief Medical Officer in 2007 at the request of TMC HealthCare’s Board of Trustees.

As Senior Vice President and Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Evans led quality of care improvement efforts and oversaw the hospital’s participation in a national pilot study of what was then an innovative health care model, an accountable care organization.

He retired again in July 2010 – but seemingly only to redouble his community involvement.

Not only does Dr. Evans continue to serve in a senior advisory role to TMC and as Board Chairman of Arizona Connected Care, the first accountable care organization in Southern Arizona, but he continues to serve on the board of the TMC Foundation and is past Chair of the Pima Council on Aging. He serves as executive-in-Residence for The Center for Management Innovations in Health Care at the University of Arizona’s Eller College of Management. He is a Life Fellow of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and Diplomat of the American Board of Obstetrics and Gynecology.

Dr. Francisco García, director of the Pima County Health Department, left, is recognized as Outstanding Health Care Executive from Steve Pope, General Manager, Arizona Local Media.

Francisco García, M.D., director of the Pima County Health Department, left, is recognized as Outstanding Health Care Executive from Steve Pope, general manager, Arizona Local Media

TMC also extends congratulations to Dr. Francisco García, the Director of the Pima County Health Department, who received recognition for Outstanding Health Care Executive.

“This is an exciting time in health care and Dr. García’s tenure has been marked by a commitment to collaboration, service and community outreach,” said Julia Strange, vice president of Community Benefit for Tucson Medical Center. “His leadership has really been defined by his passion for community and the belief that making Pima County a healthier place will demand a team approach.”

TMC is also pleased that the Save the Cord Foundation was honored with an award for Achievement in Community Outreach. The Tucson-based non-profit foundation works to advance umbilical cord blood advocacy and education globally. It serves as the educational arm for the Arizona Public Cord Blood Program, which TMC is proud to be a part of.

TMC is currently the only hospital in Southern Arizona to offer expectant parents the opstcf_logo_smallportunity to donate their baby’s umbilical cord blood to the Be The Match national registry as part of this program. Donating is free, easy and doesn’t hurt the mom or baby. Additionally, it does not change a woman’s labor or delivery.

TMC recently collected cord blood unit  number 900. So far, since the program started, 22 cord blood units have been selected for transplant into people with life-threatening diseases.

Report to Our Community event highlights TMC’s new Orthopaedic and Surgical Tower

report5Tucson Medical Center hosted this year’s Report to Our Community event, which provides an overview of the annual report to community leaders, public officials and the media, detailing the many community benefit programs TMC has spearheaded in the prior year.

This year’s event was special, as it was held in the lobby of the soon to be open, Tucson Medical Center Orthopaedic and Surgical Tower.

It was only appropriate to host the release of the Report to Our Community in the tower, as the tower is part of a strategic investment in the future of TMC and its ability to continue providing quality health care to the community.

Community tours of the four story building kicked off the event providing a first look at the new medical offices, clinics, private patient rooms and state-of-the-art surgical suites.

The tower is on schedule to open May 6 and will be the only orthopaedic and surgical facility of its kind in Southern Arizona.

“This building really speaks for itself, demonstrating the solid foundation and stability of Tucson Medical Center,” said TMC Board of Trustee Chairwoman, Louise Francesconi.

Francesconi joined TMC President and CEO Judy Rich during the Report to Our Community to discuss how TMC has strategically positioned itself to service the health care needs of the community for years to come.

“Charity care is part of what we do as a community hospital. We take care of everyone who comes to us for care,” said Rich.

In 2012, TMC recorded $48 million of community benefit costs, of which a large portion is charity care. On a net operating revenue of $448 million, TMC’s community benefit was 10.8%, well over the 5% average expected to maintain non-profit status.

And the majority of this uncompensated care, which refers to charity care and bad debt, is a result of the thousands of people who were dropped from AHCCCS in 2011.

“Medicaid restoration, for us is critical. So we’re going to be watching closely to see what happens with that,” explained Rich.

TMC’s stable leadership has been able to withstand the challenges of current legislation changes and tough economic environment, while establishing a framework to ensure the vitality of the hospital.

Over the last 5 years, TMC has invested $200 million dollars building the Orthopaedic and Surgical Tower, renovating hospital units, and adopting Electronic Medical Records (EMR) as standard practice, to name a few.

“We know that our roots grow very deep into this community and every decision we make is made on behalf of being here in the future. We’re very well positioned with the technology we need, resources we need, and the facilities we need,” said Rich.

Francesconi added that the investment TMC is making extends across a broad spectrum that begins and continues through TMC’s employees and the health benefits that are necessary for the hospital to provide to the community.

Becoming an Accountable Care Organization and establishing Arizona Connected Care is one of the major ways in which TMC can improve care management, developing special measures to discharge patients with all of the information they need keeping hospital readmission rates low.

“It’s extremely important to us, as a hospital, that we keep people out of here and at home and healthy,” said Rich.

TMC has also taken notice and became involved in the Canyon Ranch Institute’s Life Enrichment Program. This program was originally developed to help people who don’t have the financial resources to go the Canyon Ranch Institute and be immersed in a curriculum promoting healthy lifestyle choices.

“We’ve training 11 of our own TMC staff to become mentors and coaches in this program, and selected our first group of patients in the community – patients who would not have otherwise had the opportunity to experience such a program,” said Rich.

She went on to share an expression she’s coined, ‘nothing to me without me.’

“This means that we are here to serve people who have something to say about how we do that. We recognize that as a patient you have something to say about how we take care of you, what your needs are, and what the most important thing to you is. Our patients have a lot to add in how we provide care.”

The Patient Family Advisory Council is in place to support the very thing that Judy’s phrase addresses. This committee gathers information from families of patients and TMC professionals, and provides solutions so that the hospital cares for patients in a different more focused way.

The event wound down with a few questions from attendees and announcements that select tours of the orthopeadic tower and surgical tower would be offered immediately after the talk.

Francesconi and Rich offered a few closing remarks.

“The leadership and Board are confident in the partnerships and programs that TMC is engaging in, and that they truly are in the best interest of our patients and the people in our community,” said Rich.

Making a difference: helping the whole patient through transitional care

When 86-year-old Mary McGillivray had a health scare last summer and was rushed to TMC’s Emergency Department, it wasn’t what happened in the hospital that brought her the greatest sense of relief.  It was the care she experienced – when she was home.

Mrs. McGillivray was admitted with severe abdominal pain.  After an assortment of tests, doctors determined she needed her gallbladder removed.  She underwent an operation, and anticipated going home shortly – until her heart developed atrial fibrillation.  A week later, her heart finally converted to a normal rhythm.  She received a thumbs up to head home, but had to be on oxygen – which was a whole new world for her and her husband, Edward.

“We had a lot of questions about the oxygen, and using the tank correctly.  We managed to make it through that first night, but I was a mess – and then Karen showed up,” said Mrs. McGillivray.  Karen Popp, RN, is a Transition Nurse & Care Advocate for Arizona Connected Care (AzCC), an LLC owned by primary care physicians, specialists and TMC that is Southern Arizona’s first Accountable Care Organization, or ACO.

An ACO is a network of physicians, hospitals and other health care providers who share the responsibility of caring for patients in a coordinated manner.  Mrs. McGillivray’s primary care physician, Dr. Mark Zaetta at New Pueblo Medicine, is one of the approximately 200 doctors currently in the ACO, which qualified her for the Transition Intervention Program, this specialized post-hospital care.

While at the McGillivray residence, Popp answered an assortment of questions about oxygen.  “When dealing with oxygen for the first time, there is a lot to learn.  When you compound that with being discharged from the hospital, new medications and new instructions, it’s hard for a patient to retain the education that’s been given to them at discharge.  Then, when they are ready to retain it, there’s nobody there to teach them,” she said.

That’s exactly what this program aims to do: empower these patients with education, and help them stay out of the hospital.

For Mrs. McGillivray, the knowledge she received was priceless.  “Karen told us how to do everything, showed us, and then made sure we knew how to do it.  I was so grateful to have her and her expertise.  I felt like ‘somebody knows what they’re doing, and they’re taking care of me.’  It was just marvelous,” she raved.  “Edward felt more confident taking care of me.  The visits were a lifesaver for both of us.  Without Karen, I don’t know how I would have survived,” she said.

Months later, Popp continued to follow-up.

“It was really nice to know that she cared.  With Karen, I felt like I had a partner throughout my entire recovery process.  It gives my children peace of mind that I’m being well taken care of.  And it gives me peace of mind to know that if I do have to be hospitalized in the future, I’ll get this same standard of care,” Mrs. McGillivray said.

AzCC2 002

Arizona Connected Care’s Office of Care Coordination:
Amber Jones, BSN, RN – Transition Nurse;
Karen Popp BSN, RN- Care Advocate/ Transition Nurse;
Tina Wren, MA- Care Coordinator

Through the Transition Intervention Program, patients are prioritized based on their risk of being readmitted.  “The home visit follow-up care is offered to the highest risk patients first.  If other patients ask for it, they get it.  If we are talking to a patient who is at a moderate risk for re-hospitalization during a post-hospital follow-up call, and we get the feeling that they could benefit from a home visit, we offer it to them,” said Popp.  Home visits are usually an hour or more.

“The program helps patients realize they’re more than just a number.  We’re helping them pick up where the hospital left off.  When they’re in the hospital, people are doing amazing things for them.  When they’re home, they don’t always have that safety net.  Our job is to support them even though they’re not within the hospital walls anymore,” said Popp.

UnitedHealthcare patients in southern Arizona to benefit from improved care coordination and enhanced health services through AzCC

People enrolled in UnitedHealthcare employer-sponsored benefit plans now have access to Arizona Connected Care (AzCC), a physician-led, patient-centric accountable care organization (ACO) that manages all aspects of patient health care, ensuring that the proper course of treatment and preventive health measures are being followed. The AzCC ACO combines advanced analytics to measure and improve quality outcomes for patients with innovative, value-based performance incentives.

During the past year, AzCC has been providing its prevention- and wellness-focused health care to seniors enrolled in UnitedHealthcare’s Medicare Advantage plans. This new, expanded collaboration will give more than 180,000 people enrolled in UnitedHealthcare’s employer-sponsored health benefit plans throughout southern Arizona the opportunity to benefit from access to quality care from approximately 200 AzCC care providers and health professionals through this distinctive care model.

AzCC, composed of primary care physicians, specialists, Tucson Medical Center, and other health care providers, in 2012 became the first ACO qualified by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) in southern Arizona. Since then AzCC has provided care to thousands of patients while practicing the Institute for Healthcare Improvement’s (IHI’s) “Triple Aim” objective: increase patient satisfaction, improve the health of the population and reduce the cost of health care.

“We are delighted to expand our partnership with UnitedHealthcare so that thousands of additional UnitedHealthcare patients in Southern Arizona can receive the distinctive care that an ACO can provide,” said John Friend, executive director, Arizona Connected Care. “We believe this program will clearly demonstrate that proactive care focused on wellness and chronic disease management actually reduces health care costs.”

UnitedHealthcare plan participants who use an AzCC care provider do not have to do anything differently in order to receive the benefits of the ACO. Participating primary care physicians will receive monthly updates on their patients, enabling them to monitor all of the care each patient is receiving and access the patient’s care in one record.

For example, if a patient is being treated for heart disease, all the tests, screenings and medications the patient is receiving will be collected into one record to ensure that the appropriate course of care is occurring, the care is coordinated, and the patient is receiving any and all necessary services. This model will help manage services for patients with chronic conditions, such as diabetes and heart disease, while keeping the focus on health and well-being, increased patient safety and care delivery well supported by science.

“Arizona Connected Care is an important provider of health care services in southern Arizona, and we are pleased that more of our health plan customers now have access to AzCC’s innovative ACO care model that improves quality, streamlines care and reduces costs,” said Jeri Jones, CEO, UnitedHealthcare Employer & Individual of Arizona.

UnitedHealthcare is working with physician groups, hospitals and medical centers, and other health care delivery organizations across the country to achieve IHI’s “Triple Aim” objective. UnitedHealthcare’s value-based payment capabilities are designed to support this transformation of care delivery. Today, more than $20 billion of UnitedHealthcare’s annual physician and hospital reimbursements is tied to accountable care programs, centers of excellence and performance-based programs.

Participating AzCC physicians are already using advanced tools and software applications from UnitedHealth Group’s Optum business, a partnership announced in 2011. These capabilities provide health information on patients, enabling their care providers to more easily collaborate with each other on health care decisions. This information will also help AzCC care providers better understand and identify best practices for overall patient wellness and disease management, leading to meaningful health improvements over time.

To read more on this topic, check out the recent article in the Arizona Daily Star.


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