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

Peppi’s Hospice Wish Tree allows community to light up the holidays for a hospice patient

Wish treeThe community is invited to help a hospice patient and family members this holiday season by participating in the Peppi’s Wish Tree program.

Folks can choose a tag from the tree located in the foyer of Peppi’s House, the inpatient unit of TMC Hospice, 2715 N. Wyatt Road on the campus of Tucson Medical Center. 

Each tag represents a gift wish from a pediatric or adult Tucson Medical Center Hospice patient or family. The giver is encouraged to purchase the requested item as soon as possible and return it, unwrapped with the original tag to Peppi’s House by Thursday, Dec. 13. 

This is the inaugural year of asking for community participation in TMC Hospice’s holiday giving program. In the past, a few community partners as well as generous staff and volunteers would contribute to help meet the holiday needs and wants of the patients.

This year, the staff decided Peppi’s Wish Tree would be a wonderful way for individuals impacted by TMC Hospice to give back.

How does the Peppi’s Wish Tree program work?

Visit the Peppi’s Wish Tree in the foyer at Peppi’s House and choose a tag from the tree. Wishes are granted for both our Inpatient and homecare patients and families.

Theses wishes can include anything from basic needs to something that brightens their holiday season. Choose the tag that interests you. The patients name will NOT be included due to confidentiality but the recipient’s age and gender will be noted.

TMC Hospice is also asking for donations of gift cards. The gift cards noted on the tags have been identified by the social services team as regularly requested needs from throughout the year.

Please return unwrapped gifts and gift cards along with the original tag to the TMC Hospice administration office, 2715 N. Wyatt Road, no later than Dec. 13. It is preferable that you bring the gift during normal business hours, but if this is not possible, leave the gift with the staff member at the front desk of the inpatient unit.

You will be able to receive a letter for your tax records at that time or we can email or fax it to you if you include your email or fax with the gift.

Staff and volunteers will then distribute the gifts the week of Christmas. Santa and Mrs. Claus take time out of their busy schedule to bring gifts to our pediatric hospice patients on Christmas Eve.

What if I want to participate but am unable to make it to Peppi’s House to get a tag?

You can mail a monetary donation to TMC Foundation, 5301 E. Grant Road, Tucson AZ 85712. Please note on your check that you want your donation to benefit TMC Hospice Holiday Giving. You also can donate online.

Visit us online for more information and answers to frequently asked questions.

TMC Hospice: Honoring Our Veterans

TMC Hospice volunteers Lewis Jones, center, and Dave Falkner honor a veteran and hospice patient for her service to her country.

When Lewis Jones came on for his shift at Peppi’s House, staff let him know that one of the hospice patients was a veteran and had been honored for his military service earlier in his stay. When the man died later that day surrounded by his large extended family, which included active-duty military, Jones joined with another volunteer to drape the unit’s American flag quilt over the body. As the mortuary came to take him away, the pair, themselves veterans, stood silently saluting as the patient was wheeled out of the building.

The family and staff were overwhelmed with emotion seeing such a show of respect and appreciation for this veteran. Jones stayed to comfort some of the family members, giving that special touch he gives all the time that makes him memorable to everyone.

Today, on Veterans Day, the staff, volunteers and supporters of TMC Hospice honor those who have served our country. TMC Hospice provides care for close to 300 U.S. veterans each year. With the need only growing, we partner with We Honor Veterans and the Hospice Veterans Partnership to better care for, reach out to and honor veterans needing end-of-life care.

Earlier this fall, Jones was one of 200 hospice volunteers across the nation nominated for the 2018 Volunteers Are the Foundation of Hospice award by the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization. While he wasn’t one of the top winners, he’s still a winner at TMC Hospice.

“Out of many volunteers, Jones is the one everyone talks about. His hugs, smiles and greeting help uplift the staff every time he volunteers,” said Krista Durocher, volunteer coordinator for TMC Hospice, noting that November is also Hospice Awareness Month.

Jones has been a TMC Hospice volunteer since 2010, logging nearly 1,100 hours of service in that time. He started out filing medical records and then was recruited to the bereavement team making weekly calls to families. He started helping with quarterly celebrations of life and eventually became the lead volunteer for these events.

In 2016, this versatile volunteer migrated from bereavement calls to the Tuck In program. Each Thursday, Jones gets a list of homecare patients who are still in their homes (vs. a care facility or nursing home) and checks in to make sure they’re OK and have enough supplies to get through the weekend. Not only do the patients appreciate the calls, but the weekend on-call staff appreciates the reduction in urgent calls for supplies, allowing them to better focus on symptom control and other pressing needs.

“When we started its journey with We Honor Veterans a few years back,” Durocher said, “we knew right away that Jones would be an excellent person to help grow this program in our community.” Jones met with various veteran organizations in town and made invaluable connections as his love for honoring veterans began to blossom.

Hospice patients who are veterans are offered the opportunity for an honoring. During this ceremony, a patient is presented with a certificate of appreciation, a lapel pin and a small American flag as small tokens of gratitude for their service.
Jones, being a Vietnam veteran, has a soft spot for other Vietnam veterans and especially loves to conduct those honorings.

“At every one of those honorings,” Durocher said, “he makes a point to say ‘welcome home’ to the veteran and explains to those in the room why it’s especially important to say that to a Vietnam veteran.”

From all of us at TMC Hospice to all our veterans – including Lewis Jones — thank you for your service.

If you’re a veteran interested in helping honor other veterans or are interested in volunteering with TMC Hospice find out more.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

As Heart of Hospice for the quarter, Racioppi’s name and photo goes onto a recognition plaque on the unit, she received a pin and gets a dedicated parking space until next quarter. The award allows colleagues to recognize their peers:

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

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

Click to learn about volunteering for TMC Hospice Home Care.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Heart of Hospice: The glue that holds the team together

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.

New manager called out by her peers for being the Heart of Hospice

Stephanie Carter, center, is honored as Heart of Hospice with bereavement specialist MK LeFevour, left, and director Alicia Ferguson.

Unbeknownst to the new TMC Hospice manager, many of her colleagues had already tossed her name into the hat for the program’s quarterly recognition award.

“She holds the bar to the highest level and is always there to help you,” said Alicia Ferguson, director of TMC Hospice.

After a blind judging, Ferguson explained, Stephanie Carter, the home-care supervisor turned manager was named the Heart of Hospice last Thursday during a breakfast ceremony.

“It’s very telling you all voted your new manager to be your new Heart of Hospice,” quipped Alicia Ferguson, noting that nominations had closed prior to Carter getting her new role.

“Stephanie plays the role of RN, supervisor, case manager, EPIC super user, teacher, student and voice for the team,” according to one of the nomination forms. “She stands up for what is right for her patients, families, employees and peers and will not take ‘no’ for an answer with her patients and the team’s best interests at heart.”

In addition to her own caseload, according to those who nominated her, “she picks up visits to help out the team. Not one to complain, she works tirelessly to ensure patient and family satisfaction as well as to take care of her teammates. She has a willingness to learn more about hospice and leadership and is always open to doing more.”

Almost as if on cue, Carter is doing more in a leadership role, taking her new position two days prior to receiving the award. Carter has nine years at TMC and seven and a half with TMC Hospice, and, in her new role as clinical manager, she leads both the inpatient and outpatient areas of hospice.

The Heart of Hospice is someone who embodies the hospice philosophy and represents all that is good in health care:

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.

In addition to being recognized among her peers, Carter has her name and photo displayed on a plaque in the entryway to Peppi’s House, received a “key” pin to wear on her ID badge representing the key to the Heart of Hospice, and parks in the designated Employee of the Quarter space at Peppi’s House.

Yee-Haw!! Rock ‘N Rodeo lassos 20 years of supporting TMC Hospice

Rock 'N Rodeo TMC Hospice 4The TMC Foundation is celebrating 20 years of hosting the western-themed Rock ‘N Rodeo event to support TMC Hospice.

There are many generous donors and passionate advocates to thank, including HSL Properties, and Desert Diamond Casinos.

TMC is exceptionally grateful for the outstanding participation of Brent Berge and his team at Desert Toyota of Tucson, who has been the title sponsor of every Rock ‘N Rodeo event over its two decades.

Rock 'N Rodeo TMC Hospice 2“Their extraordinary contributions of time, resources and sponsorships continue to make a meaningful difference for TMC Hospice patients and their families,” said Michael Duran, TMC vice president and chief development officer.

Every Rock ‘N Rodeo event has been a lively, boot-scootin’ stampede of dancing, raffles, casino and cowboy games.

Whether it’s a chance to dust off those cowboy boots, learning how to toss a real lasso, two-steppin’ to live music or the satisfaction of winning with a royal flush – event-goers take great pride in knowing proceeds go to TMC Hospice, to support a wide range of programming.

peppi10Children with life-limiting or terminal conditions and their families have special needs, and the invaluable support from Rock ‘N Rodeo means TMC Children’s Hospice can offer specialized palliative and supportive care that provides joy and comfort.

Funds support soothing complementary therapies for adults, and also fund the We Honor Veterans and Hospice Veterans Partnership programs – helping TMC Hospice better care for, reach out to and honor veterans needing end-of-life care.

“We care very deeply for the patients and families – our focus is providing care and services assured to make a positive difference in a patient’s comfort and quality of life,” said Alicia Ferguson, director of TMC Hospice and Palliative Care.

Rock 'N Rodeo TMC Hospice 1This year, the event was hosted at The Last Territory of the Hilton El Conquistador on March 4. Attendees tapped their boot heels to the live music of the incredible Robert Moreno Band, and were careful not to get the savory barbecue on their favorite western-style garb.

A most sincere thanks to all who have participated, attended and donated throughout the years!

Would you like to make a difference for the adults, veterans, children and families enduring tremendous challenges?  Take a moment to learn about volunteering or providing a much needed and appreciated donation.

 

Peppi’s House celebrates Bogey’s 15th birthday

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Bogey first visited Peppi’s House, TMC’s inpatient hospice unit, when he was a wee pug pup of 6 months. Penny Lundstrom, his human companion, had him certified at as a therapy dog at 18 months, the minimum age. And the two have been visiting patients and families at Peppi’s House ever since. Today, Lundstrom and the staff at Peppi’s House celebrated Bogey’s 15th birthday.

“At this age he can barely walk up the street,” Lundstrom said. “But we come here and he runs!”

Bogey has soothed agitated patients and calmed nervous family members.

Once he was taken into a room with a woman who hadn’t communicated since she had a stroke two weeks prior. Her hand was placed on Bogey and she began to pet him. When he was taken away, she vocalized as best she could indicating she wanted the dog back.

The patient was one of thousands of people Bogey has visited over the years. While he might not run — or hear — as well as he did in his youth, Bogey puts on the charm as he greets people, sneaks a lick of icing and brings smiles to all he meets.

Hospice RN recognized for commitment to Benson community

The Southern Arizona community of Benson has one of TMC Hospice’s most dedicated nurses in Mary Ann Young.mary-ann-young-heart-of-hospice

Last week, Young was recognized as the Heart of Hospice, a quarterly award where Hospice staff can recognize their peers. Over the years, Young has had hundreds of patients in the Southern Arizona community of about 5,000 located an hour east of Tucson. She is on call around the clock, does the admissions work for her patients and is there following their deaths. She delivers medications and supplies, and she runs a bereavement support group, said Wiley Baker, a TMC Hospice social worker who nominated her.

“Mary Ann has been a steady dependable nurse for TMC Hospice for the last 22 years,” Baker said, acknowledging that Young is the reason Baker continues to cover Benson as a social worker.

Because of the foundation Young has helped to build in her community, patients are better able to stay in their homes at the end of their lives, and their families are also able to receive the support they need.

“Mary Ann certainly has heart and I’m pleased that she’s being recognized for her work in our community,” said Benson Mayor Toney D. King, Sr. “Because of her compassion and dedication, many families are able to keep their loved ones comfortable at home for the time they have remaining. That is just such a gift that can’t be understated. We are grateful to have her as a neighbor.”

The Heart of Hospice is someone who embodies the hospice philosophy and represents all that is good in health care:

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.

In addition to being recognized among her peers, Young has her name and photo displayed on a plaque in the entryway to Peppi’s House, received a “key” pin to wear on her ID badge representing the key to the Heart of Hospice, and parks in the designated Employee of the Quarter space at Peppi’s House.

Dr. Lincoln returns as medical director for TMC Hospice

lincolnLast month, TMC Hospice announced the return of Larry Lincoln, M.D., as the full-time medical director for TMC Hospice.

Dr. Lincoln is board-certified in internal medicine, infectious diseases and hospice/palliative care. With the exception of a short retirement in 2015-16, he has been the TMC Hospice medical director since its inception in 1991.

“He has mentored many of the team members here at TMC Hospice so we are excited he chose to return to us,” said Alicia Ferguson, TMC director of Hospice & Palliative Care Operations.  “I am looking forward to partnering with him on many new and exciting projects and strategies we are planning for 2017 and beyond.  Be on the lookout for great things from TMC Hospice!”

Dr. Lincoln worked with hospice pioneer Dr. Elizabeth Kubler-Ross for 10 years, leading her Life, Death and Transition Workshops in the United States, Canada, Australia and New Zealand.

Lincoln joins Rebecca Egbert, M.D., pediatric medical director, and Nicole Ralston, AGNP, in leading the care of TMC Hospice patients.

For more information about TMC Hospice, visit www.tmcaz.com/hospice or call (520) 324-2438.

It’s LoveLights time!

lovelightsThe TMC Auxiliary hosts the annual lighting of the LoveLights tree on Thursday, Nov. 10, 5-6:30 p.m. next to the Labyrinth at Peppi’s House, 2715 N. Wyatt Dr.

This cherished tradition benefits TMC Hospice through the sale of lights to commemorate our veterans, honor someone special and memorialize lost loved ones.

“Our patients’ families love to reconnect with us and it’s a wonderful way to kick off the holiday season,” said Krista Durocher, TMC Hospice volunteer coordinator.

The event includes food, door prizes and music. Lights are $5 each or three for $10 and are available at the event as well as online by clicking 2016 LoveLights.

Donations are accepted through the remainder of 2016.

Homecare nurse named inaugural Heart of Hospice

Linker1

Carrie Linker, R.N., is named first Heart of Hospice quarterly honoree this morning.

When TMC Hospice decided to start an employee of the quarter program, the plan called for accepting nominations then having a team of peers review the nominations and determine the staff member to be recognized.

With the first Heart of Hospice, the team had nothing to do, Alicia Ferguson, director of TMC Hospice & Palliative Care, told the staff gathered at Peppi’s House this morning.

“Every nomination had the same name,” she said. “Our Heart of Hospice honoree is someone who exudes confidence, compassion, love, critical thinking and more. This person brightens the day of ever patient and family member, and every single one of you.”

Then Carrie Linker, R.N., was recognized as the first Heart of Hospice honoree. She provides care to hospice patients in their homes. She’s been at TMC Hospice for about a year, after transferring from the step-down unit.

“These people I work with are some much better than I am,” she said. “This is the most awesome group of people I’ve ever worked with.”

From the nomination form:

Linker2

Linker, center, wears her crown proudly as she stands with colleagues during a ceremony this morning to honor her as the Heart of Hospice.

The Heart of Hospice is someone who embodies the hospice philosophy and represents all that is good in health care. 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.

In addition to being recognized among her peers, Linker has her name and photo displayed on a plaque in the entryway to Peppi’s House, received a “key” pin to wear on her ID badge representing the key to the Heart of Hospice, and parks in the designated Employee of the Quarter space at Peppi’s House.

 

TMC Hospice continues 25th anniversary celebrations with new ramada, open house

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Some 75 people took advantage of Thursday’s cool morning to attend an open house and ramada dedication at TMC Hospice. This was the second in a series of celebrations at TMC Hospice this year as it celebrates its 25th anniversary.

“We are so excited and proud to be celebrating 25 years of service to Tucson and surrounding communities and look forward to continuing to partner with others in health care to provide the best of care to those who need us,” said Alicia Ferguson, director of operations for TMC Hospice & Palliative Care

The new medical director, Curt Gedney, M.D., and nurse practitioner, Nicole Ralston, AGNP, were introduced to the group, which included local physicians and, senior-living and home-care representatives as well as TMC board members, executives and staff.

The ramada was funded through a TMC Foundation grant and, according to Mary Kay LeFevour, TMC Hospice bereavement coordinator, will be used to host celebrations of life, memorials, weddings and more.

“Yes, we have weddings here at Hospice,” LeFevour explained. “Sometimes people will get married here so their loved one, who is in hospice, can be a part of it.”

TMC will be featured in documentary about palliative care and end-of-life

maxresdefaultArizona Public Media, AZPM, is airing an original documentary that sheds light on a subject most people shy away from: end-of-life. Passing On encourages a thoughtful dialogue about end-of-life issues and the need to have critical conversations about one’s wishes for their final days.

Passing On premieres on Monday, Feb. 22, at 9 p.m. on PBS 6.

Death is as much a part of human existence as is life, yet it remains a mysterious and often taboo subject. Passing On explores death and dying through a series of compelling, personal and thought provoking stories that will engage viewers and provide valuable information about planning for end-of-life.

“As a filmmaker, it is a tremendous honor and huge responsibility telling someone else’s story,” said Tom Kleespie, AZPM Senior Producer, Special Projects. “Each story that we tell in Passing On contains a valuable lesson, a moral that I hope the audience will take away with them. The families featured in this documentary allowed us in during one of the most difficult times in their lives. I hope viewers will realize the importance of dealing with these issues if they ever find themselves in a similar situation.”

The film will share perspectives from physicians who work with the dying and families who were willing to share their stories about their end-of-life journey.

The crew also traveled to La Crosse, Wisconsin, to learn more about a town where more than 90 percent of residents have completed advanced directives. The nationwide average is just 30 percent. Why are this town’s residents so much more prepared for end-of-life issues than the vast majority of Americans? Kleespie interviewed several experts and locals to find out.

You’ll also hear from Dr. VJ Periyakoil of the Stanford University School of Medicine about how medical professionals must sensitively communicate important information to people across a wide array of cultures and native customs.

You can see the trailer here​.

More information can be found by clicking here.

Hospice volunteers honor veterans year-round

For Vietnam combat veteran David Powell, it is a privilege and an honor to say a final thank you and give one final salute to fellow veterans who are dying at Tucson Medical Center’s hospice, Peppi’s House, or in hospice care at a home.

Many of the veterans find it hard to fathom that they would be honored by the We Honor Vets program: They were just doing their duty, they insist.

Veteran Ceremony

David Powell presents a flag to veteran Thomas Elliott while D.A. Falkner looks on. Elliott served in the U.S. Army. He passed away four days after this ceremony.

Others, some of whom did not come home to a thank you, particularly returning from Vietnam or the so-called “forgotten war” in Korea, are moved to tears. Some of them haven’t even shared details of their service with family – but when they see another coming in uniform, to hang a flag and express their gratitude, it opens doors. Here’s someone who understands.

“For me, it’s part of a spiritual journey to be with them at this time,” said Powell, who had cared for veterans as a volunteer chaplain when he learned about TMC’s program, which will honor an estimated 300 veterans this year. We Honor Veterans is an awareness campaign, designed to recognize that veterans often have different medical and spiritual challenges, and developed in collaboration with the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization.

Veterans are honored with certificates of appreciation, lapel pins, American flags and other tokens of gratitude, such as pillowcases or quilts in patriotic design.

Lt. Col. D.A. Falkner, a former Air Force veteran, said while it is important to fly a flag on Veterans Day and Memorial Day to commemorate those who have served, he is grateful for the opportunity to forge more personal connections. “I just appreciate being able to thank them directly for their patriotism and service to their country,” he said.

Falkner said there are many ways to show appreciation to veterans:

  • Active duty military members in particular are needed to perform final honor presentations to veterans in hospice
  • Identify your local veteran organizations and see if there are ways to donate or volunteer
  • Attend community events that commemorate service
  • Mobilize church and school groups to write thank you letters to members currently serving
  • Thank a veteran close to you
  • Thank a veteran you see in the community

Program volunteers are considering an extension of the program to honor veterans in care homes, before they need hospice services. “This is where my heart is,” said Powell. “It is such a powerful program, that we wanted to be able to advance its reach into the community to honor veterans before they reach the end of their lives.”

Go to Sharing Memories to download a TMC Hospice Life Story Book, where you can create a family treasure of memories and experiences of your loved ones. You can also use the form to sign up for our quarterly newsletter or get more information about volunteering.

Nov. 13 end-of-life conference features Dr. Andrew Weil

2015 Conference Art FPODr. Andrew Weil discusses integrative approaches to end-of-life care Friday, Nov. 13, at the Tucson Convention Center as part of the annual End-of-Life Community Conference hosted by TMC Hospice, Casa de la Luz Foundation and Carondelet Hospice & Palliative Care.

During this day of insight, speakers and attendees will expWeilore new facets of care and compassion at the end of life. Keynote speaker Weil is a world-renowned leader and pioneer in the field of integrative medicine, a healing-oriented approach to health care, which encompasses body, mind and spirit. As founder and director of the Arizona Center for Integrative Medicine at the University of Arizona College of Medicine, he also holds the Lovell-Jones Endowed Chair in Integrative Rheumatology and is Clinical Professor of Medicine and Professor of Public Health.

Other topics include:

• Healthy Living Through the End of Our Lives with James Nicolai, M.D., Casa de la Luz Hospice

• End-of-Life Through the Eyes of an ER Doctor: A Personal Journey and Perspective with Alan Molk, M.D.

• Through the Rabbit Hole: Seeing Death Through the Lens of Alice, Mystics and Indigenous Teachers with Pamela Hale, M.A.

Closing Plenary: Compassion, the Caregiver and the Clinician with Mary Frances O’Connor, Ph.D., UA Assistant Professor, Department of Psychology & Psychiatry

Registration begins at 8:30 and the $75 registration includes breakfast and lunch. Continuing education credits are available. To register and for more information click on registration link below:
Eventbrite - End-of-Life Community Conference

This conference is hosted by TMC Hospice, Casa de la Luz Foundation and Carondelet Hospice & Palliative Care

   

 

Special thanks to our conference sponsors:

  • The Connie Hillman Family Foundation
  • Arlene Gerety

     

          

Special thanks to our lunch sponsor:

Canyon Bank

Making a difference for our veterans – one stitch at a time

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Last month, a special delivery hit TMC Hospice.

The Flying Needles, a local handicrafts group, donated 11 valor quilts and 34 patriotic pillowcases for TMC Hospice’s Veterans Program.

“We are so grateful for the Flying Needles donation of these beautiful, patriotic quilts and pillowcases. You can tell they are made with love and full appreciation of our veterans,” said Krista Durocher, volunteer coordinator for TMC Hospice.

From 10-2 on any given Thursday, anywhere between 15 and 25 ladies show up to the small meeting room in the Geasa-Marana Community Library. Each lady with the Flying Needles brings her own project to sew, crochet or embroider. During their time together, they set aside time to show and tell about their individual projects.

“One day a week we meet with friends, share fellowship, forget worries, laugh and enjoy each other’s company,” said Pam Owens, who is one of the founding members of the group. “We share techniques and enthusiasm for projects. We encourage each other and enjoy a day away from our normal routine.”

Some of the Needlers make the quilts and pillowcases that benefit TMC Hospice. It took about two weeks to make the pillow cases, Owens said, adding that the quilts are made at people’s convenience throughout the year as supplies and motivation are available.

“When a veteran patient is presented with one of these, the reaction is so heartwarming,” Durocher said. “You can tell it touches them deeply that someone took time to make this for them.”

The Flying Needles encourages participants to sew for local charities and has supported a variety of organizations over the years. Three years ago, the Flying Needles were approached by TMC Hospice to make valor quilts. A number of folks decided to sew lap quilts and then, later, began making pillowcases.

“We have the belief that the needs of people in Tucson and the world are great,” Owens said. “We feel that if we can help one person that person may be motivated to help another person and so on and so on and people will give and accept help. We like to imagine a chain of people helping others in need.”

Owen added that “one person cannot help everyone, but everyone can help one person.”

TMC Hospice is always accepting donations of patriotic quilts and patriotic fabric. Hospice patients who are veterans are presented with a patriotic quilt or pillowcase during an honoring by one of TMC Hospice’s veteran volunteers and sometimes active military from the community. During this honoring, the veteran is also presented with an appreciation plaque, military branch pin and a flag. The goal is make sure veterans know their service was not in vain and that they are appreciated.

For details on how you can help, contact Durocher, (520) 324-2433 or Krista.Durocher@tmcaz.com. Click to read more about TMC Hospice Veterans Program.

Cultivating compassion for those who work with the dying a topic of keynote speaker for Nov. 14 hospice conference

Hospice Conference logoUnderstanding how clinicians respond to the distress and suffering of others is critical to those who work in palliative care, says the keynote speaker of an upcoming conference hosted by three local nonprofit organizations focused on hospice care.

“Over the past 45 years, I’ve worked with various types of clinicians in the end-of-life care field,” said Joan Halifax, PhD, a pioneer in the field of end-of-life care, “and so many have experienced a certain amount of distress.”

Halifax will explore the power of compassionate care of the dying during the End-of-Life Community Conference ‑ Compassionate Conversations: Dying and Living Well, on Friday, Nov. 14, from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. at St. Philip’s in the Hills Episcopal Church, 4440 N. Campbell Ave.  The event is sponsored by TMC Hospice, Carondelet Hospice & Palliative Care and Casa de la Luz Foundation.

HalifaxHalifax received her doctorate in medical anthropology in 1973 and has lectured on the subject of death and dying at academic institutions and medical centers around the world. She received a National Science Foundation fellowship in visual anthropology, was an honorary research fellow in medical ethnobotany at Harvard University and was a distinguished visiting scholar at the Library of Congress.

Her work adds to an expanding body of research that is evolving within neuroscience and social psychology focusing on empathy and compassion in response to suffering.

“It takes patience, courage, insight, discernment and real concern to care for the dying,” said Halifax, who is also founder, abbot and head teacher of Upaya Institute and Zen Center in Santa Fe, N.M.

One thing she plans to discuss is misperceptions about empathy and compassion.

Empathy is, in part, “about attuning to the emotions of others and taking others’ perspectives,” she said. But empathy does not necessarily involve concern for others or the intention to relieve the suffering of others.

“Empathy can be fraught with pitfalls. People can experience empathetic distress.”

An important part of compassion is regulating one’s empathy, said Halifax, who trains health care workers to be “more grounded, more intentional and balanced; to work with one’s own emotional response.”

“There are many approaches to cultivating compassion,” Halifax said, and one of her goals for conference participants is “to create enthusiasm for compassion.”

To register or for more information about the conference, visit www.TucsonHospiceConference.eventbrite.com

 

Darling Benefactor Leaves Lasting Legacy

Burt Darling in one of the family rooms he named at Peppi’s House, TMC’s inpatient hospice facility.

Tucson Medical Center has lost a great friend and benefactor with the recent passing of H. Berton Darling.

Mr. Darling was a highly regarded local home builder and land developer. He and his family were also strong supporters of the hospital, including donating the final portion of funds needed to complete the $4.5 million construction of Peppi’s House, our beautiful inpatient hospice facility.

In a 2007 TMC Foundation On Center article, TMC Vice President and Chief Development Officer Michael J. Duran said, “His generosity cannot be overstated. Bert has helped us create this beautiful state-of-the-art facility that will provide comfort for Southern Arizona families for years to come.” (Read full story at Darling Gift Puts Peppi’s House Over the Top.)

We extend our sympathies to his family. Mr. Darling and his wife, Mary, left our community a much better place and their legacy will never be forgotten.


LoveLight Tree Warms Spirits, Supports TMC Hospice

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TMC Auxiliary hosted its annual LoveLight tree lighting ceremony Wednesday evening in front of Peppi’s House, bringing the community together once again to share some holiday spirit and support TMC Hospice.

About 75 people turned out to hear from Auxiliary board member and president-elect Jack Schwartz, TMC Chaplain Amy Barron-Gafford and Hospice Director Mary Steele; enjoy tasty treats and hot apple cider; meet new people; and celebrate the spirit of the season.

Hundreds of LoveLights lit up the tree, with white lights memorializing loved ones who have passed away, and red, green and blue lights honoring family, friends and co-workers. Additionally, the Grand Lodge of Arizona Knights of Pythias presented TMC Hospice with a generous gift of $300 to support the Veteran to Veteran volunteer program at Peppi’s House.

And Auxiliary volunteer Rosemary Capin created all the beautiful gift baskets again this year, which were a big hit in the raffle!

All money raised from the sponsoring of LoveLights goes to benefit TMC Hospice.

It’s not too late to take part! If you’d like to make a contribution of $5 for one LoveLight or $10 for three, you may do so by contacting Kate at the TMC Auxiliary, 324-5355.

What is TMC Hospice?
TMC Hospice is a special program that cares for people with any terminal illness after the patient, physician and family decide that aggressive curative treatment is no longer appropriate. Hospice care provides a sensitive support system that helps patients and their families cope with physical, spiritual and emotional concerns related to the terminal condition. Hospice affirms life and regards dying as a normal process.

At TMC Hospice, we consider life a sacred journey of transformation, personal growth and discovery. Our mission is to help those with life-limiting illnesses walk their path of life and receive compassion, dignity and love.

Hospice Can Help
Coping with a terminal illness for which there is no cure affects everyone whose life it touches – patients, families and friends. Dealing with the changes and problems can be a difficult challenge for everyone involved. Hospice will help patients and families face this challenge.

Hospice care allows patients with limited life expectancy to stay in the comfortable surroundings of their own home. This is accomplished through the support of a dedicated team of experienced and compassionate, professional staff and volunteers who provide physical, emotional and spiritual support for patients and their families.

TMC Hospice: We Honor Veterans Every Day

November 11 is the day set aside each year in our country to honor and remember the brave service men and women who have put their lives on the line to defend our country and our freedoms.

For the staff at TMC Hospice, though, any day can be a veteran’s day.

Mary Anne Burr was proud of her service as a flight nurse during World War II. Mary Anne, who was at Peppi’s House this past May, had cared for many wounded servicemen and cradled more than one in their final moments. In this photo, TMC Hospice staff gratefully acknowledges Mary Anne’s service.

This set of photos show Mary Anne during her service years.

TMC Hospice provides care for more than 225 U.S. veterans each year, and the need is only growing. The average age is 61 of the country’s more than 22.6 million veterans, more than half of whom served during wartime. Some 54,000 veterans are dying each month. The need for compassionate, evidenced-based end-of-life care will only grow for this population.This need is why TMC Hospice joined with national partners We Honor Veterans and the Hospice Veterans Partnership to better care for, reach out and honor veterans needing end-of-life care.

Hospice care needs to address veterans’ unique medical challenges that come with histories of wounds, frostbite and cold injuries, nuclear and chemical weapon exposure, mental health and substance abuse, and more.

These men and women are our warriors, trained by the military in a culture of stoicism. As a group, they under-report symptoms. They have trust issues. They have an inability to stop ‘fighting’ and allow a natural relationship with death.

In addition to easing veterans’ physical journey, this is last opportunity to ensure veterans know their service was not in vain, and that they are appreciated.

TMC Hospice is proud to have recently reached Level 2 with the We Honor Veterans program. The aim is to achieve Level 4 within the next two years.

Part of this effort means that TMC Hospice is working with different veteran organizations to make sure veterans know that they have a hospice benefit, and that, in fact, a majority of hospice care is provided by community-based facilities and not necessarily by the VA medical system.

Veterans and families sacrificed to serve our country. It is TMC Hospice’s great honor to serve our veterans in their time of need.

Learn more about We Honor Veterans at www.wehonorveterans.org. For more information on TMC Hospice or becoming a Veteran to Veteran volunteer, please call TMC Hospice, (520) 324-2438.

Amazing love – in memory of Isaiah Jordan Banks

This morning, walking into work, child-life specialist Jolene Eggert, took a photo of a balloon tied to a cactus that was planted and dedicated last month in memory of Isaiah Jordan Banks who was only 9 years old. Her thought was “Amazing love happens at TMC.”

Here’s part of Isaiah’s and his family’s story:

William Banks came to consider TMC for Children a home away from home – for his son, Isaiah, and for his whole family.

“Everyone on the staff has been like an extension of our family,” the father said. Isaiah Banks spent major parts of his 9 years in hospital beds, both at TMC and elsewhere. Isaiah’s first surgery took before he was born – an in-utero procedure designed to treat his spina bifida.

Many other surgeries and treatments followed as Isaiah and his family had to deal with his challenging medical condition.

“We’ve been to hospitals all around the country, including some major medical centers, and TMC is top of the line, all the way,” said the father of five. “The staff takes care of the whole family, while of course focusing on what the patient needs.”

This summer, the family made the decision to place Isaiah under the care of TMC Hospice, which has a pediatric program geared to the unique needs of children and their families. Isaiah passed away July 20.

His family held a celebration of his life at the TMC Marshall Conference Center, with food, music and a lot of love. His memory continues as a cactus was planted in his honor in front of the entry to TMC for Children. This week, someone place a red-heart balloon next to it.

Visit the TMC for Children blog to learn more about Isaiah and child life specialists, or learn more about Isaiah on the family’s Facebook page.


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