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.”

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Spotlight on Employee Service: Nancy Spiller

Nancy Spiller sure has come a long way from her first days at TMC 45 years ago.  “It’s funny because my goal when I started was to be here five years.  I just kept going to different areas,” she said.

She started as a cashier, moved to data processing, and eventually became a unit clerk.  She floated at first, working wherever she was needed, including the nursery and ER.  The entire time, she admits, she was scared to death.

“I thought, ‘oh my gosh.  I’ll never make it.  They’re going to fire me the second week I’m here!’“

After spending time as a staff coordinator in Moqui, she became a unit clerk.  Her next stop: to Tucson Orthopaedic Institute as a supervisor for the therapy department.  It’s through this experience that she became involved in Outpatient Therapy.  She currently works in Audiology.

Nancy is quick to credit her coworkers with making her time at TMC so enjoyable.  “This is a good team.  This is an extremely good team.  Everybody helps everybody.  It’s like family.   I’ve met my best friends here.”

The feeling is certainly mutual.  Just ask Joseph Martin, who has worked with Nancy in Outpatient Therapy for the past decade: “Nancy has a big heart.  I really admire that about her.  She is willing to help you anyway she can.”

Nancy’s manager, Marylou Fragomeni, says that improvements in technology continue to change what the job requires. ..and without fail, Nancy adapts with enthusiasm.  “She’s incredible.  You can’t believe what it’s like to work with somebody who comes in everyday, ready for the challenge of what we do.  It’s amazing to me.”

We congratulate you on your years of success, Nancy, and thank you for your commitment to Tucson Medical Center.

Spotlight on Employee Service: Service Pin Ceremony

It’s hard to believe that it’s already that time of year again, where we shine the spotlight on some extraordinary employees, and celebrate their many years of service to Tucson Medical Center.  The annual Service Pin Ceremony in which TMC honors employees who have reached a five-year milestone of consecutive service, will take place on Saturday, Sept. 8, at the Westin La Paloma.

We wanted to dish up some much-deserved kudos for these employees ahead of the event as well.  Starting today, you can read about these incredible people, and their memories from their time at TMC.  This year, we are giving special recognition to  some long-time employees, including one 50-year honoree:  David Howell from Radiology.  David lived on campus during his early days here, where he rented a room for $12.50 a month!  There are some other long-time stars, too, including Nancy Spiller and Tina Aviles, who have been here for 45-years.  There’s another group right behind them at 40-years of service that includes Janie Cook, Patti Kubista, Georgia Turner, Rita Cadava, Vickie Nunez, Carl Lo, and Donna Brewer. 

Each employee has a story to tell, and a rich history to share.  Donna – a wound, ostomy, and continence nurse, will tell you about the early days when she had to go to Danny’s Pharmacy across the street in order to get her supplies!  There are many other honorees with amazing stories of friendship, dedication and love for TMC.

The Service Pin Ceremony is TMC’s opportunity to recognize those employees who are truly proud to be here.  Enjoy reading their stories in the coming days.  They may conjure up some memories yourself!

About the ceremony:  TMC’s annual  Service Pin Ceremony will be held on Saturday, Sept. 8, at the Westin La Paloma.  This year’s theme is the 2012 Olympics – Celebrating TMC’s Medalists.  Everyone celebrating milestone anniversaries this year received invitations in the mail and can bring one guest at no charge.


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