Cigna, March of Dimes and TMC share A Common Thread

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

Having a baby? TMC’s Labor & Delivery receives top honors by Arizona Daily Star readers

BDP35955TMC’s Labor & Delivery was named Best Birthing Center by a recent poll of Arizona Daily Star readers. Readers’ Choice awards also went to TMC for Best Hospital, Best Surgical Weight Loss and Best Emergency Department.

More than 5,000 babies are born at TMC every year. In fact, physicians at TMC delivered 5,527 babies in 2014. With all private rooms, laboring mothers can enjoy walking around the unit while using telemetry fetal monitoring.

Expectant moms know that they and their newborns are in good hands, around the clock. Labor & Delivery has dedicated perinatologists, neonatologists and anesthesiologists who are in house 24-hours a day as well as a level III Newborn Intensive Care Unit that provides advanced care for premature, low birth-weight and critically ill infants.

TMC is also the only hospital in Southern Arizona to participate in the Arizona Public Cord Blood Program, giving expectant parents the option to publicly donate their baby’s umbilical cord blood. Donated cord blood that meets a certain set of criteria will be included on the Be The Match national registry where it could save the life of someone with a life-threatening disease who needs a stem cell transplant.

TMC promotes the “Golden Hour” – an hour of skin-to-skin contact with mom and baby for the first hour after birth – as well as 24-hour rooming so that baby never leaves mom’s room unless medically necessary.

Inpatient lactation services are also available seven days a week to help new moms get the hang of breastfeeding. Seven registered nurses who are international board-certified lactation consultants are dedicated to helping women breastfeed their newborns. But the support TMC offers doesn’t stop when baby goes home. Outpatient lactation services are available seven days a week for moms who need extra breastfeeding support, regardless of where they delivered. TMC’s many childbirth classes are noted as the best in the community and are also available to all women, again – regardless of where they will deliver.

Getting babies home safely is also a priority. TMC has had a car seat program for more than 30 years. This includes a car seat loaner program, a special needs car seat program, Children Are Priceless Passengers (C.A.P.P.) in which parents receive education and an appropriate seat for their child for only $35 as well as Boost Your Booty, which offers free booster seats for children over age 5 who weigh more than 40 pounds.

For more information about TMC’s Maternity Services, please click here.

Thank you, Tucson, for trusting us with your growing family.

Giving back: NICU unit associate making big impact on so many lives

Mary Tisdale TMC NICU Unit Clerk and volunteer

Mary Tisdale
TMC NICU Unit Associate and volunteer

Mary Tisdale never gets tired of seeing babies leave TMC’s newborn intensive care unit – bigger, stronger and healthier than when they came in. “It’s wonderful seeing a little person who came in so small and helpless get to go home because of everyone who worked together to make his or her life better. It’s without a doubt the best part of my job,” she said. As a unit associate in TMC’s NICU for the past 23 years, Tisdale provides valuable support to clinical staff. But on Saturday mornings, she provides support to those babies in a different way – and she doesn’t earn a dime for it.

A volunteer in the NICU encouraged Tisdale to think about giving back. “She told me that they were looking for someone to volunteer at The Teal Saguaro. I thought to myself, ‘I just might like that.’ I’ve always had an interest in retail, and I love shopping, so I gave it a shot,” said Tisdale.

The Teal Saguaro is the TMC Auxiliary’s resale boutique. It’s completely run by TMC volunteers, and all funds raised directly support TMC. “I’ve seen how the funds provide life-saving equipment to NICU babies, and what great comfort that gives their parents,” Tisdale said. “I see the how this money makes programs like the NICU After Care Program possible. Volunteering is just one little way I can give back and continue to help the babies who depend on TMC for care every day.”

In 2013, The Teal Saguaro raised more than $50,000 for the hospital.

The boutique, located at 5395 E. Erickson Drive, just inside the medical park south of TMC, also serves as an easy access resource center for families in need of booster seats and bike helmets for children. And when patients need clothing due to emergency circumstances, staff can offer vouchers good at The Teal Saguaro.

Tisdale says volunteering her time here is incredibly rewarding. She’s one of 500 active volunteers who graciously give their time to TMC on a regular basis, and were honored during National Volunteer Week. On any given day, an estimated 78 volunteers are working at TMC. Last year, they logged a whopping 79,000 hours. “The amount of work our volunteers do for this hospital is truly astounding,” said Hope Thomas, TMC director of Volunteer Services. “We feel so fortunate to have a force who is dedicated to giving not only their time, but also their talents. Mary is a perfect example of someone who wholeheartedly believes in TMC’s mission – a seasoned, dedicated employee who is motivated to help the community in which she serves even when she is off the clock.”

So what’s even better than seeing NICU graduates leave TMC? Tisdale said it’s when those babies come back years later – sometimes with their own kids in tow – to thank the nurses who cared for them. “That is just the best,” laughed Tisdale. “It sure makes us feel old, but there is nothing better than knowing you were a small piece of a big impact on so many lives.”

Big honors for TMC speech/language pathologist Brenda Abbey

Congratulations to TMC’s pediatric outpatient speech/language pathologist Brenda Abbey! Abbey is one of 17 professionals who have been chosen as Inside Tucson Business’ 2014 Up & Comers. The publication honors professionals who are likely to achieve positions of leadership or high standing in their organizations, industries or communities. Similarly, their accomplishments, leadership and service are likely to have a significant positive effect on their organization, industry or community during the remainder of their career.

Abbey is being honored in the bio tech/medicine/healthcare category.

TMC speech/language pathologist Brenda Abbey with the Debbault triplets: Victoria, Sophia & Cecelia

TMC speech/language pathologist Brenda Abbey with the Debbault triplets:
Victoria, Sophia & Cecelia

Abbey starting working as a speech/language pathologist at TMC in June 2006 after receiving her master’s degree from the University of Arizona Speech and Hearing Sciences program. She is a lead speech/language pathologist for pediatric inpatient care, including diagnosis and treatment for premature infants, children in the newborn and pediatric ICUs, and the regular inpatient pediatric unit. She also provides evaluation and treatment of infants through school-aged children for a variety of feeding and communication disorders. “Brenda’s expertise is in educating families and making them the center of the family interdisciplinary team,” said Mary Lou Fragomeni, TMC manager of outpatient therapies and audiology.

Abbey’s latest accomplishment is the development of a newborn ICU follow-up clinic that is unique to our community. The NICU After Care program is based on her research, and addresses a specific need for Southern Arizona’s most vulnerable newborns. Abbey coordinated with TMC’s developmental specialist Julie Seidl and the TMC Foundation to secure funding from Children’s Miracle Network.

Abbey also mentors new graduates in speech/language pathology during their introductory year, leads training for all new therapists into the NICU, and has chaired Junior League philanthropic projects. In addition, Abbey was selected as a fellow in 2013 for the first class of Arizona Leadership in Neurodevelopmental and Other Related Disorders, for future leaders in pediatric health care.

Abbey, along with the other nominees, will be honored during a ceremony on April 10.

Congratulations, Brenda!

New TMC prevention program helps young patients get on the right track

The 12 month old who wasn’t eating solid foods.

The 18 month old who wasn’t walking and didn’t know how to play with toys.

The 2½ year old who wasn’t talking.

The 3 year old who couldn’t follow directions.

TMC speech/language pathologist Brenda Abbey with the Debbault triplets: Victoria, Sophia & Cecelia

TMC speech/language pathologist Brenda Abbey with the Debbault triplets:
Victoria, Sophia & Cecelia

Toddlers and young children like this were filling up TMC Pediatric Outpatient Therapist Brenda Abbey’s schedule. Something with their development wasn’t quite right. Their parents were concerned. These children needed help.

Like she does with all new patients, Abbey started reviewing their medical histories and was stunned when she found a common thread: Many of these kids were either born premature or spent time in the newborn intensive care unit.

“It was happening too often,” she said. “I thought to myself, ‘what is falling apart for this population, and how can we catch these developmental problems sooner rather than later so that these kids don’t need therapy?’ There had to be something better than the ‘wait and see’ approach.”

Abbey started digging. She looked closer at the records of children who spent time in the NICU – at TMC, as well as other hospitals in Southern Arizona. She reached out to her counterparts in occupational and physical therapy – how many children were they currently helping who had also been born premature or were NICU graduates?

The connection she found – was alarming.

Abbey, along with TMC Developmental Nurse Specialist Julie Seidl, knew what had to be done. Using their combined 46 years of experience, they created the NICU After Care Program. The pair works together to identify babies who are about to be discharged from the NICU and who qualify for the program. These included babies who are having a hard time feeding or had been drug exposed, as well as babies born before 35 weeks gestation. “Research shows that babies born before 35 weeks gestation are at a higher risk for having language and cognition delays later in life,” Abbey explained.

“Our program is essentially developmental follow-up,” said Seidl. “It’s not a new concept, but historically it’s been an expensive model.” Seidl cited a similar program that lost state funding a number of years ago.

“This tracking is so important, and we didn’t want any family to shy away from receiving this help because they couldn’t afford it. We knew that if we could offer this program to families free of charge, it would help improve the outcomes for these children,” explained Abbey.

The two turned to the TMC Foundation and Children’s Miracle Network for support.

“When Brenda and Julie approached the TMC Foundation about funding this program, their research painted a picture of a serious need for this population. We believe this will be a pivotal program for the development of these children,” said Erika Grasse, TMC Children’s Miracle Network Director. “We applaud the efforts of these therapists, and all TMC staff who are able to identify problems or trends when it comes to our patients, and then offer a solution. We felt compelled to do what we could to help these therapists, in turn, help these children and their families. It’s the right thing to do, and we couldn’t have funded the NICU After Care program without CMN dollars. ”

The voluntary program requires the baby to return to TMC about two weeks after discharge. Abbey and Seidl will examine the infant’s feeding and do a developmental screening. Behaviors and tendencies that may seem like “no big deal” to mom and dad can signal red flags for the child’s speech, hearing or gross motor development.

The Debbault Triplets Victoria, Sophia & Cecelia

The Debbault Triplets
Victoria, Sophia & Cecelia

“We are able to identify problems in children this young. If the child prefers to move their head to one side, for example, we’re able to diagnose torticollis, a stiff neck that results from a child having a side preference. We’re also able to tell if a baby’s head is becoming misshapen. If we are able to catch these things early and educate the parents, we may be able to get that child on a preventative track as opposed to waiting until they’re a toddler when the problem becomes much more prevalent, and the therapy track is much more complicated,” explained Seidl.

Parents are asked to bring the child back at 4-6 months of age, at the first birthday, at 18 months and finally – around the second birthday.

Four to six months of age is a big transitional time for a child’s feeding, motor and developmental skills. “At that age, I can’t tell if a child is going to have a speech and language delay later in life – but research tells me they are at higher risk. So I want to see them,” said Abbey.

The 2-year mark is also an important milestone because, as Abbey explains, premature babies should have caught up with their age-matched peers by age 2. That’s when “the playing field is leveled.”

At each visit, the NICU After Care team emphasizes education. They teach these families what to look for and help them learn what certain behaviors mean. They’ll tell them what to expect in the coming weeks and what to do if they don’t see their child doing certain things.

The two started tracking the first babies as part of this program in November 2012. Already, they’ve seen their work – and their push for prevention – pay off. “We’ve had families who need to bring their babies in once a month because of the education they’ve received rather than having to bring their child in for therapy once or even twice a week when the child is older,” said Abbey.

In November 2014, the first babies turn 2 and the team will have hard data on how this program is making a difference. Until then, the NICU After Care Team will continue to advocate for these children, and serve as a lifeline for their parents.

When a community calls, TMC is ready

With Hurricane Irene bearing down on the East Coast, TMC recalls three years ago its response to Hurricane Gustav. Below are photos and article from 2008. Our thoughts go out to all in the path of the hurricane and particularly to the first responders who will be putting their lives on the line. In the meantime, TMC stands by.

When FEMA began looking for NICU transport teams to help handle Hurricane Gustav evacuations last summer, the first team able to respond was from Tucson Medical Center.

TMC sent four people to the front lines for up to a week. They were at hand to rescue newborns in the face of the storm. The team transported babies from Baton Rouge to New Orleans, sleeping one night in an airplane hangar.

The staff transported three and four babies at a time – at times in a single transport isolette. This isolette was funded by the Tohono O’dham Nation.

TMC’s Top-Level NICU Combines State-of-the-Art Care with Compassion

Newborn Intensive Care

TMC’s Newborn Intensive Care Unit nurses provide expert and complex care to critically ill infants. We nurture them to optimize their growth and development, in collaboration with the entire team of physicians, nurse practitioners, respiratory therapists, pharmacists and social workers. Each day we use our commitment, passion and expert skills to make a difference for our patients and their families.

Tucson Medical Center’s Newborn Intensive Care Unit is a highly skilled 42-bed Level III nursery with an all-RN staff. The NICU supports Labor and Delivery with a team that responds to all high-risk deliveries, and cares primarily for premature, sick and surgical newborns. The unit operates fully, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The NICU is a quiet environment, conducive to developmental growth.

  • 24-hour Neonatology Coverage – TMC is one of the few institutions in this region providing around-the-clock coverage by neonatologists* – physicians who specialize in the care of premature and ill newborns.
  • NICU Educator – The NICU educator provides training in CPR and monitors for all families who meet criteria for this service. The educator also provides current, up-to-date education for the NICU staff.
  • Infant Development Specialist – The NICU has a highly trained Infant Development Specialist who provides optimum developmental intervention to all high-risk infants.
  • Case Manager/Discharge Planner – The NICU has a full-time case manager and discharge planner to facilitate a smooth discharge.
  • Social Service – The NICU has a full-time social worker to provide support to all families in the NICU.

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