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.

Mission Moments: Community projects give added purpose to employee group

Each quarter the 230 employees who make up nine different areas of TMC Revenue Cycle & Health Information Management pick community projects in which to participate.

The employees, who work in areas such as admitting, billing and medical records, have been doing these projects as a group for 15 years – ever since their director, Maria Persons, brought the practice with her from Yale New Haven Health.

They’ve held drives for household items for survivors of domestic violence. They’ve adopted schools for back-to-school supplies and backpacks. They’ve collecting clothing and monetary donations for homeless teens. They’ve adopted nursing home residents, providing lap blankets, socks and other necessities we often take for granted.

They’ve donated books for book drives and stocked Peppi’s House “family closet” with pajamas, playing cards and family games for hospice visitors to help ease stress and build memories during those times of transition.

There have been holiday toy and food drives, campaigns to help provide for underserved children and most recently, an effort to provide vaccinations, leashes, collars and other supplies for the pets of homeless people. They’ve even helped fellow employees, supporting one whose home burned down and provided holiday food baskets for others going through rough patches.

The donations come from a “jeans fund” that employees pay into so they can wear jeans on the last Friday of the month, but the bulk of it comes from personal donations. The projects are selected by a committee of about a dozen employees from the nine areas and designed to mesh with TMC’s values.

“I am always overwhelmed by the generosity of the staff,” Persons said. “We’re a community-based hospital and we’re here to serve, and I think these efforts just add another level of humanity to the work we do here.”

She added that “it is just so heartening to see the work of the other community organizations out there helping and it feels good to jump in and be part of it. I’m so proud of the efforts they make each quarter because even though we’re a small group, I think we’re making a big impact.”

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

What are mission moments? They aren’t necessarily dramatic stories of heroism, although our medical staff saves lives every day. These are moments that breathe life into words – moments that are profound or powerful or touching and that remind us why we do the work we do. Hundreds of these reminders happen every day. Thank you for letting us share some with you.

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

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.

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 hummingbirds fly the coop

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Earlier this month, TMC Hospice played host to a nesting hummingbird and her two chicks. While the quiet desert setting of Peppi’s House attracts critters of all sorts, a number of hummingbird feeders–donated, filled and cleaned by volunteers–attract these smallest of birds.

Each of the 16 patient rooms in the inpatient hospice facility opens to a courtyard. It was in a tree next to the sliding glass door of one of these rooms that the nest was spotted by family members of a patient. The family alerted the staff to the nest.

With an abundance of patience and a long lens, TMC staff member Alan Stock photographed the chicks throughout their nesting time. Less than two weeks later, they had flown the coop.

 

Thoughtful Vail girl foregoes birthday gifts for Peppi’s House

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Maddie Schockmel

The top toys this year for an 8-year-old girl:  The 2013 Barbie Collector Holiday Doll, LeapFrog Ultra Kids’ Learning Tablet, and any Lego Friends set.

But Maddie Schockmel doesn’t want the Barbie.

Or the tablet.

Or even the Legos.

All she wants is for people to make a monetary donation to Peppi’s House, TMC’s inpatient hospice.

You see, Maddie’s 8th birthday is Dec.12.  She’s having a bowling party this weekend to celebrate, but rather than ask friends and family for toys, she knows the money will be better spent supporting families who are going through the pain she and her family experienced earlier this year.

Maddie’s grandmother, Karen Hood, suffered from squamous cell carcinoma.  It’s typically thought of as a skin cancer, but squamous cells exist throughout the body.  Despite never smoking, Hood developed squamous cell carcinoma of the lungs, Leigh Schockmel, Karen’s daughter and Maddie’s mother explained.  “Unfortunately she just had really bad luck.”

The Schockmel family with Grandma Karen Hood

The Schockmel family with
Grandma Karen Hood

Hood battled the disease for a year.  She endured numerous  surgeries, chemotherapy, and more than two dozen rounds of radiation in hopes that she could beat the disease and continue loving life with her grandkids.  She was in and out of the hospital, and when she needed palliative care, the family turned to Peppi’s House.  “Her body was so worn out.  We knew she wasn’t going to be able to handle much more, but we wanted that to be her decision,” said Schockmel.

This past Valentine’s Day, the family settled in to Peppi’s house.  

Exactly one week later, Hood passed away at the age of 72.

Maddie snuggles with Grandma Karen

Maddie snuggles with Grandma Karen

The Schockmel family only spent one week there, but that week left a profound impact despite the heartbreaking situation they were experiencing.  “Peppi’s was so amazing.  The staff was so welcoming and supportive of my children.  It was so peaceful, and since my mom’s pain was controlled, she was able to have conversations with her grandkids.  They could spend precious time with her and snuggle – something they could have never done in the hospital since she had so many tubes coming in and out of her.  We cherish the pictures we have from these final moments.  It was good for them, and it was good for her.  The staff at Peppi’s House made it a comfortable place to be,” said Schockmel.

With the family continuing to heal, Maddie came to her Mom and Dad a few months ago and told them how she wanted to collect money for Peppi’s House rather than ask for toys for her birthday.  “She’s just that kind of kid.  She’s always been very thoughtful, and if she sees a need, she responds to it,” said Schockmel.  Mom, along with Dad, Shanon, asked Maddie many times if she was sure this is what she wanted to do.  The answer was always ‘yes.’ 

Schockmel said Maddie understands how difficult it is to lose a loved one, and wants to help other families who are going through a similar situation.  The experience, she said, has given her children a lot of empathy, and helped them realize that they can make a difference.

On Dec. 23, Maddie, along with her parents and two older brothers, 13-year-old Zander, and 10-year-old Ethan, will bring a check to Peppi’s House in memory of Grandma Karen.

Certainly one thoughtful act by a little girl who will make an impact on many.

Thank you for your thoughtfulness, Maddie!  The TMC family hopes you know how much we appreciate it, and we wish you a very happy birthday!

Maddie brought an envelope containing $800.60 to Peppi's House in honor of her Grandma Karen

Maddie brought an envelope containing $800.60 to Peppi’s House in honor of her Grandma Karen

UPDATE:  On Dec. 23, Maddie and her family brought a beautifully decorated envelope containing $800.60 to Peppi’s House, in honor of her Grandma Karen.  Maddie spent some time chatting with TMC Hospice Director Mary Steele before posing for a few pictures. 

Please click here to see KGUN 9 On Your Side’s coverage of the story.

Maddie chats with TMC Hospice Director Mary Steele

Maddie chats with TMC Hospice
Director Mary Steele

The Schockmel Family outside Peppi's House on Dec. 23

The Schockmel Family outside
Peppi’s House on Dec. 23

LoveLights twinkling brightly outside Peppi’s House

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For some, the holiday season has officially arrived again, now that the LoveLight Tree has been illuminated outside Peppi’s House on the TMC campus.  The symbolic tree-lighting event is put on each year by the TMC Auxiliary as a benefit for TMC Hospice.

The Auxiliary raises money by selling “lights” on the LoveLight Tree that represent loved ones who have passed away and are being memorialized, or as a way to honor those who are still living.  Recently the tree has added gold lights, in honor of veterans and those serving in the military.

At the LoveLights tree-lighting party, more than 150 people gathered to visit outside Peppi’s House on a crisp evening while the sound of soft music played in the background.  Just after dusk – the moment everyone was waiting for as the crowd counted down from 10.  Suddenly the tree lit up while the crowd applauded.  Red, green, white, blue and gold lights glistened on the tree that was circled with beautiful poinsettias, and adorned with a giant heart.

The money raised during the sale of LoveLights and the event is still being tallied, but will all go to the emergency fund at TMC Hospice.  “This money is used for all sorts of things, like funerals for families who can’t afford to bury their loved ones, plane tickets for family members who can’t afford to come to Tucson and say goodbye, even things like utility bills and groceries for families who otherwise can’t afford it when they’re going through such a sorrowful time,” said Kelly Oursler, RN, TMC Hospice Manager.

Special thanks to TMC Auxiliary Vice President Lewis Jones for organizing this year’s event.

If you’d like to drive by and see the tree, it’s located at Peppi’s House, on the northwest end of the TMC Campus, 2715 N. Wyatt.

The LoveLights Tree will be up until the New Year.

Rock ‘N Rodeo wrangles up $179,000 for TMC Hospice


Folks decked out in jeans and cowboy boots enjoyed line-dancing, a silent auction and casino tables to help rake in $179,000 for TMC Hospice programs at the Desert Toyota of Tucson Rock ‘N Rodeo. The 16th annual event was held at JW Marriott Starr Pass Resort and Spa.

The proceeds will support emergency funds to cover services to families in need and complementary therapies often not covered by insurance that improve the quality of life for those facing long term medical needs. “Events like Rock ‘N Rodeo allow us to continue to offer our patients massage therapy, music therapy, pet therapy and aromatherapy. We want to do everything we can to make patients comfortable,” said Mary Steele, TMC Hospice Director.

The event is always highly anticipated among people who attend year after year, and new faces who have heard it is impossible not to have fun.

“People who come to Rock ‘N Rodeo always say that the evening is the most fun they’ve had in a long time. It’s no doubt a fun party, but the atmosphere is relaxed, so people can really just let loose and have a good time in casual western wear. There’s the fabulous food and beautiful decorations you’d expect, but it’s a little different because you can wear jeans and cowboy boots,” said Steele.

This year’s event honored Brent Berge and Jerry Cannella from Desert Toyota, the company that has sponsored Rock ‘N Rodeo for the past 16 years. TMC Hospice is a priceless part of the Tucson community and Berge and Cannella have truly had an impact on it.

Thank you to all who attended!

We tip our hats to Rock ‘N Rodeo honorees Brent Berge and Jerry Cannella

RNR logoThe 16th annual Rock ‘N Rodeo on Saturday night will honor two men whose support has been both steadfast and absolutely critical to the success of the event year after year.

Brent Berge & Jerry Cannella

Brent Berge & Jerry Cannella

Brent Berge and Jerry Cannella have truly set the bar among businesses in Tucson with their commitment and dedication to TMC.  “For a local business to consistently step up as a significant source of support for 16 years is truly remarkable,” said Michael Duran, vice president and Chief Development Officer, TMC Foundation.

Hospice volunteer and former Rock ‘N Rodeo co-chair Lynne McGregor walked into Desert Toyota in 1996 to ask for their sponsorship.  “Her warmth and sincerity was something we couldn’t refuse,” said Cannella.  “After spending time with Lynne we felt like the cause was more than worthy of our support.”

As the title sponsor of Rock ‘N Rodeo, Desert Toyota has provided the financial means to help TMC Hospice continue to grow as a valuable program and support system for families in Southern Arizona.  Over the years, Desert Toyota’s contributions have supported the construction of Peppi’s House, the 16-bed in-patient home for TMC Hospice, along with complementary therapies and a special emergency fund to cover services for families in need.

The annual Rock ‘N Rodeo has become a tradition for the Desert Toyota team.  “The employees feel privileged to be part of the whole thing,” said Cannella.  “They realize how much hospice does for people.”

Berge and Cannella’s commitment to hospice goes beyond their sponsorship role and touches on a more personal side.  Cannella had a family member and a good friend who experienced hospice care, and Berge has had several employees’ loved ones as patients in hospice care as well.

“The Desert Toyota team is honored to contribute to such a special community service,” said Berge.  “The entire hospice team is made up of incredibly wonderful people from the upper leadership to the nursing staff, social workers and patient care techs.”

TMC Hospice has become part of the Desert Toyota family, and Berge and Cannella are part of the TMC family.  Their support and dedication to our community is honorable as they continue to leave their mark on TMC Hospice.

“Paying it forward” at Peppi’s House

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Naomi Johnson and Kelsey Ingerson

Sometimes a simple act of paying it forward makes all the difference in the world.  There’s an ongoing act of kindness at Peppi’s House, thanks to a pair of teenagers with big hearts, a project to do, and the support of their church behind them.  Their inspiration is the phenomenal work done at TMC Hospice.

Naomi Johnson and Kelsey Ingerson are freshmen at Tanque Verde High School.  The 14 year olds also attend Tanque Verde Lutheran Church.  They had to come up with a community service project as part of their youth group confirmation class, and knew right away they wanted to help Peppi’s House.  Naomi’s grandmother spent time there last August.  Many prayers were answered as she left the inpatient unit and began hospice home care through TMC but was then transferred out of hospice to pursue a more aggressive treatment.   These days, she is doing okay. 

But Naomi was so impressed by the care her beloved grandma received that she felt compelled to give back.  “Everybody was so caring, and made sure we were all very comfortable.  The nurses would take the time to ask us how we were doing.  They would ask us how our day was, and if they could do anything to help us.  It was nice connecting with them.  They helped give us peace of mind.  My grandmother loved a lot of the people there,” she says. 

Kelsey’s grandmother also received hospice care before passing away.

For their project, the girls decided to ask congregants of their church to donate items that would comfort hospice patients.  They set up a basket, put a paragraph in the newsletter, and were amazed by what happened over the next few weeks.  The basket was overflowing with things like pajamas, soaps, shampoo, conditioner, lotion, tissues, even candy.  “It was a lot more than we expected,” says Kelsey.

The teens are working with hospice social workers to create customized baskets out of the donations they collect.  “They’re going to call us and tell us what a patient needs, and then we’ll make a basket specifically for that person,” Naomi explains.

“I think these baskets will really brighten the spirits of these patients and their families.  It makes me feel really good to know that we’re helping people who are going through such a difficult time,” says Kelsey.

The project was welcomed with open arms by TMC Hospice.  “We are so touched by what these young women have done for our patients at Peppi’s House.  Often people come to us after days or weeks in the hospital and are without anything nice to call their own,” says Nancy Franklin-Hicks, TMC Hospice in-patient unit social worker.  “Last week, we gave a set of fuzzy warm pajamas to a woman on the unit who was using a hospital gown.  She was so touched, and started crying.  When I told her about Naomi and Kelsey’s project to provide comfort items to people at Peppi’s, she said, ‘They are the type of granddaughters one would hope for.’”

The girls plan on collecting and distributing donations long after their project is officially over.  They hope to continue their work for the rest of their time in high school.

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.



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