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.”

Measuring success at the first-ever bariatric clothing exchange

Tucson Bariatric patients at The Teal Saguaro's first-ever Celebrate Weight Loss Clothing Exchange

Tucson Bariatric patients at The Teal Saguaro’s first-ever Celebrate Weight Loss Clothing Exchange

Drs. Jeff Monash and Scott Welle from Tucson Bariatric, along with the TMC Auxiliary, recently held the first-ever Celebrate Weight Loss Clothing Exchange.  The event marked the kick-off to an ongoing bariatric clothing exchange at  The Teal Saguaro, TMC Auxiliary’s new resale boutique.  Bariatric patients often lose weight so quickly that it can be difficult for them to find clothes to fit every time they drop a size.

Patients who have undergone weight loss surgery at Tucson Bariatric are invited to drop off their too-large, gently used clothing and shoes  (maximum five pieces/pairs of shoes please) to either The Teal Saguaro, 5395 E. Erickson Rd., or Tucson Bariatric, 4715 E. Camp Lowell Dr. in the Swan Corporate Center.  In return, they will receive a voucher to get the same number of items in their current size. 

Tucson Bariatric employee Binda Tatro with patient Nancy Killian

Tucson Bariatric employee Binda Tatro
with patient Nancy Killian

More than two dozen patients attended the event, and were thrilled to be able to swap their too-big items for things they can wear NOW.  “The patients expressed how grateful they were to be able to find fashionable clothes in their current size at The Teal Saguaro.  We absolutely accomplished our goal of providing this service to our patients while making it fun for them.  Most left with full shopping bags, some exchanged phone numbers, and everyone was thrilled to be there,” said Dr. Monash.

There were giveaways, healthy refreshments, and friendly help.  The bariatric clothing exchange is ongoing at The Teal Saguaro for the patients of Drs. Monash and Welle.  Vouchers can be redeemed for up to one year.  The Teal Saguaro’s clothing selection always includes plus size garments and remains a great community shopping resource for everyone on a weight loss journey.

Special thanks to Jessica Monash for organizing the event, furnishing the refreshments and decorating the shopping bags.

Since 2011, TMC has been a Bariatric Center of Excellence, an accreditation from the Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery Accreditation and Quality Improvement Program.  Bariatric surgeries performed at TMC are minimally invasive, and some are even done using the da Vinci surgical robot.  For more information about TMC’s Bariatric Program, please call De Anna Elliott at (520) 324-3766.


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