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.

Heart of Hospice dedicated to caring for patients in their homes

Meet the Heart of Hospice, Lynn Rumsey PCTThe enthusiasm, energy and compassion of one of TMC Hospice’s longest-serving home-health aides earned her the Heart of Hospice for the third quarter.

Since 2002, Lynn Rumsey, a patient care technician, has been visiting hospice patients in their homes, helping them with personal care (bathing, shaving, hair care, etc.), exercise, safely getting in and out of bed and chairs, as well as teaching families how to care for their loved ones.

“She’s so energetic and enthusiastic, it’s like every week for Lynn is her first week here,” said Stephanie Carter, manager of TMC Hospice at Home, during a celebration last week.

According to one nomination from a colleague (nominations are anonymous):

“Lynn is always helpful and pleasant with co-workers and patients. One recent patient’s family reported that in all the years of working with doctors, nurses and others in the medical profession, she was the most compassionate, pleasant person they have met.”

Lynn Rumsey, PCT and home health aide for TMC HospiceThe colleague goes on to give an example:

On a Saturday that Lynn was seeing patients, she bathed a new patient, called the office to report a problem with the patient’s Foley [catheter], and stayed at the patient’s home to assist the RN with troubleshooting and replacing the Foley.

The patient was very large and the patient’s husband unsure of how to care for her, and the RN would not have been able to insert the Foley without Lynn’s’ help. The patient’s husband was more calm and relaxed after observing Lynn providing care to his wife.

As one colleague said, “We are privileged to have Lynn on our TMC Hospice Home Care Team.”

As Heart of Hospice for the quarter, Rumsey’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

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.”

Mission Moment: Nurse heroes saving a life out in the community

When nurses Kimberly Fore and Cindy Sacra agreed to staff the first aid booth at the recent Health Insurance Enrollment & Family Fun Festival in early December, they figured they might help with the small injuries that can come along with community running events.

With three races that morning, including nearly 1,000 girls and their running buddies doing a 5k through Girls on the Run, they figured it would be the usual. Scrapes. Maybe a blister. At worst, a turned ankle.

So in that split second when they heard there was a runner down during a 1-mile running event for men, they thought maybe they’d be patching up a skinned knee.

Fore, the director of TMC Hospice, started loping out to the scene. A passing runner told her it was serious. She broke into a sprint and found the runner in the throes of a serious medical event.

Sacra, the Clinical Informatics team lead, was right behind her, carrying medical supplies.

The two, along with TMCOne front desk service representative Lauren Barnhart, whose son was participating in the race, provided CPR until medics arrived.

In large part because of the speedy reaction of the TMC staff member, the man was revived and taken to the hospital.

While others at the festival were in awe of the heroic work that unfolded before them, Fore and Sacra afterward brushed off any adulation. “We’re nurses. This is what we do,” Fore said. Sacra agreed. “When we have an opportunity to help someone in need, we are always going to respond.”

Barnhart agreed that help was just instinctive. “It was my first reaction to help this gentleman. In the moment I was doing what I do best. It is so rewarding to know I helped save someone’s grandpa, uncle, brother, dad or son.”

But for others, it was a moment that crystallized TMC’s mission.

“Our mission is to provide exceptional health care with compassion. That was on display on this day and I am humbled to work with amazing people who serve our community every day,” said Julia Strange, TMC’s vice president of Community Benefit.

Tucson Medical Center earlier this year adopted a new mission statement. To celebrate, we will share 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.

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.

 

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.

Peppi’s House, other community organizations benefit from employees’ volunteerism

caring-closet

Debra Pina and Healther Burkett (front) deliver items for the Caring Closet at Peppi’s House. Helping receive the items are Diane Denien, Sara Arthur and Krista Durocher.

Employees on the hospital’s business side made a special delivery to TMC Hospice yesterday. It wasn’t a bill or a medical record, though you might expect it from the folks in the Revenue Cycle division, including the Business Office, Scheduling, Admitting and Health Information Management.

Instead the delivery was to help stock the Caring Closet at Peppi’s House, TMC’s inpatient hospice. The employees had personal items from pajamas and socks to items that help lift patients’ spirits such as make-up, nail polish, books, magazines, puzzles and playing cards.

The effort was spearheaded by Debra Rahn, a TMC admissions representative and a member of the Revenue Cycle Community Projects Committee, which gives back to the community through donations and volunteerism.

Each of the nine committee member submits recommendations on causes they are passionate about or have identified as a need in the community, explained Cathy Gragg, manager of TMC Enterprise Scheduling and committee chair. Then they vote on what to take on, usually one or two per quarter.

“Once the project is identified, we enlist the support of our division to collect donations or to sign up people to volunteer,” Gragg said. “We don’t really push this outside of our areas but since we interface with a number of other departments, sometimes they’ll bring in donations as well.”

Rahn’s effort to help Peppi’s House is just another area where she demonstrates her compassion and dedication, Gragg said. “I’m privileged to have her on our committee and as an employee I work with.”

In addition to collecting items for Peppi’s House, the committee this year has led efforts to:

Other committee members helping coordinate these efforts in addition to Rahn and Gragg include Briana Rodriguez, Debra Pina, Heather Burkett, Hope Maldonado, Lamanda Cruz, Patricia King and Tracy Tatman.

Homecare nurse named inaugural Heart of Hospice

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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.”

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.

 

TMC Auxiliary presents gifts, welcomes new officers

Auxiliary Logo ProofThe TMC Auxiliary is thrilled to present gifts to TMC and announce a new installation of board of director officers! The TMC Auxiliary formed in 1949 and remains an integral part of the hospital providing volunteer and philanthropic support. TMC Auxiliary volunteers work in more than 40 areas of the hospital. In addition to giving their time, they also provide annual financial support to TMC, funding needed internal programs and projects.

The support the Auxiliary provides to TMC is truly astounding. In 2015, for example, they logged more than 78,000 hours – the equivalent of 40 full-time employees! Auxiliary volunteers made almost 1,500 heart pillows and delivered them to our cardiac patients to help them recover. They made and delivered nearly 400 walker bags and delivered them to patients in need along with almost 200 quilts for our pediatric patients and babies in the newborn intensive care unit. Additionally, they provided more than 16,000 patient-assistance visits.

On behalf of the TMC Auxiliary:

▪ Jon Schwindt presented a $50,000 check for the Joel M. Childers, M.D., Women’s Surgery Center
▪ Janet Grubbs presented a $30,000 check for breast screening services
▪ Sue Burg presented a $10,000 check for TMC’s Memory Care program
▪ Diana Bergen presented a $10,000 check for the Healing Arts program and a $4,000 check for TMC Foundation events
▪ Ginny Robbins presented a $7,500 check to provide medical massages to open heart patients
▪ Al Frizelle presented a $7,500 check to provide scholarships to patients who need Cardiac Rehab
▪ Lewis Jones presented a $6,000 check for TMC Hospice family assistance
▪ Shirley Alfano presented a $5,000 check for pediatric staff to purchase Tomas the Turtle stuffed animals for children to hold as they undergo anesthesia

IMG_4123Congratulations to the new TMC Auxiliary Officers:

▪ Dan Bailey, President
▪ Jim Kelaher, Vice President
▪ Gary Hembree, Treasurer
▪ Ginny Robbins, Parliamentarian
▪ Janet Grubbs, Volunteer Advocate
▪ Diana Bergen, Member at Large
▪ Marge Zismann, Member at Large
▪ Barbara Hammond, Member at Large
▪ Shirley Alfano, Member at Large
▪ Carole Fee, Service Coordinator
▪ Lewis Jones, Past President

TMC sincerely appreciates all of our volunteers for their time, talent and treasure!
If you are interested in joining this incredible volunteer force at TMC, please click 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.

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.

Ceremony honors service of two local WWII veterans

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When TMC Hospice volunteer and retired Air National Guard Lt. Col. Dave Falkner got the assignment to recognize a local resident as part of the We Honor Veterans program, he called to see if anyone else was a veteran. That’s how veterans Leonard Groh, 93, and Clara Robinson, 98, became the center of attention one morning this week at their assisted living home in central Tucson.

During World War II, Groh was a mechanic with the Army Air Corps, working on B-17s in Greenland. Though he wasn’t in a combat unit, he and his comrades would at times face the perilous task of going on recovery missions into a cold sea, including riding skis to get to stranded crewmen.

Robinson, a member of the Woman’s Air Corp, likes to say she was in for the duration – she joined as soon as possible after the WAC was created in May 1942. She notes with pride that the last digits of her Army serial number were 045. She was in Paris when the war ended in Europe and in Japan when the war ended there. She left the military in 1948.

Both veterans were honored with a short ceremony where they were presented with a plaque that reads: “We pay special tribute to you for your military service to American and for advancing the universal hope of freedom and liberty for all.” In addition, they received a lapel pin, a small flag, a patriotic quilt and a World War II Veteran decal.

In addition to Falkner, other service members honoring the veterans included SMSgt. Rose Mardula with the 162nd Air National Guard, Specialist David Powell formerly with the U.S. Army and CMSgt. Mike Flake with the Air Force Reserves.

After providing the mementos to the veterans, the service members stood together, offering a last tribute salute to them both. Many people in attendance were visibly moved by the ceremony, including Groh’s wife, who lives with him in the same care home, and his two children.

The impetus behind the We Honor Veterans program is to provide simple acts of gratitude at the end of life to provide a final opportunity for veterans to know their service was not in vain and that they are appreciated.

At TMC Hospice, alone, more than 300 veterans are cared for each year, with the need only growing. Presently, according to the national World War II Museum, almost 500 World War II veterans are dying each day with only about 855,000 veterans remaining out of the 16 million who served. And this doesn’t include service members from other eras.

Click to learn more about the TMC Hospice We Honor Veterans program and how to get involved.

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

 

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!

Fundraising for a cause: TMC Hospice Complementary Therapies

The 16th annual Desert Toyota of Tucson Rock ‘N Rodeo took place on Saturday, March 16, at JW Marriott Starr Pass Resort and Spa.  More than 550 people dressed down – wearing jeans and cowboy boots – to eat, drink, line dance, gamble and bid on fabulous silent auction items.

Proceeds from the event support emergency funds to cover services to families in need and complementary therapies – things like massage therapy, music therapy, pet therapy and aromatherapy.  These services are often not covered by insurance, but improve the quality of life for those facing long term medical needs.

“They can soothe and distract a patient, which can help take them away from their pain and suffering  – even if it’s only for a few minutes.  We want to do everything we can to make them comfortable, and create a loving environment during their time here,” said Mary Steele, TMC Hospice Director.

The total amount raised at this year’s Rock ‘N Rodeo will be released next week.  A special thank you to those who attended, and those who support TMC Hospice throughout the year.

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.

Saddle up for the 16th annual Rock ‘N Rodeo: March 16

Squeeze into your tightest wranglers, and dust off your cowboy boots! 

Excitement is building for the 16th annual Desert Toyota of Tucson Rock ‘N Rodeo on Saturday, March 16, at JW Marriott Starr Pass Resort and Spa.  “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 Mary Steele, TMC Hospice Director.

Forget sitting at a table most of the night.  There’s a silent auction, casino tables, and even line dancing to get you moving.

RNR CommitteeThis year’s event will honor 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.

Proceeds 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 Steele. 

That kindness is also extended to the families.  Steele said, “When a patient passes away, we light a candle while the family is waiting for the mortuary or doctor.  It’s a way for them to focus their vision, and help ground them.”

The Desert Toyota of Tucson Rock ‘N Rodeo has become a highly-anticipated tradition in which memories are made.  “It’s always great to see familiar faces having a good time year after year,” said Steele.  An estimated 500 people are expected this year.  Tickets are still available.

“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.

LoveLights start glowing at Peppi’s House Nov. 15, 4:30 p.m.

A symbolic tree-lighting event marks the approach of the holiday season each year at Tucson Medical Center – the illumination of the LoveLight Tree to benefit TMC Hospice.

The first LoveLight event took place in 1989, with a gathering at dusk outside the historic Erickson Building, followed by a holiday reception. The event has been held at various locations, but in recent years the LoveLight ceremony has settled at Peppi’s House, the home of TMC Hospice since 2007.

Each year the glowing lights on the LoveLight Tree represent loved ones, either as memorials or honoring those still living. Recently the tree has added gold lights, in honor of veterans and those serving in the military.

To support TMC Hospice, donors dedicate the lights for $5 each, or three for $10.  The TMC Auxiliary handles the fundraiser each year, and can sell the lights at the TMC Gift Shops, Cafeteria, or Auxiliary Office, 324-5355.

The 2012 LoveLight ceremony will be Thursday, Nov. 15, from 4:30 to 6 p.m. at Peppi’s House, on the northwest end of the TMC campus, 2715 N. Wyatt. The special observances and tree illumination help provide a warm glow to launch the holiday season.

Ben’s Belling for family that has provided Christmas dinner at Peppi’s House since 1999

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On Christmas Day 1998 Susan Teitelbaum was at TMC’s inpatient Hospice unit, Peppi’s House, sitting with her mother who would pass away a few weeks later. Susan and her family were unable to find any place to eat because everything was closed.

She decided from then on she would provide food so other families would not face the same frustration. And so she and her family have faithfully brought in food on Christmas Eve for the last 13 years so families will have a meal on Christmas.

In recognition of Susan’s generosity and kindness Hospice nurse, Jill Fuller, R.N., nominated her for a Ben’s Bell, for those who promote kindness and community. “Her and her family’s generosity on behalf of our families is truly appreciated, and it comforts family members.”

After receiving word from Jeannette Maré, mother of Ben and executive director of Ben’s Bells, the Hospice staff invited Susan and her family to Peppi’s House this past Wednesday to thank them for their support over the years. Susan didn’t know she would be belled.

Each week a person who betters Tucson is “belled.” Go to www.bensbells.org/BellingForm to submit a name. Go to www.bensbells.org or call 628-2829 for information. Recipients are featured on Friday’s Morning Blend on KGUN 9 and Saturday’s Arizona Daily Star.

A number of Susan’s family members, all of whom have helped deliver the food over the years, were on hand for the recognition. They included Susan’s brother, Dobie Frazier, his wife, Kathy, and Susan’s children Eric Teitelbaum, Shelby Teitelbaum, Nichole Foutz and Johnna Hall. Susan and Dobie’s brother, Jeff Frazier, was not able to attend.

TMC Labyrinth: a path for showing gratitude, thanks

Gratitude bestows reverence, allowing us to encounter everyday epiphanies, those transcendent moments of awe that change forever how we experience life and the world.   — John Milton

I can feel that it’s that time of year again – the time of year when you look forward to the warm rays of sun, co-workers start bringing in baked goodies, and turkeys start to arrive! A spirit of giving, while always present, becomes more tangible.

This season can also be a time when nerves get frayed, expectations and obligations pile up, and souls become weary. We may be able to help out a bit.

During this season of gratitude, I invite you to a special place of respite you may or may not know about. The TMC Hospice Labyrinth & Centering Garden can be found along Wyatt Drive, adjacent to the east end of Peppi’s House on the Tucson Medical Center campus.

It is a simple walking path. Labyrinths have been walked for thousands of years and often are used as a metaphor for a journey. You would be amazed what a quiet, reflective walk through the labyrinth will do to clear your mind and calm your nerves.

This week, as we approach Thanksgiving, consider taking a walk through the labyrinth and focusing on gratitude. Reflect on the people, places and things that renew you and give thanks for them. Give yourself this gift of gratitude.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Rev. Amy Barron-Gafford
Chaplain, TMC Hospice

For more information on walking our Labyrinth, click the TMC Labyrinth Walking Guide.


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