DACA participant faces uncertainty with resolve, optimism

YesikaMartinezYesika Martinez looks into her future and dreams that she will someday serve others as a nurse or a counselor.

But her future possible self is on hold while she waits to see what comes next after the Trump administration’s recent directive to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, program in six months unless Congress comes up with a legislative solution.

Martinez, 25, has been in this country since she was 9 months old. She was born with spinal bifida, a birth defect in which the spinal canal doesn’t close before birth. Fearful her complex needs would not be met in their small community in Mexico, her parents moved to Tucson.

Growing up meant a lot of time in hospitals, with many surgeries, as well as extended physical and orthopedic therapy, and neurology and urology care. With the assistance of leg braces, she can walk, ride a bike and drive a car and is successfully working toward her career path.

Martinez watched her other friends in high school celebrate things like driver’s licenses and first jobs that were out of reach for someone with undocumented status.  Her parents instilled in her to believe that all things are possible and encouraged her growth.

When she turned 18, waiting to see if DACA participants would be eligible for in-state college tuition, she began volunteering at the Children’s Clinics, where she had received much of her care, in order to help other young patients going through other health care challenges.

In the afternoons, Martinez volunteered to teach violin to the afterschool mariachi group at her previous elementary school. “I couldn’t work, but I didn’t want to sit home. I wanted to do something with my life and contribute,” she said.

When DACA was passed, she was hired on at the Children’s Clinics as a clinical associate.

President Trump’s announcement, she said, “was a rough day for me because I know there are so many people in my same situation who don’t know what’s coming next.” Thanks to a recent renewal, her status is OK until early 2019, but she hopes a resolution will come long before then.

“What I think people don’t understand is that we go through a lengthy process to get permits,” she said. “We aren’t bad people. We’re working hard to go to school to try to contribute. I would ask this community to help fight for us and support us.”

TMC President and CEO Judy Rich recently wrote an opinion piece for the Arizona Daily Star, urging Congressional leaders to resolve DACA. Click here to read it. http://tucson.com/opinion/local/judy-rich-dreamers-make-our-workforce-stronger/article_7cdc96c8-9fb9-5435-957a-1893de6d62ce.html

 

TMC recognized as a Weather Ready Nation Ambassador of Excellence

BDP33616Tucson Medical Center is honored to be recognized by the National Weather Service (NWS) in Tucson as the 2017 Southeast Arizona Weather-Ready Nation Ambassador of Excellence, for going above and beyond the call of duty to help the NWS build a Weather Ready Nation.

This year,  NWS Tucson nominated TMC for its work in hosting its annual Be Safe Saturday event. For 13 years, TMC has conducted car seat checks, distributed bike helmets and booster seats and invited community partners to staff more than 100 interactive booths committed to the safety and wellness of children throughout Southern Arizona.

The National Weather Service is one of those Be Safe Saturday participants, speaking about weather safety to hundreds of families, said Ken Drozd, the Warning Coordination Meteorologist for the NWS Tucson office. “Dozens of other organizations also help educate the public about how to stay safe and we appreciate TMC’s  dedication to community safety,” he added.

BDP33551The ambassador initiative recognizes leaders in the community that help build community resilience in the face of extreme weather events – from promoting safety messages in outreach activities, to being a “weather-ready” role model.

Safety Manager Steven Barnes said TMC monitors weather conditions to ensure the safety of its HazMat team when wearing gear in the heat of the summer. The TMC Safety Department presents heat stress prevention classes to facilities personnel each June, followed by lightning safety in July and West Nile disease prevention training every August.

TMC is prepared for electrical outages during the monsoon storms with very extensive backup generator equipment for patient safety, Barnes noted, adding the hospital also has a fully equipped disaster command center and participates in local and statewide exercises every year.

“As you can imagine we are very dependent on accurate weather forecasts and prepare on a regular basis for all weather threats and situations,” Barnes said, adding he was pleased with the recognition.

Any organization can  become a Weather Ready Nation Ambassador. Schools, government agencies, private businesses, civic organizations, home owner associations and others can apply online at https://www.weather.gov/wrn/amb-tou

 

‘Popcorn Kid’ retiring after singlehandedly raising $51k for kids through sales

DOROTHYLongtime employee, Dorothy “Popcorn Kid” Lietha, who is retiring after 43 years, made a difference kernel by kernel.

Lietha, who has worked a variety of jobs but most recently was part of the Wellness department’s efforts in the employee gym, is probably best known for her commitment to the children of Southern Arizona.

Since the early days of TMC’s relationship with Children’s Miracle Network, Lietha has sold popcorn — first for 25 cents a bag, and now 50 cents. Those quarters have added up. The TMC Foundation estimates that she has raised more than $51,000 to benefit area children.

“Dorothy embodies the spirit of this organization because of her generosity and her deep love of this community,” said Michael Duran, vice president and chief development officer. “We can each make a profound difference just by leveraging our individual strengths and passions – and for that, Dorothy is an inspiration.”

If you’d like to honor Dorothy and her commitment to children, consider making an online gift in her name for Children’s Services via the TMC Foundation.

Lucille Luna: Grateful and giving despite health crises

Lucille Luna 4A stroke. Vision loss. A serious ulcer. Congenital arthritis. Knee and hip replacements. The past few years have not been a bed of roses for Lucille Luna. But, the series of wearing health challenges have only invigorated the exuberant spirit of the 76-year-old, who makes time to show her appreciation for the medical professionals who helped her.

“I’ll always be thankful for the people at TMC,” Luna said. “I wouldn’t trade them for the world.”

Several times throughout the year, you’ll find Luna making her way across the TMC campus to personally thank doctors, nurses and the entire staff.

“When I had my surgeries here there wasn’t a single person without a smile,” she explained. “They helped me with everything I needed – even in the middle of the night.”

Luna has certainly experienced her share of health problems. Among many challenges, BDP39412_Style004_Sunlightshe’s survived a stroke and a very serious lower-abdomen ulcer. “Dr. Kisso said my ulcer was the size of a football.”

Even as she shared her difficulties, a grin never left her face and a hearty laugh was never far off. The arthritis that causes her constant pain has not dimmed her spirit; not in the least.

“I’m alive!” she said. “I want to be involved – I help my family almost every day, no matter what they need.”

A statement confirmed by her 13-year-old granddaughter Karah. “She helps with everything – cooking, cleaning, everything…and she’s really nice to my friends.”

While her hip and knee replacements were successes, the arthritis hinders Luna’s mobility, and she walks with the assistance of a cane. This obstacle, however, doesn’t interfere with her constant movement or cheerful outlook.

Tom Bergeron“If someone does a good deed for me, I want to do a good deed for them, and TMC did so much for me,” Luna said.

When asked what she valued most at TMC, the quality of care, convenience, compassion – Luna replied, “Compassion? They go beyond that! I can’t even think of a word powerful enough to describe how much they care.”

“The medical staff at TMC offer a most sincere thank you to Lucille Luna,” said Julia Strange, vice president or TMC Community Benefit. “We appreciate her grateful and giving attitude that inspires all around her.”

TMC celebrates pets in three September events

Pets can be part of a healthy lifestyle, from lowering blood pressure to reducing stress and encouraging owners to move more.

With the last week of September National Dog Week, TMC is going to the dogs (and cats) in three separate pet-friendly events at The Core at La Encantada.

  • Think your pup has what it takes to be a therapy dog to help cheer up patients, visitors and staff in the hospital? Come find out how to join TMC’s Pet Therapy team and – with the help of Pet Partners of Southern Arizona – learn the ins and outs of getting certified on Saturday, Sept. 2 at 10 a.m. Click here to register.
  • If you have a pet, you’ve probably at some point contemplated whether pet food, pet toys and cleaning products are OK for the environment. Come learn about environmentally friendly pet care with Mrs. Green’s World on Sunday, Sept. 24 at 2 p.m. Click here to register.
  • Pima Animal Care Center has thousands of pets each year (like PACC alumni Chester shown here) looking for a new home – and new exercise buddies. Join Care Center staff in learning more about how to exercise safely with your pet on Wednesday, Sept. 27 at 5:30 p.m. Click here to register.

Pets are welcome at these three events. Find out more by visiting The Core at La Encantada.

Eclipse watchers: Follow these tips to protect your eyes

EclipseGlassesIf you’re planning to watch the solar eclipse on Monday, Aug. 21, do it safely.

Don’t look directly into the sun without eye protection – and sunglasses alone won’t do it. Those are some of the safety tips you’ll see in a short video from @MayoClinic to protect your eyes.

As a member of the Mayo Clinic Care Network, Tucson Medical Center works directly with Mayo Clinic, which again was named the top hospital in the country by U.S. News & World Reports.

The foundation of our relationship with Mayo Clinic is a shared commitment to improving the delivery of health care through high-quality, data-driven, evidence-based medical care. Our care network membership allows TMC access to the knowledge and expertise of Mayo Clinic to enhance the care we provide locally and save our patients unnecessary travel.

Tucson will see the eclipse as a partial solar eclipse – about 60 percent. It will start after 9 a.m. and end about noon. The Flandrau Science Center & Planetarium reports there will not be another total solar eclipse visible from the continental United States until 2024 – so happy watching, but take precautions!

Make summer snacks fun, tasty and healthy

Summer snack 3Summertime brings vacations, warm weather and great food. The TMC and TMCOne Clinical Dietician Kallie Siderewicz offers some tips to make summer food fun, tasty and healthy.

Healthy doesn’t mean boring

Try a peanut butter and low-fat Greek yogurt dip for fruit. Ranch seasoning also gives Greek yogurt the yum factor for dipping veggies.

Other fun dishes include fruit kabobs, apples slices topped with peanut butter, coconut, and chocolate chips. A summertime favorite is fruit coated with frozen yogurt.

Cool off by infusing water or tea with lemon, lime, berries, oranges, mint, or rosemary.

Summer snackFor an adult beverage, try light beer, a glass of red wine or liquor mixed with water or diet soda.

High-calorie pitfalls

Before hot summer days have you reaching for a frozen coffee drink – remember that a small serving can have over 500 calories. Sodas and most sports drinks offer hard-to-burn calories with no nutrition.

For adults, mixed drinks usually combine alcohol and sugar, piling calories on top of calories.

Fruit salads made with fruit canned in heavy syrup can have as many calories as pie and cake, especially if you add marshmallows and whipped cream.

Don’t forget water

Water is the absolute best thing you can give your body. It hydrates, helps cleanse and cool. Another good reason to drink water – it can aid in weight loss.

Kallie Siderewicz.jpg

 

 

Kallie Siderewicz is a clinical dietician at the TMCOne Rincon location. She also provides nutrition services at Tucson Medical Center.

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.

Voting begins next week in the City of Tucson’s primary election

 Candidate Forum

A big thank you is in order to the four candidates running for a seat in the Ward 3 City Council race, who appeared at a candidate forum Tuesday night at Tucson Medical Center, sponsored by the Arizona Daily Star and the Tucson Hispanic Chamber of Commerce.

“The foundation for democracy is an engaged and educated electorate,” said Julia Strange, vice president of community benefit for TMC. “We appreciate everyone who came out to learn more about the candidates – and importantly, we thank each of the candidates for stepping up and running for office.”

The winner among the three candidates vying for the Ward 3 Democratic primary – Thomas Tronsdal, Paul Durham and Felicia Chew – will face Gary Watson, an independent, in the general election. The winner will assume the seat currently held by City Councilwoman Karin Uhlich, who is retiring from the Council.

In addition to Ward 3, the Green Party has a contested primary race in Ward 6.

Ballots will be mailed Aug. 9 to registered voters.

 

TMC employee turns hardship into inspiration

Donatian Mahanga TMC 2At the age of 10, Donatian Mahanga became a refugee in the Congo, introduced to the overwhelming challenges of intense poverty, starvation, disease and political strife.

There was a constant shortage of food and medicine. “We buried people every day because of starvation,” he said. Of his 32 aunts, only three survived.

That incredible story of survival fueled a positive mindset and a deep passion to help others.

“People ask me why I am always smiling,” said Mahanga, who works in environmental services at Tucson Medical Center. “It is one of the ways I heal my heart.”

United Way Champions 2017 Donatian MahangaMahanga, who recently served as a champion in TMC’s United Way campaign, also finds healing in giving to others after being affected by more than 20 years of moving between refugee camps in the Congo and Uganda.

War and deprived living conditions claimed six of his 12 siblings. The harrowing experiences were made worse when he was abandoned by his parents at age 13, leaving he and his remaining siblings to fend for food and clothes.

Mahanga was surrounded by a terrible situation that he felt was consuming a generation of young Africans. He wanted to improve living conditions – but not just for him, for his community.

“So many people were suffering at zero. There was no hope at all – I wanted to create a change,” he said. Mahanga took part in organizing a group of young men called COBURWAS International Youth Organization to Transform Africa (CIYOTA). What is COBURWAS? The founders took letters from the names of the countries that refugees traveled from: Congo, Burundi, Rwanda and Sudan.

Donatian Mahanga CIYOTA 3Their first step was to raise funds and learn craftsmanship. Mahanga, himself, helped build a school in the refugee camp. “Without education, nothing will do!”

He brought the diverse group of refugees together, and taught himself eight languages in the process. “If you want to help someone, speaking in their language will put them at ease.” He helped many express their grief through performance and song, a method he still uses to engage refugee communities in Tucson.

Mahanga and his friends even reached out to sources in the United States to provide medicine and mosquito nets to treat and stop Malaria, which claims so many lives in the refugee area.

CIYOTA also advocated for women’s rights and encouraged young women to obtain an education, a rare pursuit for women in refugee settlements.

Donatian Mahanga CIYOTA 2After 12 years in operation, CIYOTA has grown into an international, volunteer-based non-profit, that is now organized in the U.S.

Mahanga is glad to see the school he built become a large and prosperous education center. “My number one goal is always to help people,” he said.

In August of 2016, Mahanga came to America with his wife and five children. A temporary staffing agency helped him get a job with TMC and his position soon became permanent.

“TMC is the right place for me –the workers treat each other and the patients with such compassion,” Mahanga explained. “They really show humanity – always working to help others.”

A friend from Uganda reached out to Mahanga to say good bye because he could not afford a life-saving surgery. He was touched when his coworkers raised the needed funds.

TMC monument signHe has already begun helping others, donating his time to help other refugees find work and acclimate to life in the United States. “Change is a part of life, but everyone should feel proud of who they are.”

“Donatian’s love for humanity is visible from the moment you meet him,” said Beth Dorsey, the director of food, nutrition and environmental services at TMC. “His compassion for others truly shows in all he does at TMC and for the community.”

Mahanga is proud to work at TMC and proud of the difference he’s making in the community. Most of all, he enjoys spending time with his wife and children, ages 2 through 10. “The secret to happiness is being content with what you have.”

 

 

Artwork at TMC Rincon Health Campus reflects Vail’s community connection and spirit

Vail Preservation SocietyVail – the town between the tracks – is a vibrant community resting in the foothills of the Rincon mountains on Tucson’s eastside.

Along with its leading school system , picturesque landscapes and family-oriented neighborhoods, another of Vail’s greatest attributes is the community’s strong connection to the rich, cultural heritage of the area.

The community values its history, preserving locations like the Old Vail Post Office (built in 1908) and founder’s chronicles like those of the Estrada, Escalante, Leon and Monthan families. You’ll recognize the name Monthan from Tucson’s Air Force Base. Davis-Monthan gets half its name from early Vail resident Oscar Monthan.

Vail Preservation Society 3“Residents, especially the young ones, want to know who came before them,” explained J.J. Lamb, executive director of the Vail Preservation Society. “Our past shows us there is something unique about Vail that it is worth preserving.”

Tucson Medical Center recently opened the TMC Rincon Health Campus at Houghton and Drexel. In the final stages of construction, the community-owned hospital worked with the Vail Preservation society to include artwork and photography that would reflect the Vail community’s connection to their history and to the land itself.

“These photographs give us a sense of place and community continuity,” said Lamb. “We Vail Preservation Society 2were glad to work with TMC and establish these connections to our community through public art.”

The art and photos have an ancillary but equally important effect for the Vail residents visiting the Rincon Health Campus.

“It’s the right fit,” said Lauren Rabb, curator of the TMC Healing Art Program. “Art can be Vail Preservation Society 4powerful medicine, and we took it a step further at Rincon– including comforting and therapeutic images of local landscapes, history and people.”

Local photographer Gregory Cranwell shares thoughts on his photo of Jesus Arvizu that is displayed at Rincon. “Photographs like this show the backbone of our area,” Cranwell said. “This is a rancher doing real ranching. It’s not for show – he’s going about his daily work to provide for his family.”

Vail Preservation Society 7For Cranwell, the photos provide both beauty and truth. “You can’t separate the beauty of our landscapes from the beauty of our culture – all we have is our roots and I hope people will feel this place is special.”

Bill Steen is a Southern Arizona photographer who took several of the landscape photos provided. “Sometimes they just come together and the same conditions will never happen again in the exact way,” he said. “Photos can make people more aware of where they live – and enrich the possibility of being connected to it.”

Vail Preservation Society 6At Rincon, you’ll find many stopping to appreciate Bill’s photos of clouds passing over the Mustang Mountains and of the moon rising above the Huachuca foothills. “They are also designed to soothe – helping people stop and escape the moment.”

Vail Preservation Society 5TMC’s Healing Art Program accepts donations of gallery-quality paintings, graphics, photography and sculptures. The program considers all styles of art that would further our mission to enhance patient care through the creation and maintenance of a healing environment.

 

Comprehensive Weight-Loss Program now available at TMC

TMC Weight Loss Program 3Super foods – juice cleansing – metabolism kick starters – core workouts. Weight-loss is very challenging and the dizzying number of diets, fads and exercises can make it even harder. Tucson Medical Center’s Comprehensive Weight-Loss Program offers safe and effective plans that are personalized to meet each patient’s needs.

These days, busy lifestyles are common– stretching schedules for career, family, activities and so much more. With only so many hours in a day, it’s hard to make time for health and easy to put on pounds fast. More than 70 percent of American adults are overweight and we understand that everyone faces unique challenges to achieving a weight loss goal.

TMC Wellness Director Mary Atkinson explains how the TMC Weight-Loss Program is different. “We look at the whole person,” she said. “Registered dietitians and certified exercise-professionals will work with you to create a personalized plan you can live with, so you can lose weight and keep it off.”

Weight-Loss Counseling Program The 12-week program includes three, one-hour initial appointments and eight follow-ups that last about 30 minutes. Periodic assessments help determine what is working best and allow you and your team to make adjustments to keep

  • Nutrition, fitness and general wellness assessments
  • Reliable advice that you can use
  • Tracking of weight and estimated body composition
  • Development of personalized nutrition and fitness plans
  • Strategies to promote long-term weight-loss success

Weight-Loss Surgery from the TMC Bariatric Center

The TMC Bariatric Center, a comprehensive center accredited by the Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery Accreditation and Quality Improvement Program, guides you every step of the way on your weight-loss journey:

  • Pre-surgery counseling and evaluations
  • Post-op care that includes nutritional counseling
  • Psychological support
  • Instruction on incorporating exercises into your lifestyle
  • Discussion groups – build relationships with others who have had bariatric surgery at TMC
  • Some services may be covered by insurance.

TMC Weight Loss Program 4Weight Management Support Group

No matter what method you have used to lose weight, sticking to your new good habits and keeping the weight off can be a challenge. Don’t try to tackle it alone. Join our monthly support group, led by a certified health coach, to learn new tips and stay motivated.

Program Pricing

  • Flat fee for the entire program: $400
  • Weekly rate: $60 for one-hour sessions, $30 for 30-minute sessions (total of $480 for entire program)
  • Weight management support group = $5 per meeting (meets monthly at The Core at La Encantada)

For more details, please contact TMC Wellness, (520) 324-4163 or wellness@tmcaz.com.

Temps are rising and the pool is beckoning – do you know your water safety?

Pool Safety 3Is it hot enough yet? With Tucson temperatures exceeding 115 degrees for three straight days, many families will be heading for the pool this weekend.

It’s no surprise why swimming is a summer favorite. Parents get a chance to cool-off, kids max out on fun and families make memories.

With the summertime exuberance of visiting, splashing and playing, it can be easy for all to forget important safety rules. This is serious because Arizona has the second highest number of child drownings in the United States.

Child drowning is tragic but preventable. Safe Kids Pima County Coordinator Jessica Mitchell works with community partners to provide helpful tips and education to prevent childhood drowning. She provided us important water safety standards every
parent should know.

It’s as easy as ABC

A = Adult supervision B = Barriers around pools, spas and hot tubs C = Coast Guard approved life vest and life-saving CPR classes

My kids love playing in the pool – what are the things to watch out for?

  • Active supervision is a must. Provide active supervision without any distractions – even if other adults are present and many kids are in the pool. They call drowning the “silent killer” because a drowning child can’t call for help.
  • Infants and toddlers should stay within an arm’s reach of an adult.
  • Don’t rely on swimming aids such as water wings and pool noodles. They are fun, but may not prevent drowning.
  • When finished, remove all toys from the pool. This can tempt children to go for the toys later, increasing the risk of them falling in and drowning.
  • Barriers should be in place to keep children from entering the pool on their own. Alarms on doors and pool fences with self-closing gates also helps to keep kids safe.
  • Always keep a phone nearby so that you can call 911 in the case of an emergency.
  • Empty kiddie pools and turn them upside down when finished. Tragedies have happened in just a few inches of water.

Pool Safety 2
What swimming rules should I set for my children?

  • Only swim if an adult is a present.
  • Do not dive in shallow areas of the pool (or the entire pool if it is not deep enough for diving).
  • Don’t push or jump on others.
  • Don’t go swimming during thunder/lightning storms.

My kids have already taken swimming lessons, so I probably don’t need to watch them as much, right?

While we encourage swimming lessons, children should not be swimming alone even if they are good swimmers. It takes multiple lessons before a child learns how to swim effectively and even then, there should still be active supervision by an adult.

How do I rescue a child I think might be drowning?

  • Take the child out of the water
  • If you are alone, call 911 and begin CPR. Starting CPR immediately is the most important thing you can do to prevent a child from dying.
  • If you are not alone, begin CPR and ask someone to call 911.
  • Check for breathing and responsiveness. Place your ear near the child’s mouth and nose to see if you feel air on your cheek? Determine if the child’s chest is moving and call the child’s name to see if he or she responds.

Should I be CPR certified?

Anyone who routinely supervises children around water should get CPR certified. The certification courses are provided by many community organizations, including the American Red Cross.

It sounds like there is a lot to prepare for – can the water still be safe and fun for my family?

Absolutely! Swimming can be great family fun. Make sure you take the necessary precautions, always supervise swimming children and that someone in the family has taken CPR classes.

Visit our website for more safety tips and information.

 

 

Wound Care Awareness Week – celebrating treatments that are changing lives

Tucson Medical Center is honoring Wound Care Awareness Week by celebrating the treatments and therapies that are improving the quality of life for patients.

WoundCare 1Healing can be taken for granted – and many are unaware that a wound, sore or infection can be a significant challenge for seniors, diabetics and individuals experiencing illnesses that impede healing.

Several years ago, Carolyn Herman began noticing small red bumps that looked like insect bites – but each bump grew into a painful sore that would not heal.

As the sores grew in number and severity, Herman sought help from dermatologists who diagnosed her with Pyoderma Gangrenosum, a rare autoimmune disease whose cause is unknown. It began taking over her life, until she found the TMC Wound Care Center and hyperbaric oxygen therapy.

“It’s so frustrating because treating it is so hard,” Herman said. “Any small cut or skin rupture can turn into a very painful lesion.”

Wound Center Lavor“I just felt like things were always going to get worse,” Herman explained. “I saw specialists and wound centers, but it wasn’t getting better. I had tens of lesions on my body.”

In early 2016, Herman’s dermatologist referred her to the TMC Wound Clinic. “Everyone from the desk clerk to the nurses did a wonderful job of making me feel comfortable and at ease.”

Herman saw Dr. Michael A. Lavor, the medical director at the TMC Wound Clinic. Lavor performed surgery to address infections and prescribed ongoing hyperbaric oxygen (HBO) therapy.

“With HBO, the patient enters a hyperbaric oxygen therapy chamber that looks like a wide hospital gurney with a large, clear acrylic cover – like a tube,” said Heather Jankowski, the director of outpatient services at the TMC Wound Care Center.

Woundcare4“The chamber is filled with 100 percent oxygen, and the air pressure in the chamber is raised– which allows the lungs to safely absorb greater amounts of oxygen,” Jankowski continued. “HBO strengthens oxygen absorption, helping tissue heal more quickly and completely by stimulating growth factors and inhibiting toxins.”

Herman engaged more than 100 treatments, every day for two hours. HBO is not painful and many patients sleep through it. Still, engaging so many treatments can take its toll. “The staff was so good to me, they were always compassionate and thoughtful – it made 117 treatments doable.”

The HBO provided great relief and sped healing. “I’m doing wonderful now – my infections are gone and I’m managing my condition much more easily,” Herman said enthusiastically.

The TMC Wound Care Center has been serving Southern Arizona for five years and treats a wide variety of patients with healing challenges such as diabetic foot ulcers, venous stasis ulcers, failed flaps, and ORN of the jaw.

For further information about the TMC Wound Care Center, please visit the webpage or call (520) 324-4220. Call (520) 324-2075 for scheduling.

 

Osteoporosis: “The most important factor is prevention”

May is Women’s Health Month, a great time to celebrate and promote stronger health and a perfect time to discuss the latest information about preventing and treating health challenges like osteoporosis.

More than 44 million American women experience the debilitating effects of the bone disease, and many women fear aching joints and brittle bones are an inevitable part of aging. It is important to know the risks, and engage opportunities to maintain optimum bone-health.

Dr. Lawrence R. Housman is an orthopaedic surgeon who specializes in musculoskeletal disease at Tucson Orthopaedic Institute. He sat down with us to discuss the best ways to prevent and treat osteoporosis.

OsteoporosisWhy are women at greater risk for osteoporosis?  

Women start with a lower bone density than men. They also lose bone mass more quickly as they age. Between ages 20-80, women will lose about 1/3 of her bone density compared to men who lose only 1/4 of their bone density in that time frame. Estrogen levels also affect bone density, and women lose bone mass more quickly in the years immediately following menopause than at any other time of their lives.

What can accentuate this risk?

Alcohol in moderation is not a risk factor, however more than four drinks per day results in a twice the risk of hip fracture. Steroids can also increase this risk. Long term use of steroids will double the risk of fracture in women.

It should be noted that proton pump inhibitors (e.g. Nexium/Protonix used for stomach disorders such as acid reflux) decrease the absorption of calcium from the stomach.

While increasing fiber, phylates (beans, wheat bran), oxalates (spinach, beet greens, rhubarb) and phosphorus (colas) can provide other health benefits they can also interfere with calcium metabolism.

What are the most effective means of preventing osteoporosis?

Regular exercise is one of the most effective means of preventing osteoporosis. Thirty minutes per day – walking is excellent, and Tai Chi reportedly decreases falls by 47 percent and hip fracture by 25 percent.

Nutrition is another import part of maintaining healthy bones. Fruits and vegetables are important. Women ages 19-50 should take in 1000 mg of calcium daily and women older than 50 should get 1200 mg per day.

Vitamin D is another vital nutrient the body needs to prevent osteoporosis. An individual can get their vitamin D through measured exposure to sunlight or through supplements. A diet with dairy, protein or calcium fortified foods (e.g. orange juice), fish (salmon/sardines) and yogurt (6 ounces has 300 mg of calcium) will go a long way in getting vitamin d to the bones.

What are the warning signs of the disease – and when is it time to see a doctor?

There are usually no warning signs before a fracture occurs; therefore, the most important factor is prevention.

A primary care provider (PCP) is the best person to monitor bone health. Most physicians recommend a DEXA (bone density test) after the age of 50.

The DEXA scan is the bone density test done most frequently and is predictive of fracture risk. The scan will also show whether you have normal bone density, osteopenia (bone is becoming weaker) or osteoporosis (bone is at high risk for fracture).

If a fracture occurs, then an orthopaedist would enter the picture to advise on treatment concerning the spine or extremity fracture.

If diagnosed with osteopenia or osteoporosis – what’s next?

With treatment patients can live normal, active and happy lives.

There are many types of medications that are now available – which work to reverse and then rebuild the bone loss. With treatment, the risk of a vertebral fracture drops from between 30-70 percent and the risk of a hip fracture drops by up to 40 percent.

Housman OsteoporosisDr. Housman is an orthopaedic surgeon who practices at the Tucson Orthopaedic Institute. He earned a medical degree from the University of Alberta in Edmonton, Canada and completed an orthopaedic surgery residency at the Montreal General Hospital and McGill University. Dr. Housman is fellowship trained in several orthopaedic pursuits and is a past chief of staff at Tucson Medical Center. He has also served as president of the Western Orthopaedic Association and Arizona Orthopaedic Society.

 

 

During National Donate Life Month, organ donation impacted TMC family

National Donate Life 4.jpgThe Spohn family had a special reason to celebrate this year’s National Donate Life Month – a kidney donation that has made a meaningful difference in their lives, providing great relief and renewed freedom.

When it comes to doing things together, the Spohns are a close-knit family who share every triumph and every challenge. Ed Spohn credits the support of his wife, Michelle and son, Phillip for helping him brave the extraordinary challenges of polycystic kidney disease (PKD).

The Spohns are also a part of the Tucson Medical Center family – Michelle has been a member of the TMC nursing-staff for more than 20 years, and Philip will soon be moving from transportation into patient safety.

Now in his late 50s, Ed has been coping with the disease since age 17. “They told me I’d probably have to go on dialysis in my 50s.” Unfortunately the genetic disease took grip far sooner, and dangerously enlarged Ed’s kidneys before he turned 40. In 1997, Ed received a kidney from his wife, Michelle.

Ed’s life changed and he could resume most activities. After the transplant, Ed says he felt “wonderful.” Gone was the chronic pain in his back, the swelling in his feet, the nausea, and the intense headaches and shortness of breath. Ed’s family experienced the challenges with him – and Michelle knows she did the right thing.

National Donate Life“It’s so gratifying to do something like this,” said Michelle. “It is so hard to see a loved one suffer and It made all the difference. I’d do it again if I had another to give.”

Michelle said she has not experienced any medical issues as a result of her donation, and she encourages others to donate. “I tell people to get tested for a tissue-match if they have a family member or loved one with kidney failure – it will change everything for them.”

Receiving a kidney transplant requires constant care and monitoring. While the rewards change lives, there is a risk of rejection and the recipient will need to take anti-rejection medications that have additional risks and side effects.

Unfortunately, transplant kidneys do not last as long as our own organs. Ed’s periodic blood tests revealed the transplant kidney was failing in 2013. He soon began dialysis – a process in which a machine called a hemodialyzer performs the function of the kidneys. The process is life-saving, but strenuous – often causing anemia, fluid overload, constant itching, trouble sleeping, and other taxing symptoms.

Ed received dialysis treatment three times a week, for several hours at a time. The process also involves frequent testing. “You have to adhere to a strict diet, and get fluids and blood checked all the time,” Ed said. “It was never easy, but we did what we had to do.”

Dialysis also requires frequent sessions, restricting any travel. “I missed a lot of things,” Ed stated. “I couldn’t go to so many family gatherings, like my niece’s wedding – I even missed my mother’s special birthday party when she turned 80.”

National Donate Life 3.jpgAfter a year, the Spohns also provided hemodialysis for ED at home – a very difficult task that was understandably stressful and overwhelming for the family. “We experienced a roller coaster of emotions,” Michelle said. “Ed was on the donation list and we answered every phone call with such hope.”

Those hopes came to fruition last week, when the Spohn family received the call they had been waiting for. The transplant was a success – and the Spohns are overjoyed to be sharing a triumph. Michelle attended a ceremonial flag-raising on the TMC campus last week to bring awareness to the need for organ donation.

“I’m so thankful,” Ed said, with a grateful smile. Transplant recipients can write an appreciative letter to the family of the deceased donor through the Donor Network of Arizona. Ed said he wants to take it a step further. “I really hope I get to meet them, so I can tell them how much it helps our family – I’m forever grateful.”

What’s next for the Spohns? The family will spend the next few months ensuring Ed’s body accepts the new kidney – after that, they hope to travel and celebrate Ed’s restored health. “I’m already feeling so much better!”

For further information about organ donation, visit the website for the Donor Network of Arizona.

National Donate Life 5

 

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.

Learn more about the advances in hip and knee treatment with Dr. Dalal

Join Dr. Ali H. Dalal from the Tucson Orthopaedic Institute for a free interactive discussion highlighting current advancements in treating joint pain – from non-surgical treatment options to the latest Mako Robotic-Arm Assisted technology.

El DoradoFaster recovery and increased mobility are more accessible than ever before!

If you or a loved one is suffering from joint aches and pains and thinking about seeing a specialist – this discussion is for you.

The presentation and discussion will be held at 1400 N. Wilmot (El Dorado plaza) on April 12 at 5:30 p.m.

Attendance is free, but you must register by calling (520) 324-1960 or you can register online at TMC for Seniors. See you there!

 

Dalal3Dr. Dalal is a fellowship-trained hip and knee replacement surgeon at Tucson Orthopaedic Institute. He graduated Summa Cum Laude from UCLA with a Bachelors of Science in Molecular Cell and Developmental Biology.  He received his M.D. from the University of California San Diego and completed his residency in orthopaedic surgery at the University of Illinois Chicago.  He completed a fellowship in hip and knee replacement at the Florida Orthopaedic Institute.

 

 

TMC supporting C-PATH initiative to end TB on 35th annual World Tuberculosis Day

On March 24, the world will recognize the 35th annual observance of World Tuberculosis (TB) Day.

For most of us, the word “tuberculosis” is often forgotten, since the number of cases has dropped thanks to public health and surveillance efforts in the developed world, making it easy to forget that tuberculosis is still one of the leading causes of death worldwide.

Critical Path InstituteThe Critical Path to TB Drug Regimens (CPTR) – a consortium within the larger Tucson-based nonprofit the Critical Path Institute (C-Path) – is waging the global fight against tuberculosis through collaboration with TB research organizations, academia, and the pharmaceutical industry.

But C-Path is not the first Arizona-based organization to be at the forefront of TB diagnosis and treatment. Nearly a century ago, Tucson Medical Center established roots in Tucson as a TB treatment facility.

At the turn of the 20th century, cramped and heavily populated cities along the Eastern seaboard served as an ideal environment for the highly infectious tuberculosis. Though it would be years until the first successful antibiotic was developed, physicians of the time noted the benefits of dry, fresh air and a warm, sunny climate.

By the 1920s, the ideal weather and rural areas made Southern Arizona the “premier destination” for tuberculosis patients.

TMC TB DayOne such destination for TB patients was the internationally known Desert Sanatorium in Tucson. The historic “Desert San” provided an ideal environment for those suffering from tuberculosis.

During World War II, the Desert Sanatorium found itself stripped of critical staff and resources, eventually closing its doors in 1943. They wouldn’t remain closed for long, however. The Tucson community rallied to raise the necessary funds to convert the local landmark into a brand-new hospital — Tucson Medical Center.

“This site and these efforts would soon become Tucson Medical Center,” said Mimi Warwick Coomler, vice president and chief nursing officer of Tucson Medical Center Some of the original buildings remain in service today, as a testament to the importance and impact of a community’s strength and commitment to eradicating a disease that continues to this day.”

Today, TMC stands tall upon its deep roots – providing first-rate medical care to community members for more than 70 years. TMC has not forgotten its origins as a leading name in tuberculosis therapy so many years ago – and values C-PATH’s strong efforts to stop the spread of TB throughout the world.

World TB DayAlthough TB is far from the disease it once was, reports within the last 10 years have shown some bacteria to be resistant to anti-TB drugs.

Organizations such as C-Path are continuing the work that was started so long ago by the Tucson Medical Center – leading the way in global TB diagnostics and drug development. C-Path’s CPTR initiative is working with a global coalition of leading international pharmaceutical companies, public health experts, and regulatory authorities to bring the best TB care to those who need it most.

On March 24, we reflect on the lessons of the past successes achieved through strong partnership and collaborations. TMC strongly supports C-Path’s CPTR initiative – a meaningful step toward a global victory over tuberculosis.

 

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.

AZPM’s ‘Feeding our Future’ features TMC director of Food Services

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Food & Nutrition Services Director Beth Dorsey buys organic produce from local farms for TMC.

Beth Dorsey, TMC’s director of Food & Nutrition Services, is featured in Farmers and Market, the final segment of the nine-part Arizona Public Media series, Feeding Our Future.

The hospital buys about 300 pounds of fresh produce a month through the Community Food Bank of Southern Arizona’s Farm-to-Institution food brokerage business. The partnership helps ensure a market for local farmers and fresh organic produce for TMC’s staff, patients and visitors.

Produced by Laura Markowitz, the radio series features stories of the innovative work being done to feed families, promote health and food security, prepare for climate change, and create pathways out of poverty. The series was made possible with support from the Zuckerman Family Foundation.

Episode 1 aired Sept. 16, 2016, and the final episode airs today and tomorrow, on NPR 89.1/FM. Tune in to Arizona Spotlight, or visit  https://radio.azpm.org/kuaz.azspotlight/ to hear all the episodes.

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.

It’s LoveLights time!

lovelightsThe TMC Auxiliary hosts the annual lighting of the LoveLights tree on Thursday, Nov. 10, 5-6:30 p.m. next to the Labyrinth at Peppi’s House, 2715 N. Wyatt Dr.

This cherished tradition benefits TMC Hospice through the sale of lights to commemorate our veterans, honor someone special and memorialize lost loved ones.

“Our patients’ families love to reconnect with us and it’s a wonderful way to kick off the holiday season,” said Krista Durocher, TMC Hospice volunteer coordinator.

The event includes food, door prizes and music. Lights are $5 each or three for $10 and are available at the event as well as online by clicking 2016 LoveLights.

Donations are accepted through the remainder of 2016.

TMC thanks UnitedHealthcare, presenting sponsor of 2016 Girls on the Run 5K

gotrSince 2010, hundreds of girls across Tucson in third through eighth grade have been inspired by Girls on the Run, a unique youth-development program that teaches life skills and builds confidence.

Culminating in a 5K run, to be held on Saturday, Oct. 29, the goal of the program is to unleash a sense of accomplishment while establishing a lifetime appreciation of health and fitness.

Tucson Medical Center is proud to welcome UnitedHealthcare as the presenting sponsor of the event, which will draw more than 200 girls from 17 elementary and middle schools to the downtown Tucson course.

“These are key years for girls as they begin to be more concerned about peer opinions and perceived social expectations about appearance,” said Julia Strange, TMC vice president of community benefit. “UnitedHealthcare’s focus on health and wellness makes it an ideal partner in helping us empower girls to develop healthy habits and foster pride in their accomplishments.”

“UnitedHealthcare is grateful for the opportunity to be the presenting sponsor of this year’s Girls on the Run and 5K race, which will help young girls live healthier lives and learn how to become strong, independent and confident women,” said David Allazetta of UnitedHealthcare.

In addition to having a new presenting sponsor, the race also has a new location. Girls on the Run will be included in the 2016 TMC Get Moving Tucson weekend, taking place in downtown Tucson and starting on Church Street immediately north of Congress.

The day will kick off at 7:30 a.m. with the Tucson Lifestyle 5K Run/Walk for all ages, followed by the Girls on the Run 5K at 8:30 a.m. and the 9:30 a.m. Cox Charities Fit Kids One Mile for children under 12.

The following day, the TMC A-Mountain Half-Marathon – the final event of the 2016 Gabe Zimmerman Triple Crown – begins at 7 a.m.

“This new format lets girls experience a much broader wellness event in which people are there to support each other and build a stronger Tucson,” said Mary Atkinson, TMC’s director of wellness.

“There’s really nothing like the buzz of race day, and I’m thrilled the community will be there to cheer for these girls as they pursue their goals.”

Proceeds from the TMC Get Moving Tucson Weekend will fund local charities, including Cox Charities, Team Hoyt Arizona, Reid Park Zoo, Child and Family Resources, and the Southern Arizona Roadrunners.

TMC receives 4-star hospital rating from CMS

tmc-for-children-patient-careTucson Medical Center is the only hospital in Tucson to receive a four-star rating in the U.S. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services Overall Hospital Quality Star Ratings released on Wednesday.

The ratings are a composite metric of one to five stars, with five being the best. They intend to convey the overall quality of nearly 4,000 hospitals in the U.S and are posted to the CMS’ Hospital Compare site.

“We are very encouraged by the rating. It reflects the focus and hard work of the nursing and medical staff at the hospital to consistently provide high-quality care,” said TMC Chief Medical Officer Rick Anderson, M.D. “Though to be sure, this work is never done. There is always room for improvement, and we will continue to standardize our processes, reduce waste in the system and continue delivering high-quality care that TMC has been known for these 70-plus years.”

The new Overall Hospital Quality Star Rating takes 64 existing quality measures already reported on the Hospital Compare website and summarizes them into a unified rating of one to five stars, with five being the best.

The rating includes quality measures for routine care that the average individual receives, such as care received when being treated for heart attacks and pneumonia, to quality measures that focus on hospital-acquired infections, such as catheter-associated urinary tract infections.

“These easy-to-understand star ratings are available online and empower people to compare and choose across various types of facilities from nursing homes to home health agencies,” according to Dr. Kate Goodrich, director of the Center for Clinical Standards and Quality at CMS, in a blog post announcing the star ratings’ release.

Just 102 institutions out of 4,599 hospitals, or 2.2 percent, earned five stars. Of the rest of the hospitals, 20.3 percent garnered four stars, 38.5 percent received three, 15.7 percent earned two stars and 2.9 percent received a single star.

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 named 2016 ‘Most Wired’ — using technology for a better patient experience

MW_Winner2016_ColorEPS.epsCHICAGO, July 6, 2016—Technology is improving the efficiency of care delivery and creating a new dynamic in patient interactions, according to results of the 18th Annual Health Care’s Most Wired® survey, released today by the American Hospital Association’s Health Forum.

According to the survey, Most Wired hospitals are using telehealth to fill gaps in care; provide services 24 hours a day, 7 days a week; and expand access to medical specialists. This year’s results show:

  • The top three telehealth services offered in hospitals are consultations and office visits, stroke care, and psychiatric examinations and psychotherapy.
  • Stroke care is the most rapid growth area for telehealth services up 38 percent from 2015, as evidence-based studies emphasize the time urgency of stroke care.
  • More than 25 percent of hospitals use internet-enabled monitoring devices for chronic disease management of congestive heart failure, diabetes and heart disease.

“Today’s patients are technically savvy and are increasingly expecting their health care services to be provided where, when and how they want it,” said Frank Marini, vice president of Information Services at Tucson Medical Center. “TMC is stepping up to meet that challenge by investing in telehealth, e-visits and other mobile means of engaging our patients. Improving convenience and access to care will lead to improved patient outcomes.”

In redefining the way that they provide care in their communities, Most Wired hospitals are using technology to build patient engagement with the individual’s lifestyle in mind, which includes electronic access to their care team.

  • 68 percent accept patient-generated data through the patient portal.
  • 26 percent of Most Wired organizations offer e-visits through a mobile application.
  • 61 percent use social media to provide support groups.

“Hospitals are breaking out of their traditional four walls and providing care where and when patients need it,” said Rick Pollack, president and CEO of the AHA. “These Most Wired hospitals exemplify this transformation by harnessing technology, engaging patients and offering services remotely. And, removing policy and other barriers to telehealth will allow even faster adoption of these amazing technologies.”

Most Wired hospitals are utilizing population health management tools and partnering with other health care providers to share critical clinical information used in analyzing interventions aimed at key patient groups, such as those with diabetes. To get patients the right care, hospitals are using predictive modeling to eliminate preventable problems.

  • 53 percent interface electronic health record data with population health tools.
  • 62 percent stratify patients according to risk.
  • 51 percent aggregate data from patient encounters to create a community health record.

The versatility of mobile technologies makes it possible for clinicians and care team members to have the right tools for sound clinical decision-making wherever they are: 81 percent of Most Wired hospitals use mobile applications to notify clinicians of sudden changes in patient conditions and correlated events such as falls or respiratory distress or failure.

As they build out new capabilities, hospitals are also taking strong actions to ensure health data is secure.

  • More than 90 percent use intrusion detection systems, privacy audit systems and security incident event management to detect patient privacy breaches, monitor for malicious activities and produce real-time analysis of security alerts.
  • 84 percent conduct a third-party security audit annually to ensure that guidelines are followed.

HealthCare’s Most Wired® survey, conducted between Jan. 15 and March 15, 2016, is published annually by Health & Hospitals Networks (H&HN). The 2016 Most Wired® survey and benchmarking study is a leading industry barometer measuring information technology (IT) use and adoption among hospitals nationwide. The survey of 680 participants, representing an estimated 2,146 hospitals—more than 34 percent of all hospitals in the U.S.—examines how organizations are leveraging IT to improve performance for value-based health care in the areas of infrastructure, business and administrative management; quality and safety; and clinical integration.

Detailed results of the survey and study can be found in the July issue of H&HN. For a full list of winners, visit www.hhnmag.com.

About the American Hospital Association
The AHA is a not-for-profit association of health care provider organizations and individuals that are co
mmitted to the improvement of health in their communities. The AHA is the national advocate for its members, which include nearly 5,000 hospitals, health care systems, networks and other providers of care. Founded in 1898, the AHA provides education for health care leaders and is a source of information on health care issues and trends. For more information, visit www.aha.org.

About Health Forum
Health Forum is a strategic business enterprise of the American Hospital Association, creatively partnering to develop and deliver essential information and innovative services to help health care leaders achieve organizational performance excellence and sustainability. For more information, visit www.healthforum.com

TMC: Getting its kind on

mural 1 Triple digit temperatures didn’t dampen enthusiasm for dozens of Tucson Medical Center employees and volunteers who took shifts over Friday and Saturday to install a “Be Kind” mosaic mural in a patio near the Gift Shop.

The Kindness Patio was the latest evolution in TMC’s participation in the Ben’s Bells Kind Colleagues program, which asks businesses and organizations to place a priority on building a positive workspace.

The mural’s roots date to 2014, when TMC agreed to accept a Ben’s Bells kindness challenge and document 1 ,000 acts of kindness. Employees, patients and volunteers helped TMC surpass its goal, with 1 ,240 acts of kindness.

Earlier this year, Ben’s Bells Founder Jeannette Mare led a conversation on kindness for TMC managers, directors and executives, touching on scientific research around the power of kindnemural 2ss to heal, and tailored to the specific opportunities available in health care to practice self-kindness to reduce stress and boost productivity.

During Hospital Week at the beginning of May, staff volunteered to make the tiles that would become the mural. Hope Thomas, the director of community programs for Tucson Medical Center, said the choice to put the mural inside the campus, instead of on an exterior wall with greater public visibility, was a conscious one.

“We know our employees appreciate our relationship with Ben’s Bells and the work we’ve done to become a kind colleague in the community,” she said. “We wanted to find a space where they would have a chance to see the mural and where it could reinforce the work that we do here every day – particularly since the practice of kindness is already reflected in our mission and our values.”

Click for mmural 3ore information about Ben’s Bells’ Kind Colleagues program.

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.”

TMC honored by county attorney for support of victims of sexual assault, strangulation

National Victims' Rights Week

Pima County Attorney Barbara LaWall, right, thanks Judy Rich for TMC’s long-term commitment to victims of sexual assault and strangulation.

Tucson Medical Center and TMC President and CEO Judy Rich were recognized this week by Pima County Attorney Barbara LaWall as part of National Crime Victims’ Rights Week.

Rich accepted an award on behalf of TMC for the hospital’s commitment to survivors of sexual assault and strangulation. TMC has partnered with the Pima County Attorney’s Office for nearly two decades to provide compassionate care to victims and to support the collection of evidence through forensic examinations.

TMC has a dedicated room–away from all the hustle and bustle off the main Emergency Department–fitted with special forensic equipment to gather evidence of rape and strangulation. In addition, victims receive medical, emotional and practical care as they begin the healing process.

Also recognized at the ceremony Tuesday night at Z Mansion downtown was Sharon Welch, a former TMC nurse, for her continued work with the Southern Arizona Center Against Sexual Assault as a forensic nurse examiner for strangulation victims, using a protocol developed, in part, by Stephanie Noriega, another honoree from Emerge! Center Against Domestic Abuse.

National Victims’ Rights Week recognizes that serving victims and rebuilding their trust, restores not only hope to survivors, but to the communities in which we all live.

“This evening we re-dedicate ourselves to serving victims, building trust and restoring hope for justice and healing,” LaWall said. “We dedicate ourselves to assisting victims so that they may find support, justice and peace.”

Jaimie Jill Leon-Guerrero was the Voice of Courage honoree for her dedication to public education and awareness of the devastating consequences of impaired driving. When Leon-Guerreo was a Tucson Fire Department emergency dispatcher, she dispatched  EMTs to the scene of a bicyclist fatally hit by a car only to discover later that the victim was her partner, Kris. Other honorees included Jason Frazier, Mothers Against Drunk Driving; Maria Garrick, Southern Arizona Children’s Advocacy Center; and Carol Gaxiola, Homicide Survivors, Inc.

About 150 attended including Pima County Sheriff Chris Nanos; representatives from Tucson, Pima Community College and University of Arizona police departments; and legal and nonprofit communities.

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.

 

Former chief of staff to be remembered Friday in memorial service at TMC

John WilsonFormer TMC Chief of Staff, founding radiologist of Radiology Ltd. and dedicated athlete John A. Wilson, M.D., died Feb. 2. He was 98. His memorial service is Friday, Feb. 12, 3 p.m., at the TMC Marshall Conference Center.

“When I read his obituary this morning, all I could see was John running through the halls of TMC to his car. He wasn’t in hurry, it was just that he was a great athlete,” said Palmer Evans, M.D., former TMC senior vice president and chief medical officer. “I can just see him running up to heaven.”

Roxanne Bacon, Radiology manager, remembers Dr. Wilson as “the kindest, most gentle man I ever knew.” She also recounted that Dr. Wilson practiced radiology before it went high-tech. In order to read X-rays, he always had a light on his head, and his ruler and magnifying glass nearby.

Dr. Wilson was also former president of the Pima County Medical Society. His greatest devotion was for family — his and others. “He was very involved with his family and knew all about yours,” Bacon said.

Dr. Wilson is survived by Helen, his beloved wife of 72 years, three children and many others. Click to read his full obituary at the Arizona Daily Star.

The Spirit of Philanthropy Lives in the Popcorn Kid

Lietha Spirit of Philanthropy

Dorothy “The Popcorn Kid” Lietha shows off the poster colleagues signed congratulating her on receiving a Spirit of Philanthropy award.

It doesn’t take the wealth of Bill Gates or Andrew Carnegie to be a philanthropist. In fact, based on the root of the word, philanthropy, which means love of man, it takes a mindset of wanting to help.

Local philanthropist Dorothy Lietha sums up her philosophy in just a few words, “I do it for the kids,” she said. “They are our future.”

Lietha is receiving a Spirit of Philanthropy Award as part of National Philanthropy Day tomorrow, Nov. 19. Each year the Association of Fundraising Professionals, Southern Arizona Chapter, hosts the local event, which is a special day set aside to recognize the great contributions of philanthropy – and those people active in the philanthropic community – to the enrichment of our lives, our community and our world.

The TMC Foundation wanted Lietha to be recognized as a way to formally acknowledge her extraordinary leadership and vision in support of Tucson Medical Center.

Most are surprised to hear about the accomplishments of Lietha, an outgoing 40-year employee who started in Environmental Services moved to Food Service and currently works in the Wellness department as an attendant in the TMC Optimal Results gym.

She began selling popcorn in the ‘80s near the hospital’s cafeteria as a way to raise money for Children’s Miracle Network, which benefits pediatric programs and services. As the self-described “Popcorn Kid,” Lietha originally charged 25 cents a bag, but eventually raised it to 50 cents. In addition, she occasionally would ask a company or vendor for a donation that could be raffled off, including baskets, stuffed animals, gift certificates and more.

The TMC Foundation reports that Lietha has contributed more than $40,000 over the years to support CMN and TMC’s smallest patients.

“Dorothy is an inspiration to us all,” said Erika Grasse, TMC director of Children’s Miracle Network. “She shows the power of what a single person with a big heart and dedication can do to positively impact her community.”

It’s not just the movers and shakers of a community who make a difference. The dedicated efforts of one person can be an example to us all.

Kind acts touch many as TMC takes the #bekindchallenge

bekindchallengeSince Tucson Medical Center kicked off its #BeKindChallenge a month ago, more than 50 acts of kindness have been reported. The effort, part of Ben’s Bells Project “Kind Colleagues” program, is based on the belief that everyone has the capacity to be kind, and that it is ultimately a skill that can be cultivated. TMC’s goal is to record at least 1,000 acts of kindness before the end of the school year in May.

Here are some of the best acts of kindness reported so far:

Nicole Durazo and Amy Hill

Nicole Durazo and Amy Hill

Nicole Durazo – We had a patient who was wheelchair-bound, writes patient-care tech Amy Hill, who works on the adult telemetry unit. He just wanted to go outside. When he was Nicole Durazo’s patient, she would take him outside. One Sunday when he WAS NOT Nicole’s patient, she took the time to come over to the other side of the unit to take him outside so that he could see the moon.

 

Amy Duschinski

Amy Duschinski

From the other side of the hospital, we have this:

Amy Duschinski – a registered nurse on the mother/baby unit, Duschinski was recognized by the unit’s assistant manager, Angelica Hibbs, for stepping up. “Amy offered to help one of her co-workers with a less than glamorous task,” Hibbs wrote. “She helped her co-worker administer a hi/lo enema that took over 40 minutes. Not only did she help the patient feel better, but she was also there to support her co-worker.”

Hibbs also awarded a kindness coin to Maria Romero, a patient care tech also on the mother/baby unit. Hibbs writes:

Maria Romero

Maria Romero

I had a wonderful experience helping Maria get a patient up to the bathroom. Maria has truly mastered the art of getting up patients in the most gentle, non-rushed and KIND way. The patient was in a lot of pain after her tubal. When the patient stood up she hugged Maria and started crying on her shoulder. You could tell that she had developed trust in her. Maria was so encouraging and patient with her. The patient told Maria she reminded her of her mother. This is not the first time Maria has heard this. She hears it from her patients often. Maria was also my PCT 12 years ago when I had my son and I still remember the great and kind care she gave me. Gracias Maria!

Sue Taylor, M.D., who specializes in hospice and palliative care medicine, shared the following:

I recently did family conferences with Neva Corbell, Lisa Vasquez and Gina Luna, all registered nurses, and can attest to their kindness.

Neva, Lisa and Gina

Neva Corbell, Lisa Vasquez and Gina Luna

In each case, families were unable to accept their loved one’s terminal condition, and unable to face the inevitable grieving. In each case, the care had reached a level deemed non-beneficial, which was causing distress. I asked these bedside nurses to attend the family conferences. Then, I asked them to share their opinion. After all, they are the ones who bear witness to the suffering, to the pain, to the daily/hourly decline, to the burdens of treatment, and to the immense faith, hope and love of families.

These nurses responded with truth telling, and tears, and, most importantly, clear and heart-felt direction that it was time to lovingly transition to care directed at comfort. They spoke honestly, using plain language, and with a level of detail that comes from hours and hours and hours of hard won experience. They knew what the consultants had said; they knew the conflicts; they knew the issues. I didn’t. Families respect that.

Amazingly, each family member agreed. They trusted these nurses, and wanted to work with them to do the best, and right thing. One mentioned that he could see through the curtains, and had been watching the entire unit. He was so impressed by the staff, and how they treated everyone. He knew he could let go now, because he knew that everyone was handled with gentleness.

Please thank Neva Corbell, Lisa Vasquez, and Gina Luna for their exemplary contribution to the mission of TMC.

TMC thanks these nurses and all the staff for the kindness the show towards patients, families, visitors and each other.

At TMC, the goal of is to create a kind workplace, thereby reducing employee stress, increasing productivity and creating a better environment for both staff and patients. TMC is the first hospital in Tucson to participate in this program, which is quite an honor, and it is a great opportunity for TMC to embed kindness into the core of our culture.

Countdown to Open Enrollment: Get ready for 2015 coverage!

shutterstock_72416419Starting Nov. 15, Tucson Medical Center is ready to help consumers with renewing their existing health plan or choosing a new one, as the second year of the Affordable Care Act gets underway.

Although the open enrollment period runs through Feb. 15, current enrollees are encouraged to return to the Marketplace by Dec. 15, to make sure they are covered starting Jan. 1, since all benefits end at the close of 2014.

During this time, consumers can update their information to ensure that they will receive the right amount of financial assistance, and that they are still enrolled in the plan that best fits their needs starting Jan. 1.

To kick off open enrollment, Tucson Medical Center is taking appointments all day Saturday, Nov. 15, to help consumers update their current plan or enroll in a new one. The event will run from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. by appointment only at the El Dorado Health Campus, 1400 N. Wilmot Road. Contact Sylvia Brown at (520) 324-4745 or Sylvia.Brown@tmcaz.com for an appointment.

Weekday and evening appointments are available. Additionally, other scheduled TMC enrollment events include:

  • Saturday, Dec. 6, 9 a.m. – 4 p.m.
    TMC El Dorado Health Campus
    1400 N. Wilmot Road, north of Speedway
    Appointment required: Contact (520)324-4745 or Sylvia.Brown@tmcaz.com
  • Saturday, Dec. 13, 9 a.m. – 4 p.m.
    TMC El Dorado Health Campus, 1400 N. Wilmot Road, north of Speedway
    Appointment required: Contact (520)324-4745 or Sylvia.Brown@tmcaz.com
  • Saturday, Jan. 10, noon to 3 p.m.
    BEYOND Festival, Downtown Tucson, Armory Park, 221 S. 6th Ave
    Visit www.beyond-tucson.org for more information
  • Saturday, Jan. 17, 9 a.m. – 4 p.m.
    TMC El Dorado Health Campus, 1400 N. Wilmot Road, north of Speedway
    Appointment required:  Contact (520)324-4745 or Sylvia.Brown@tmcaz.com
  •  Saturday, Jan. 31, 9 a.m. – 4 p.m.
    TMC El Dorado Health Campus, 1400 N. Wilmot Road, north of Speedway
    Appointment required: Contact (520)324-4745 or Sylvia.Brown@tmcaz.com
  •  Saturday, February 14, 9 a.m. – noon
    TMC campus, 5301 E. Grant Road, west entrance
    Appointment required: Contact (520)324-4745 or Sylvia.Brown@tmcaz.com

New non-invasive colon cancer screen hits the market; is it better than a colonoscopy?

colon cancer awareness true or falseA new home-based screening test for colon cancer has recently hit the scenes. Cologuard or stool DNA testing was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration this past August and is covered by Medicare.

The test looks for cancer-related DNA and red blood cells in a person’s stool. On the one hand, it doesn’t require the unpleasant preparation that is needed for a colonoscopy. But on the other hand, the $600 cost, which is not yet covered by private insurers, is much greater than the $25 it costs for a more basic fecal occult blood test, also called a FIT test.

colon cancer awareness ribbom“It’s a good test. It’s better than the stool occult blood test. Cologuard detected 92 percent of colorectal cancers and 42 percent of advanced adenomas, or polyps, in the study population, while the FIT screening test detected 74 percent of cancer and 24 percent of advanced adenomas. But it’s a very new test,” said Fadi Deeb, M.D., a local gastroenterologists, who also serves as TMC’s section chief for gastroenterology, “and we don’t know how often we should do it, every two years, every three years, or every five years? Intervals have not been tested, so we just don’t know.”

Given its $600 cost, which is equal to 24 FIT tests, it would be interesting to see a study comparing one Cologuard to 20-24 consecutive FIT tests over a period of one to three years, in detecting colon cancer and advanced adenomas. Dr. Deeb said.

It is not currently recommended as a method to screen for colorectal cancer by the United States Preventive Services Task Force. The USPSTF recommends adults age 50 to 75 who are at average risk for colon cancer to be screened using fecal occult blood every year, a sigmoidoscopy every five years plus stool occult blood every three years, or colonoscopy every 10 years.

Dr. Deeb said the new test had its limitations. “You can’t use it if you have a personal history of colon polyp, colon cancer, a family history of colon cancer, ulcerative colitis, Crohn’s disease, familial adenomatous polyposis or bleeding hemorrhoids.”

Cologuard was not test directly against colonoscopy for screening. “Colonoscopy is the gold standard” and is more effective in detecting precancerous polyps, which can be removed during the same procedure. Regular screening for and removal of these polyps with a colonoscopy can reduce a person’s risk of developing colorectal cancer by up to 90 percent.

This new test has a false-positive rate of about 13 percent, meaning those people will likely need to undergo a colonoscopy to rule out cancer.

“The test is an option for certain patients who don’t like invasive procedures or for those who can afford it,” he said.

Emergency Department reduces wait times; sees increase in patient volumes

LeanEmergencyEmergency Department director Melissa Ritchey and the staff were feeling discouraged in January 2013. Wait times in the department were too high. Too many patients – as many as 7 percent in some months during 2012 – were leaving without being seen.

When she learned Tucson Medical Center would embrace a “Lean” management philosophy, she was first in line. “I needed help. We had tried a series of strategies, but it just seemed nothing was working.”

The staff got to work, relying on multidisciplinary teams to break apart and deeply analyze steps in a process, looking for inefficiencies and bottlenecks.

Example: In 2013, it was taking as much as 30 minutes from a time a patient received discharge instructions to the time that patient was walking out the door. Staff set a goal of 15 minutes to more quickly free up beds for other patients.

Every day, staff huddles to track the numbers, troubleshooting problems they encountered when they miss any target such as the 15 minute mark. Sometimes, they’re so eager to see their measurements that they call and ask for their numbers if they are not working that day.

That kind of engagement is reflected in measurements.

Wait times in the main emergency room have dropped from an average of 4.6 hours to meet the industry standard of 3.5 hours.

By 2013, staff had reduced the number of patients who left without being seen from a high of 7 percent the year before, to 3.5 percent. This year to date, that number is 1.75 percent.

“It has been a culture change, the department is not what it was like 5 years ago” Ritchey said.

She admits when she first heard about Lean, she was a bit skeptical, since other strategies had not made a dent. The difference? “This process really does empower the staff. It’s really about generating a sense of ownership.”

Emergency room nurse Heather Williams agreed. “This is a very different place now than it was a few years ago. Staff is really involved in helping to determine what works and as a result, we’re really working as a team and there’s much more pride and ownership than ever before.”

For Ritchey, was it difficult, as a manager, to let go? “You always hear that it’s hard to look at the big picture when you’re always trying to put out fires. Now, if a computer is broken or we need to come up with a holiday schedule, the staff takes ownership, and it really has allowed me to focus on the big picture and assure the staff have what they need to care for our patients.”

“For a manager, it’s really about finding that balance between when you need to issue clear directives and when you can step back and let staff decide how to take care of it.”

She thinks happier patients and happier staff worked together to fuel another happier number: Higher volumes. In May 2014, the department saw 500 more patients than the previous May, with year-to-date volumes 7.5 percent higher than expectation.

Hospital Week spotlight: Meet Lucy Maupin

Lucy Maupin, senior systems software engineer

Lucy Maupin, senior systems software engineer

Lucy Maupin works diligently in the Alamo Building, keeping the organization’s major computer systems running smoothly. Maupin, a senior systems software engineer, first started working for TMC 28 years ago in TMCHE Lab. She then moved to Information Services in 2001.

One hat she wears is that of administrator for the Epic database, supporting the foundation of Epic and ensuring that it runs well. She is also the point person performing the technical side of upgrades to Epic, which is the core computer system of the hospital’s electronic medical records.

The other hat she wears is that of systems engineer for the Cloverleaf interface engine, where she manages the real-time interfaces between TMC systems. The interface allows information to be passed from a patient admission in Epic, say, to the computer system in the lab.

“Lucy is responsible for the care and feeding of the core server systems that support both Epic, as well as the Cloverleaf interface engine,” explained Jon Hallgrimsson, I/S manager of systems and databases. “These two systems are probably the most important systems in the hospital and support the daily work of everyone in both the clinical environment, as well as the Business Office.”

She and her team keep Epic up and processing information as efficiently as possible. “I work with a whole team of people who are dedicated to minimizing our planned downtimes,” she said.

“Lucy is passionate about quality and patient safety, and she works very hard to keep the highest standards for TMC’s patients,” Hallgrimsson said. “Lucy is a highly valued member of the I/S systems team, and the entire I/S department relies on her expert knowledge in these critical systems.”

One of her biggest challenges is staying on top of technology changes.

“You have to keep up in order to be effective and provide the expected results of these highly complicated systems,” she said. “There is high risk in most everything I do on a daily basis.”

Though keeping up may be challenging, it also brings its own rewards.

“TMC is giving me the opportunity to work on the cutting edge of software technology, always learning and growing,” she said. “I believe that my hard work contributes to the well-being of our patients and that’s why I love working in health care.”

Hallgrimsson seconds her dedication to patients.

“Lucy is passionate about quality and patient safety, and she works very hard to keep the highest standards for TMC’s patients,” he said, adding that “Lucy has been with TMC for a long time, and is one of my most valued employees. We’re lucky to have her in the driver’s seat for Epic!”

And for Maupin, TMC has made for a satisfying career.

“I’ve been here my whole life. TMC is my life, my home away from home and my family,” she said. “TMC has great people.”

Hospital Week spotlight: Meet Greg Harris

Greg Harris underneath one of his signs at the 2014 Rock ‘N Rodeo event with his wife, Kathy (right), and director of TMC Volunteer Services Hope Thomas.

Greg Harris is TMC’s cabinet maker and special events carpenter. He was hired 28 years ago after running his own carpentry business for 10 years, including doing jobs for the hospital. Originally he built charting tables, off-the-wall units and other cabinetry pieces throughout the hospital.

Slowly, though, he started working on special events, coordinating logistics as well as the carpentry and stage work, including building sets and other props. His and his team’s handiwork is seen at the likes of Be Safe Saturday, the annual Baby Fair and Rock ‘N Rodeo. Now add to the list themed sets for the TMC Foundation’s annual Gala and Community Benefits’ various community runs.

When the Gala had a Hollywood theme, he had fun building a replica of the iconic Hollywood sign as well as a façade for Ric’s Café from Casa Blanca.

Some of his projects have special meaning. This past year, he built a mesquite fish tank stand for the lobby of the Pediatric Emergency Department. The wood came from trees cut when TMC for Children was expanded. The trees were then milled and dried for two years, he said. “The fish tank is the first piece and the remaining wood is to be used only on furniture for pediatric areas.”

He’s touching the greater community, giving a positive, professional image of the hospital.

“He takes my vision and kicks it up a notch, always exceeding my wildest dreams,” said Hope Thomas, director of Volunteer Services & Community Programs.

“It all started with the TMC arch for Baby Fair in 2000. In my mind’s eye I was picturing a simple arch that bore the TMC logo,” she said. “What I got was a creative and artful masterpiece, right down to the stucco finish and southwest colors and accents. The commitment to every last detail defines his work.”

And it really is all about his interpretation of the vision, she said. “He always wants TMC to outshine every other exhibitor at an event.”

While he enjoys building the sets, he still has responsibilities for the hospital, and that presents some of the challenges of his job – juggling responsibilities with a host of departments, including the Foundation, Community Outreach, Community Benefit and Plant Services.

But that’s nothing compared with the fact that he enjoys what he does.

“There are a lot of fun people around here,” he said, and one in particular. “I met my wife 22 years ago, and we’ve been married 20!”

Hospital Week spotlight: Meet Richard Lopez

Richard Lopez

Richard Lopez sorts linens at the TMC Laundry.

Richard Lopez has worked in the Laundry for eight years and has found Tucson Medical Center to be a place more friendly than any other place he’s worked.

“There are a lot of caring people,” said the equipment operator who attends to the linen needs of patients. He also helps out wherever the need may be.

“A lot of times when people ask for directions, I help them and show them the right way,” he said. “If they need a blanket or something, I take it to them. I help out the best I can, treat people the way I would want to be treated.”

The job is not without its challenges, Lopez admits. The units want their linens quickly. “The faster we get it to them, the happier everyone is.”

And his manager is happy to have him in the department. “Richard is a great employee, very polite and a hard worker,” said Lacee Kimball, manager of Laundry. “When he is out in the hospital, I know that he goes above and beyond to help any patient or guest to the best of his ability.  He really, truly cares about everyone and everything.”

 

Persistence pays off: past scholarship winner earns BSN, continues to chart her own course

When it comes to education, Judy McCord is not one to give up. McCord, a registered nurse in the post-anesthesia care unit, decided to apply for the annual Chief Nursing Officer Scholarship in 2012.

Judy McCord standing behind charge nurse Judith Fortson in the post-anesthesia care unit on the second floor of the surgical tower.

Judy McCord standing behind charge nurse Judith Fortson in the post-anesthesia care unit on the second floor of the surgical tower.

“I tried for three years in a row,” she said, “I had to do something this time to grab the CNO’s attention.”

Each year, she put together a brochure of herself and the steps she wanted to take in her career. It finally did the trick. McCord was awarded the scholarship and went on to earn her bachelor’s of science degree in nursing from Grand Canyon University.

McCord joined TMC in 2002 as a surgery scheduler. In her career at TMC, in addition to scheduling, she has been a unit clerk, a PCT, an LPN and an RN. Outside of TMC, she has been a banker, a medical biller and a scheduler in a surgeon’s office.

“I have had a lot of hats in my life,” said the 51-year-old, who earned her associate’s degree from Pima Community College in 2007.

“It took me a while, because I had to do all my prerequisites,” she said, adding that she was also rearing five kids, taking them to all their activities, caring for her dying father and recovering from an automobile accident.

The bachelor’s degree, on the other hand, took 11 months, and she graduated with honors.

“It’s free education; you’ve got to take advantage of it,” said McCord, whose higher education got off to a rocky start. McCord and her family moved from Long Island, N.Y., to Phoenix where she attended her first three years of high school.

Her family moved to Tucson for her senior year, but then her parents decided to move back to Phoenix. McCord stayed behind to finish high school. But, she ended up quitting.

Then someone called her an “idiot.” And that was that. “I went back to school with a full-time job and living on my own, to earn my diploma and prove them wrong. I am not an idiot.”

She made that clear, continuing to work hard and keep learning.

Katie Brooks, manager of Workforce Development has known McCord since she was a unit clerk in the operator room, many years ago. “She has worked so hard. She knew what she wanted and went after it,” Brooks said.

And it wasn’t just Brooks, either, who believed in McCord. Cheryl Young was the CNO who awarded her the scholarship.

“I want to give a big thanks to both Katie Brooks and Cheryl Young for believing in me,” she said.

With degree in hand, even more doors are open to her.

“Now that I have my degree, I want to use my BSN and utilize my education,” she said. “I don’t believe in failure, I believe in success. I don’t really believe in giving up. I kind of have gusto.”

Empathy and Nursing: Human Connection

By Elizabeth Maish, TMC Vice President & Chief Nursing Officer

Tom BergeronWhat is nursing?

What is it that we do every day?

We follow a lot of orders, give medications, and look for supplies.

We respond to the interminable call lights.

We worry and wait…

We rarely take the time to ponder what it is that we do besides what is right in front of us at the time. Some of us head home after work and wonder how it got so complicated…and how we have arrived at this place, doing this work. Our thinking is usually peppered with life decisions, alternate paths taken and yet to take, and a past full of change.

So what does a nurse do? We optimize life changes: the good, the sad, the successes and the losses. Incidentally, a lot of what we see is made up of all these things! We carry through, we carry water, we carry on. We shield, protect, and soothe pain. In the process of caring, we bind to the human condition ‑ the inexplicable and sacred.

We are present in the unwelcome moments, the quiet moments and final moments. I’m describing empathy. This is what it looks like.

Many find that being with the sick and the dying is hard or impossible; to stare at your own mortality can be discomforting – you know the future that everything passes, including you and everyone you love. As nurses, we’re right there watching and helping life play out at the bedside. This empathic way that nurses have means simply being there, showing up, with intent.

Can you recall a patient who righted your bearings, hit you in the heart or gut, changed your practice, or poured gasoline on the smoldering fire that was your passion for caring?

I can. She was 88. She liked to line dance and work in her garden. As she grew very old, she didn’t want to give these things up and decided on surgery to fix a very tired heart. I met her after surgery, knowing she wouldn’t leave the bed she was in. She would never stand, cut a flower or make herself some food. I grasped her hand during a position change and suddenly she was wide awake, smiling around an ET tube.

We looked at each other and in her eyes I saw a mixture of sadness, resignation and mostly peace. None of this had turned out the way she thought it would. But it was alright. She was facing her end with calm and was ready. Regrets? Maybe a few, but no matter, the time had come. The thoughts and feelings that passed between us in a few seconds re-ignited my sleeping brain, formally consumed with mostly petty things that had to be done that day. She re-ignited my heart, where she lives as a hero. For some reason, I was there with her to share this moment of our humanity.

There is nothing more important than this work.

The next time you pause to think about what to do next, call on the patient who sent a divine lightning bolt through your heart and soul. We all have some patient memory inside that awakened us! Silently thank this patient for reminding you, centering you to care, to show up and to connect. It’s a tough world out there ‑ nurses make it bearable and many times, joyously livable.

Please accept my sincere congratulations on the 2014 Nurses Week.

Flexibility, friends, food choices – keys to one RN’s active lifestyle

TMC nurse Karina Bechtold hiking in Sabino Canyon on her day off.

TMC nurse Karina Bechtold hiking in Sabino Canyon on her day off.

When Karina Bechtold was a university student working as a fitness instructor she didn’t understand how people weren’t able to prioritize their lives to make sure they had an active, healthy lifestyle.

Admittedly, the Float Pool nurse had always had a side fun job that focused on fitness. She had an edge to staying active, but still, couldn’t anyone find the time they needed to work out?

“I didn’t get it when I was a college student,” said Bechtold, a five-year RN at TMC. “Why would people give up the workout?”

Then the realities of life set in – a nursing career, a husband, a house and then a baby.

“Fitness is definitely a priority, but I’ve had to change my ideas,” she said. Now she has to be flexible, surround herself with active friends and be more mindful of her eating.

The 28-year-old no longer has the luxury of spending an hour or more at the gym every day. Instead, she’s committed to doing something active on her four days off each week.

Some days it means getting up early before her husband heads off to work. He can watch their 15-month-old son while she spends 45 minutes on the treadmill. “Sometimes the baby is banging on the door the whole time,” said Bechtold, who is also in graduate school to become a doctor of nursing practice.

Other times, it might be a hike up Tumamoc Hill with the now 21-pound baby on her back. “We go slowly, he enjoys the view and my husband runs ahead.” As a nurse and a mom, flexibility is a key to healthy living.

“You have to do whatever works,” she said. “Our schedules fluctuate from week to week, even day to day.” It helps, too, to have a diverse group of workout buddies whom she calls on for exercise dates – some for hiking, some for morning workouts, others for afternoon exercise. “Everyone has friends to go to lunch with, I have friends I can exercise with,” she said, “I have options depending on what my week might look like.”

She has a couple nurses in this group because they also have crazy schedules. “I might know that one of my friends has tomorrow off, too, and could be up for a hike at 2 in the afternoon.”

Exercise is only part of the health equation. Bechtold is also mindful of her eating. “I try to make a good decision at every meal, every day,” she said.

For example, she prefers not to drink her calories and instead water is her drink of choice. “If you don’t get to the exercise, at least you’ve eaten well.”

Bechtold has had to change her mind set with her changing lifestyle, but she’s still committed to her health and she keeps a positive focus. “You don’t want to beat yourself up. If things didn’t work out today, there’s always tomorrow.”

TMC’s Michael Duran, TMC Foundation vice president, follows in the dance steps of Linda Wojtowicz

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May 5 update: During Saturday’s seventh annual Dancing With Our Stars, TMC Vice President Michael Duran won both the judges’ award and the audience award for dancing the bolero. Congratulations go out to Duran and his partner, Ramona Danielle, for the fun, the fancy footwork and the support of the Southern Arizona Diaper Bank.

 

Linda Wojtowicz dancing at the 2012 DWOS.

Linda Wojtowicz dancing at the 2012 DWOS.

TMC’s Michael Duran has a hard act to follow. In 2012, former TMC Chief Operations Officer Linda Wojtowicz wowed the crowd with her foxtrot at the annual Dancing with Our Stars fund-raising event for the Diaper Bank of Southern Arizona, coming in second place.

Last year, TMC Foundation Trustee Anne Fulton-Cavett was a big winner and crowd favorite at DWOS, Tucson’s take on the wildly popular television program. The event pairs local “stars” with professional dancers who practice their hearts out and then hit the stage to dazzle and entertain, all for the benefit of the Diaper Bank of Southern Arizona. Adding to the excitement is the audience’s participation in the voting process keeping everyone on the edge of their seats wondering which pair will take first place.

Duran dances bolero at this year's DWOS, benefiting the Southern Arizona Diaper Bank.

Michael Duran will dance bolero at this year’s DWOS benefiting the Southern Arizona Diaper Bank.

This year, Duran has taken up the challenge and the cause….

How did you get roped into all of this?

TMC has had a tradition of sponsoring this great event as well as offering up an executive to participate. After a few recommendations, I decided that I would take one for the team and dance for a good cause.

What dance will you be performing? What song?

I will be dancing a bolero to the Temptations’ Just My Imagination.

Why did you choose this particular dance?

I really have to give credit to my instructor, Ramona Daniel. She picked the song and did all of the choreography. She’s just an amazing instructor and thankfully very patient. For my part, I wouldn’t have known a bolero from a cha cha or a rumba. I remember though, about our fifth lesson, Ramona asked me why we were doing a bolero and I told her that I had no idea. She laughed and told me that it was one of the most difficult dances. All I could think was, “well, now you tell me.”

How much training/practice have you put in?

I started practicing back in February and I have had around 13 lessons since then.

Have you been studying Dancing with the Stars and dance videos for tips?

No. I don’t even watch Dancing with the Stars.

Have you always danced, or is this a completely new adventure for you?

My wife and daughter both danced ballet, and I have always appreciated dance immensely. But, for me, this is way, way out of my comfort zone. That being said, I have really enjoyed the challenge and the chance to be a part of such a moving cause.

Out of your fellow contestants who are you most concerned is going to dance off with the win?

I think I may have some good competition from Jenny Carrillo…I watched her practice on Saturday and she looked really good!

The Diaper Bank of Southern Arizona, the first diaper bank in the nation, addresses a gaping hole in the social safety net by providing diapers to old, disabled and young alike. Diapers aren’t covered by food stamps and there are few resources to support the most vulnerable among us and address this little talked about need. Over the past few years the need has grown and while the Diaper Bank distributes over 600,000 diapers and incontinence supplies, the requests total over 1.5 million.

Support Duran’s effort by donating to The Diaper Bank. Add “Stuff the Box for Michael Duran” on your check or credit card donation, or vote online for him and help him take home the trophy! You can also join us at Dancing with Our Stars this Friday, May 2, by purchasing a ticket, or donate sealed packages of diapers and adult continence supplies, host a diaper drive or give to the Diaper Bank (donations of up to $200 per individual can be applied to the working poor Arizona tax credit.)

From devastating diagnosis to full recovery

Renee Sowards recovers after a tumor was removed from her spine. Her Akita, Keigo, stayed with her during her stay at TMC.

Renee Sowards recovers after a tumor was removed from her spine. Her Akita, Keigo, stayed with her during her stay at TMC.

For Tucson resident Renee Sowards, life took a 180-degree turn in three short months.  Last January, she was diagnosed with a tumor in her spine. It was serious enough that it was causing her to lose mobility in her legs and it required surgery.

Once she was diagnosed, Sowards did some research on which neurosurgeon she would literally trust her life with.  She decided to go with TMC’s Dr. Abhay Sanan from the Center for Neurosciences.  She called his office to get the new patient process started and hadn’t even made an appointment yet when she received a phone call that confirmed she had made the right choice.

“My phone rang at eight o’clock on a Sunday night.  It was Dr. Sanan.  He said he needed to see me right away, and I told him I had jury duty the next day.  He paused and asked, ‘So I take it you’re still ambulatory?’  I knew right then that my situation was very serious,” she said.  “Because of where the tumor was located, I stood a great chance of losing my legs.”

Renee Sowards enjoying the Sonoran desert more than a year after a tumor was removed from her spine.

Sowards enjoys the desert more than a year after a  tumor was removed at TMC.

Two weeks later, Sowards was in the operating room.  After several hours, she emerged from surgery and was told that it was a success.  When she learned she would spend the next five days at TMC recovering, Sowards had a unique request for hospital staff.  “I asked if Keigo, our 140-pound well-behaved Akita could stay with me in my room.”  To her surprise, the answer was yes.  “It was so comfortable to be able to sit in my chair and just rub my toes on him as he lay at my feet.  Having him there really helped me heal,” she said.  “My husband had a hard time leaving my side when I was going through this.  Knowing that I was receiving the best care and had Keigo with me gave him the peace of mind he needed to go home at night.”

Since her surgery and stay, Sowards has made a complete recovery and eventually headed back to work. “I had such excellent care at TMC, and Dr. Sanan was so wonderful,” said Sowers.

 

 

TMC promotes literacy and life skills in partnering with Fred G. Acosta Job Corps Center

Channing Tsosie Frank G. Acosta Job Corps student who is interning at TMC

Channing Tsosie
Frank G. Acosta Job Corps student
who is interning at TMC

When 22-year-old Channing Tsosie graduated from high school, he didn’t have to look very far for inspiration about what to do with his life.  Many of his family members are electricians back home on the reservation in Kayenta, Arizona, and he decided it’s what he wanted for his life as well.  “I couldn’t get into college, so I thought I would be better off getting some vocational experience and then entering the workforce,” he said.  To get that training, along with other invaluable life skills, he turned to the Fred G. Acosta Job Corps Center in Tucson. 

Since 1979, the center has offered highly structured career and academic training programs for eight different vocations so that students receive the skills they need to succeed in today’s workforce – at no cost to them or their families.  The goal for each student is to complete the training program in two years, and then either get a job, go to college, pursue advanced training, or join the military.  “We work with these students to achieve these goals, and try to help them understand that education and training are the keys to being successful,” said Norvell Watson, Fred G. Acosta Job Corp Center Work Base Learning Coordinator.  “Channing entered the facilities maintenance program since he had an interest in electrical wiring.  His community back home is in the process of building a hospital, and he wants to work there.  But he needed some exposure to what life is really like as an electrician at a big hospital.”

Part of the Job Corp training program includes hands-on experience.  TMC is proud to be one of its newest partners, and provide students like Tsosie an opportunity to  gain this valuable real-life knowledge.  “We take being a community hospital very seriously.  These kids are trying to make their lives better for themselves.  We were impressed by the program, and I’m glad that we have the ability to help these students out on-site,” said Derrell Blair, TMC Plant Services Operations Manager.

The program was brought to Blair’s attention by TMC Plant Operator Mark Alonzo, who completed the program back in 1995.  “It was a great benefit for me,” Alonzo said.  “It helped me with vocational training, but other areas of my life as well, including public speaking.   Job Corps helped me gain self-confidence.  For me, it was better than college.”  Alonzo started at TMC as a housekeeper five years ago, worked in maintenance, and is now working in the power plant.  “The training they gave me back then really paid off in the long run.  The stuff I learned in Job Corps helped me advance in this organization to where I am now,” he said.  “I wanted to bring the program here as a way to pay it forward.”

TMC Electrician Dave Hughes with Channing Tsosie

TMC Electrician Dave Hughes with Channing Tsosie

Tsosie just wrapped up an internship he started at TMC around Thanksgiving in which he would shadow a TMC electrician three days a week.  “Our electricians don’t do just electrical work,” said Blair.  “They do a little bit of everything.  We wanted Channing to understand that just because you’re an electrician at a hospital doesn’t mean you’re doing electrical work for eight hours a day – you’re doing a little bit of everything.  We wanted to expose him to the real world.”

“My time at TMC has been really exciting,” said Tsosie.  “I received experience here that will absolutely help me in the future.  Job Corps has changed my life by helping me gain my work experience, and improve my communication.  I’m looking forward to using all of this information back home,” he said.

A handful of other Job Corps students are now preparing to spend some time at TMC.  “We will absolutely continue to partner with this program.  It was great to see Channing trying to do better in his life, and take the skills he learned here back to his community hospital.  It’s a small way we can give back,” said Blair.

Please click here to see KVOA News 4 Tucson’s coverage of the story.
Please click here to see KGUN 9 On Your Side’s coverage of the story.

Inspirational journey brings Honduran girl to TMC operating room

They say ‘laughter is the best medicine.’

Silvia in Honduras

Silvia in Honduras

So it’s no wonder 14-year-old Silvia is doing remarkably well as she recovers from major spine surgery she had done at TMC.  The Honduras native is described as “the most energetic, outgoing person you will ever meet.”  She has an infectious giggle that fills the house of her host family – a house that has been her home for the past three months.  Silvia suffered from a severe case of scoliosis and required a spinal fusion with a rod placement, but didn’t have access to the treatment in Honduras.  Her widowed mother, who sells bread for a living, didn’t have the money or access to seek out the medical attention her daughter so desperately needed.

Healing the Children (HTC) is a nonprofit charitable organization that helps underserved children throughout the world secure urgently needed medical assistance they otherwise are unable to obtain.  As part of the program, Silvia was flown to Arizona in October 2013 along with another little girl named Doris who underwent a similar surgery at a Phoenix area hospital.  The girls bonded with their host family, the Shoemakers, for a few weeks before their operations. 

Silvia with the Aston, Bryton & Caelyn Shoemaker

Silvia with the Aston, Bryton
& Caelyn Shoemaker

Leah and Dave Shoemaker both work full time in addition to raising their three young children, 9-year-old Aston, 4-year-old Bryton, and 2-year-old Caelyn.  As you can imagine, it was a huge adjustment for all involved.  The dynamics of the house changed instantly.  “When they first came into our house, it was unbelievably difficult.  You want to do everything you can to make them feel welcome.  But it’s amazing how quickly everyone adjusts,” said Leah. 

“Silvia lives with her 1-year-old niece and 3-year-old nephew in Honduras, so she was used to having little kids around, and was very helpful around the house.  She was very eager to blend in with our family,” said Leah.  One little problem, however – the language barrier.  Silvia speaks Spanish, and speaks very fast.  Leah admits her Spanish is rusty at best.  “My Spanish has gotten better, and she has learned to speak slower, so we’re finally at a point where she finishes my sentences,” she laughed.  “Silvia has become part of our family.”

Lizeth Silva-Carrazco, TMC Medical Interpreter/Translator and Keri Gerhart, TMC Child Life Specialist, work to make Silvia comfortable by helping her understand her surgery

TMC Medical Interpreter/Translator Lizeth Silva-Carrazco, and TMC Child Life Specialist Keri Gerhart work to make Silvia comfortable by helping her understand her surgery

Leading up to surgery day, Silvia was fearless – and incredibly grateful, almost as if she was on a mission to get better.  “The face-to-face medical interpreter at TMC was absolutely amazing and made all the difference for Silvia.  Everyone at TMC was extraordinarily welcoming.  They did everything they could to make Silvia comfortable, and they treated me as her mom,” said Leah.

Silvia was in TMC’s Pediatric Intensive Care Unit for five days following her surgery – something that was tough to prepare her for.  “Despite telling her ‘it’s going to hurt, you’re going to be sick’ – there really was no way to prepare her for that,” said Leah.

Dr. Luis Piedrahita from Tucson Orthopaedic Institute examines Silvia during an appointment

Dr. Luis Piedrahita from Tucson Orthopaedic Institute examines Silvia during an appointment

Silvia was fortunate to be under the care of Dr. Luis Piedrahita, an orthopaedic surgeon from Tucson Orthopaedic Institute.  “We are very fortunate to have one of the most advanced health care systems in the world,” he said.  “The great majority of the world population has access only to basic medical care.  Complex musculoskeletal problems are not treated and even ignored.  Usually very complex surgeries like this one can only be performed here because of the limitations of instrumentation and lack of postoperative care.  Bringing the patients here is the ideal thing to do, but requires a lot of non-medical work.  I was very pleased with how Healing the Children was able to accomplish this efficiently, and I look forward to continuing to provide my support in any way I can.”

Dr. Luis Esparza from Old Pueblo Anesthesia, was proud to be able to care for Silvia

Dr. Luis Esparza from Old Pueblo Anesthesia, was proud to be able to care for Silvia

Anesthesiologist Dr. Luis Esparza from Old Pueblo Anesthesia was asked to participate since he speaks Spanish, and could therefore help her feel a little more comfortable so far from home.  “I had the opportunity to be involved in providing care for her that she could never have obtained at home.  I think that we sometimes  lose sight of the fact that what seems routine to us can have such a huge impact on others.  Being involved in cases like hers helps to remind me of that.  I was happy to be part of the team that cared for her.”


A bright future ahead

The experience led to the creation of some big goals for Silvia.  She wants to learn English, move to America, become a nurse, and be able to support her family back home.  She knows that the one way to get there is through education. 

Silvia in Honduras

Silvia in Honduras

Silvia goes to school in Honduras, whereas most children do not.  During the three short months she was here, she made it clear – she wanted to go to school.  So, the Shoemakers enrolled her in Emily Gray Junior High.  “She found a bilingual student who has helped her quite a bit,” said Leah.  “She has really embraced this experience and wants to see everything America has to offer.”  At night, Silvia spends three to four hours figuring out her homework.

She even wrote a thank you note to TMC for giving her the surgery she needed.

Tucson family opens their hearts – and home

Leah Shoemaker’s inspiration to help children like Silvia stems from an experience involving one of her sons.  When Aston, who’s now 9 years old, was a toddler, he suffered his first seizure.  He was eventually diagnosed with a rare brain malformation and has since undergone three brain

Silvia wrote a thank you card to TMC for her surgery

Silvia wrote a thank you card to TMC for her surgery

surgeries.  “When something is wrong with your child, one of the things you want is control over the situation.  And you have none.  The other thing you really want is help,” she said.  “Throughout that process, I was just very happy that we have the care that we do in America.  When you’re in the hospital, and you’re reflecting on things, you realize that there are a lot of parents who don’t have that ability to help their child.  I couldn’t imagine anything worse than being in a country, having a sick child, and not being able to help them.  I wanted to help parents who don’t have the ability to help their children.  I’m not part of bringing these kids here.  I’m not on the surgical team.  But I know the pain the mom goes through, and I know the pain the child goes through.  And my family can help with that.”

Silvia with her host Mom, Leah Shoemaker

Silvia with her host Mom,
Leah Shoemaker

Many years ago, she read an article in People Magazine about organizations that help children like this.  It prompted her to do a little research, and make it happen.  She discovered the Arizona chapter of HTC, which is based out of Scottsdale.  Three years ago, they opened up their hearts and their home to a little girl from the Philippines who needed open heart surgery.  Hosting Silvia and Doris was a positive experience for their family, and they say they will without a doubt – do it again.  “The family thought it would be comforting for the girls to be together.  They are truly an incredible, loving family who have a special place in their hearts for our children,” said Kristin Matthews, President/Co-Director, HTC Arizona.  Since everything is charity based, host families don’t receive any reimbursement, making their commitment even more extraordinary. 

Silvia heads back to Honduras next week, but not without leaving her mark in the states.  “We will keep in touch with her forever,” said Leah.  “These kids become part of your family, and we will never forget them.”

Please click here to see KVOA News 4 Tucson’s coverage of the story.
Please click here to see KOLD News 13’s coverage of the story.
Please click here to see Univision Arizona’s coverage of the story.

Tucson Orthopaedic Institute surgeons team up with Operation Walk USA to change lives

Carlos Lopez Operation Walk USA patient

Carlos Lopez
Operation Walk USA patient

Recovering from major surgery isn’t something anyone looks forward to – unless you’re 49-year-old Carlos Lopez.  Lopez is home after spending the past few days in TMC’s new Orthopaedic and Surgical Tower.  For him, the recovery process means he’s finally received something he’s dreamed of for years – a new hip.

Lopez had been in excruciating pain since August 2009 when the father of four suffered an on-the-job injury.  He was a food service truck driver and was headed to Texas on Interstate 10 when a car slammed into his truck causing it to roll.  “I felt like I was in a tornado,” he said.  Lopez’s legs were pinned beneath the steering wheel, and he was trapped for about half an hour until emergency medical services arrived and cut him out of the wreckage.

Lopez's truck after the accident

Lopez’s truck after the accident

Lopez underwent therapy, but when he returned to work a month later, the pain continued.  He endured it for years until it finally forced him to quit in January 2012. “The pain was unbearable.  I would fall off the ramp at work and injure myself.  I was physically not able to do my job anymore.  Since my case had been closed, I was not eligible to receive any more help under worker’s comp,” Lopez said before his surgery.  “My legs are uneven because of the problem with my right hip, and my left leg being forced to compensate.  I live with constant, excruciating pain between my knee and hip.  I’ve developed a hernia from my injuries, as well as a back problem.”

Before his surgery, he walked with double canes for support.

Lopez is one of 10 patients from around Southern Arizona who received the joint replacement surgery they so desperately needed, but were unable to afford.  It’s all made possible thorugh a partnership between Tucson Medical Center and Operation Walk, a private, not-for-profit, volunteer medical services organization that provides free surgical treatment for patients who do not have access to life-improving care for debilidating bone and joint conditions.

The program was brought to TMC by orthopaedic surgeon Dr. Russell Cohen.  He was inspired by a trip he took to Vietnam as part of Operation Walk International.  “I was very moved by the gratitude people showed.  It’s a true honor to take care of those with no means to otherwise be helped.  I wanted to help those in need who live in our community,” said Dr. Cohen.

Four Tucson Orthopaedic Institute surgeons, including Drs. Cohen, Andrew Mahoney, John Wild, and Larry Housman, performed the surgeries on these patients in one day.  “It’s so gratifying to be able to help these people get back to doing what they love, without being in pain.  Some of these patients – through no fault o their own – had their lives turned upside down, and I am happy to be able to help them in this way.  It’s the right thing to do,” said Dr. Housman.

The patients meet medical guidelines, as well as financial poverty guidelines.

Carlos Lopez before surgery

Carlos Lopez
before surgery

“I feel so overwhelmed and blessed to be part of this program,” said Lopez.  “I truly consider it a miracle that I was selected.  I know the recovery process will be challenging, but I’m ready for it.  I will do whatever it takes to get back on my feet without my double canes.”

The program was the result of a well-coordinated effort by entire teams of people who made it possible.  The surgeons donated their time, as did anesthesiologists from Old Pueblo Anesthesia.  Hospitalists volunteered their time to care for these patients after their surgery.  Tucson Medical Center donated the space and necessary prescription medications.  Stryker Orthopaedics provided the joints, and Gentiva is providing free home health services to assist these patients during their recovery.

These patients receive top-notch care all the way through their recovery process – at no cost to them.

For patients like Lopez, this is just the beginning of a drastically improved quality of life.

TMC’s Mega Raffle making a difference – KOLD News 13 shares how TMC’s Hospital to Home program positively impacted a Tucson couple

KOLD News 13 recently aired a story about TMC’s Hospital to Home program, one of the many services proceeds from TMC’s Mega Raffle may benefit. The program helps patients transition from the hospital to home, where they’ll hopefully stay – so that they don’t have to come back to the hospital. Reporter Emily Turner talked with Ray and Sandy Lord about their experience, and how the program helped them avoid hiring a 24/7 nurse.

Hospital_Home

 

TMC’s Live Well recognized with “Process and Leadership” award

Last week, an award for Process and Leadership in Worksite Healthcare Promotion was presented to Judy Rich. The award was issued by the Wellness Council of Arizona and the National Partnership for Wellness in recognition for the work done this year with TMC’s new Live Well initiative.

Last spring, the leadership at Tucson Medical Center noted that chronic diseases make up a disproportionate amount of money that the hospital spends on employee health care.

So Rich issued a challenge. If employees could cut their health-care costs by a half million dollars, TMC would get an employee gym.

To support the employees in this endeavor, the TMC Live Well initiative began rolling out. The initiative, a robust program that is headed by a committee comprised on staff members across the hospital, supports employees in living a healthier lifestyle through various fitness activities, programs and incentives.  To date, employees can earn rewards for exercising, qualify for a 2012 health allowance and obtain free personal health coaching sessions for joining a 12-week fitness challenge.

The initiative has been very successful in a short amount of time. Employees have already cut health care costs by the half million dollars, and over 200 employees are currently participating in the pilot fitness challenge.

“Earning this award shows TMC’s long-time commitment to employee wellness as well as highlights recent initiatives to integrate wellness until TMC’s culture and benefits. This recognition would not be possible without the commitment from Executive Leadership and management. We are fortunate to work at a place that cares about our well-being,” says Senoir Benefits Analyst Andrea Lightfoot.

 


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