In the Papago Building at Tucson Medical Center, Tonya Swanson was gently hoisted off a gurney by a Hoyer lift and set into a warm bubble bath complete with soothing music, fresh-cut flowers and candlelight.
Swanson, 42, was admitted to TMC as a result of complications from metastasized breast cancer. Her mother had been caring for her at home, where Swanson has been bed-bound.
“I’ve been waiting for a month to take a bath,” she told the half dozen people assembled to help her.
Before being transferred from the acute-care unit to Peppi’s House, TMC’s inpatient hospice facility, Swanson expressed her wish to have a bath.
When Hospice staff heard her request, they jumped into action to make it happen.
“I can’t tell you how responsive everyone was,” said Amy Olson, RN. “We must have made 25 calls and not a single person said ‘no.’ ”
It was a true team effort.
Calls went out to Employee Health, which now occupies the building, to take over the bathroom with the appropriate equipment.
“John Corbit, our plumber, got the water working and got hot water to the bathroom for us,” said TMC Hospice manager, Kelly Oursler, RN. “This morning, early, he picked flowers on the campus and put them in a vase in the bathroom. He came back when she asked for more time and added more hot water to the tub.”
Derrell Blair and Jim Wellman from Plant Services coordinated getting the bathroom cleaned and in working order. Housekeeper Maria Parra de Ruiz made sure the bathtub sparkled, added flowers to the bouquet and laid out a lace tablecloth. Transporters Tyrell Hinzman and Dean Sandvold provided a smooth ride to and from building as well as ensuring a safe and comfortable transfer into and out of the tub. Hospice staff found bubbles, battery-powered candles and a fluffy pink towel.
Swanson, formerly a nanny, was all smiles as she sunk into the tub, the jet action creating an overflow of bubbles … and emotions.
“This is just the best thing that could have happened,” said Swanson, who stayed in the tub for more than an hour.
Outside the room, staff laughed and shed tears, knowing how much this meant to their patient.