Music therapist with Banner Hospice fulfills a musician's dream


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“You are an inspiration for someone
like me, who wants to play again
and keep going,” Pete told Music
Therapist Tammy Reiver.

A singer, songwriter, teacher and performer, Pete spent 60 years building a full life around music. Long suffering from congestive heart disease and related complications, at 81 years old, Pete finally transitioned from care at Banner – University Medical Center Phoenix to Banner Hospice. With a terminal diagnosis and having lost the physical ability to play his beloved accordion as well as his former independence, Pete was offered a priceless respite from his new reality in the form of music therapy.

With a last wish to play his instrument again, Pete’s dream was fulfilled through weekly sessions with Banner Hospice’s only music therapist, Tammy Reiver.

“He’d become so creative in the moment and seemed to forget about his pain,” Tammy said. “Once, he even exclaimed, ‘Playing again made me cry with excitement!’” Meanwhile, his wife Raye watched, Tammy recalled, "with eyes filled with tears of joy and love.” 

“Music is very powerful at the end,” Tammy explained. “It brings extra comfort to the patient whose body is preparing for death, while giving a sense of comfort to the family and caregivers who are grieving.”

Covering the entire Valley, Tammy provides music therapy for approximately 15 to 20 hospice patients each week. Over and over, she sees life made better for patients. Tammy also sees smiles from patients and an eager expectation for their next music therapy session.

Banner Health Foundation stewards donations to many deserving programs, such as Banner Hospice and its affiliated music therapy program, with resourcefulness and care. From providing financial assistance to cancer patients for services not covered by health insurance to support groups for entire families involved in the journey of a loved one with Alzheimer’s, philanthropy provides the “extras,” like music therapy, not typically covered by insurance. In fact, some services provided throughout the Banner Health system are funded entirely by charitable gifts.