The room that Tom built 

Family and friends honor physician's late father with a new palliative care suite 

When palliative medicine specialist Lindy H. Landzaat, DO, walks through the halls of Cambridge Tower A at The University of Kansas Health System, she thinks about her dad. He never had the chance to tour this beautiful building, but she knows it would make him proud – especially the new palliative care suite built in his honor.

Dr. Landzaat’s father, Thomas F. Huntington, was a native New Yorker who earned a bachelor’s degree in engineering from the Rochester Institute of Technology and a master’s degree in engineering from Syracuse University. Tom’s distinguished career in the heating, ventilation and air conditioning industry spanned more than 25 years and included positions at many well-known companies.

His last job was president and chief executive officer of WaterFurnace Renewable Energy in Fort Wayne, Indiana. Former chairman of the board Tim Shields said hiring Tom was one of the best decisions he ever made. “Tom treated everyone equally, with dignity and respect,” he said.

The people closest to Tom’s heart were his wife, Sue, and their three children. Daniel grew up to be an accountant and Adam is a major in the Kansas Air National Guard. For daughter Lindy, her career started with a science project in the seventh grade.

“After that, she wanted to be a doctor,” said her mom, Sue.

A doctor in the family
In 2009, Dr. Landzaat began practicing palliative care medicine at The University of Kansas Health System and was appointed to a faculty position at the University of Kansas School of Medicine. “Tom was so proud of Lindy’s achievements,” said Sue.

The physician’s expertise in palliative medicine would soon become more important to the family than they ever imagined. The same year she arrived at the health system, her father was diagnosed with prostate cancer.

Full circle
Throughout Tom’s treatment at The University of Kansas Health System, Dr. Landzaat saw the hospital through a patient’s eyes. “My dad received exceptional care in so many areas, including medical oncology, radiation oncology, urology, intensive care and infectious diseases,” she said.

Ultimately, Tom required assistance from Dr. Landzaat’s own palliative care team. Palliative care physicians and nurses help patients cope with serious illness. The goal is to manage symptoms and side effects so the patient and family can enjoy the highest quality of life possible.

For Dr. Landzaat, watching professionals she had trained help her father was truly special. “I felt that my life had come full circle,” she said.

Room for goodbyes
Near the end of Tom’s life, he moved to a local hospice facility. “Tom had a large, comfortable space that allowed extended family and friends to hang out together,” said Sue. “It was comfortable and more like home.”

After Tom passed away, his former boss Tim Shields joined with Tom’s wife and daughter to create a tribute to his life by funding a palliative care suite in Cambridge Tower A. The new suite is spacious and welcoming, with extra seating, a minifridge, microwave and other amenities.

“We wanted to make sure other families would have the best experience possible during such a difficult time,” said Sue.

Dr. Landzaat appreciates the generous contributions. “Everything aligns with this donation – my career, the hospital where my dad received care, the business he loved and his philosophy of caring for other people. In a way, he’s right here with me.”

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