Born three months early at 27 weeks, Tuff Oliaz earned his name because his parents knew he had to be tough as he was fighting for his life from the start. While mom Denise was intubated with COVID-19 pneumonia in 2021, Tuff was delivered via emergency c-section. Dad, Kyle, knew his family would need support to make it through this challenging time. That’s when the hospital connected the Oliaz’s with Southwest Human Development’s Smooth Way Home program. Thankfully, both Denise and Tuff are healthy and thriving now in part due to the care that the family received.

Eventually, Denise recovered from COVID-19 and was discharged but Tuff required a longer stay in the NICU. Each weekend the family would travel from Yuma to visit him. It was hard for Denise to leave her newborn after each visit. The guilt of not being there with Tuff and anxiety of not knowing if he would grow to be “normal” caused Denise to have significant postpartum. She turned to the Smooth Way Home team for support. Working with a Fragile Infant Specialist helped Denise to talk through her stress and feel more confident about how to parent him. She felt heard and was grateful to have someone who was there for her outside of her family.

Once Tuff was eventually able to come home, the family faced additional challenges because Tuff developed acid reflux, and they were running low on the formula that worked best for him. With formula shortages in full swing, Denise was anxious that she wouldn’t be able to get Tuff the nourishment he required. Again, the Smooth Way Home team stepped in to help and delivered the formula Tuff needed.


A year later, Tuff has grown from a calm, quiet baby into a rowdy and boisterous 14-month-old who enjoys cars, motorcycles, and riding his scooter.