La Loma University’s Motto: It’s Never Too Late to Learn

One of the Civil War classes offered by La Loma University.

One of the Civil War classes offered by La Loma University.

Urban coyotes can run up to 40 miles per hour and jump as high as 8 feet. These are just two of many facts that Arizona Game and Fish urban wildlife specialist Darren Julian shared in his urban wildlife class at La Loma University (LLU). The 31 students in the class hung on Julian’s every word and asked so many questions that the lecture ran 30 minutes over.

These students are not your typical undergrads and LLU is not your normal institution of higher learning. The students range from age 62 to 90-plus and La Loma University is a lifelong learning program largely started by residents of La Loma Village, a Sun Health-owned continuing care retirement community in Litchfield Park near Phoenix.

“Just like physical exercise is good for you, so is mental exercise,” resident Joe Schoggen says. The retired credit union executive and Navy admiral, also was a professor at the University of Kansas so he is well-acquainted with the power of learning, including lifelong learning.

In June 2014, Schoggen and 15 other La Loma Village residents and four staff members came together to discuss boosting learning opportunities on the La Loma Village campus, home to more than 175 residents.

Research shows that challenging our brain can help it function at its best and remain healthy longer, the classic “use it or lose it” school of thought. As preventive medicine physician and Masterpiece Living® President Dr. Roger Landry says, “Learning new things and keeping our level of brain activity up is a virtual fountain of youth.”

Fountain of youth or not, the LLU planners truly enjoyed learning new things and that was enough to spur them to start the university.

Their first order of business was developing a class schedule that would appeal to a broad base of residents at La Loma Village. After that came finding and recruiting experts to speak on the chosen topics and scheduling the talks.

The 2014 fall semester featured a “Great Courses” DVD series on the Civil War; a class about colorful characters from Arizona’s past;  a poetry class; a desert wildlife talk, and a series of classes led by teachers from ALLE Learning, a provider of lifelong learning services. Sun Health’s Community Education programs, focused on health topics, were also part of the curriculum.

Theresa Turpin serves on the planning committee and attends almost every class. “I’ve always been interested in learning new things and going to talks to hear interesting people,” she said.

Windy Hadley, a Life Enrichment program developer and unofficial “dean” of LLU, says each class draws from 30 to 40 students. Classes fill up fast and waiting lists are not unusual. She credits the resident planners for LLU’s popularity.

“The residents who helped plan the university have done a spectacular job,” Hadley said. “Their excitement and hard work have made it a success.”

The list of spring semester (2015) courses also included an assortment of topics. Students could learn about genealogy; biblical history; U.S.-Russia relations; the adaptations program at the Wildlife World Zoo and more.

The university operates with a small budget and classes are no cost or low cost. The LLU planners are already are charting the next semester with new and better offerings to stimulate the mind.

“We want people to keep challenging themselves mentally and to stay engaged with the world, but we want them to have fun while they are doing it,” Hadley said.

“It’s a great way to keep active,” Turpin said of LLU. “The more people get involved, the happier they will be.”

Sun Health Safety Program Recognized for Its ‘Stellar Record’

safety photoIn 2011, Sun Health Senior Living’s (SHSL) workers’ compensation costs were headed in the wrong direction, driven by higher than expected work injuries and claims.

As a result SHSL’s workers’ compensation insurance provider, CopperPoint Mutual, penalized the company with a 1 percent surcharge (roughly $17,000) on its premium

“We knew something needed to change,” Tony Nardi, SHSL director of Human Resources, said.

Change came in the form of a comprehensive safety and awareness campaign launched late in 2011 to improve worker safety and reduce workplace injuries.

Managers and supervisors came together to brainstorm solutions. They came up with the idea to conduct regular safety inspections in work areas other than their own, bringing a fresh set of eyes to the process. In addition, employees received extra training on safety and injury prevention.

SHSL contracted with TraCorp to set up web-based safety training, making it much easier for employees to complete their training. Safety was emphasized in staff meetings, in internal newsletters and in on-the-spot work activities, all of which led to improved compliance with training.

During the same time period, Sun Health implemented several measures to improve employee engagement by improving workplace communication and employee recognition. The new recognition program includes honors for employees who come up with new ideas to improve safety.

SHSL’s safety efforts began to bear fruit. Claims decreased by 66 percent and SHSL’s premium was reduced, resulting in in a 24 percent premium discount (a $60,000 savings).

CopperPoint named SHSL its “Safe Employer of the Month” for January 2015. The award recognizes a CopperPoint policyholder that demonstrates a “stellar record of workplace safety.”

“I have to give credit to our employees for making the difference, “Nardi said. “Our programs make employees more aware of unsafe practices. They prevent them. It’s best explained by our acronym for the safety program, SAFE, which stands for Safety Always Fosters Excellence.”

Sun Health Foundation Donors ‘Golf It Up’ for Charity

Jamie Okland - Sun Health Golf Fundraiser

Jamie Okland tees off at the Swinging in the Sun for Charity golf tournament benefiting Sun Health community wellness programs.

SURPRISE, ARIZ., March 12, 2015 –  A textbook Arizona spring day greeted more than 120 golfers who took to the Wigwam Arizona Patriot Golf Course in Litchfield Park on March 9 for a good cause.

The “Swinging in the Sun for Charity” tournament raised an estimated $50,000-plus for community wellness programs offered by Sun Health, most of which are provided at no or low-cost to the community.

Sun Health Foundation’s Annual Giving program manager and tournament coordinator Elizabeth Walton thanked the players, sponsors, volunteers and staff members who made the tournament a success.

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Sun Health Center for Health & Wellbeing Celebrates Its First Anniversary

SURPRISE, Ariz. – March 5, 2015 – Since its opening last March, the Sun Health Center for Health & Wellbeing has touched the lives of thousands of West Valley residents through health education and fitness classes, support groups and individual consultations designed to help them live longer, healthier lives.

Sun Health Center for Health & Wellbeing Anniversary InfographicOne of those lives is Diana (who asked that her last name be withheld), a 56-year-old Sun City resident whose physician gave her three months to lower her cholesterol  and  blood pressure or face taking medications to address her symptoms. Diana took several nutrition and exercise-related classes at the center and it paid off.

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Sun Health Offers Diabetes Self-Management Education Series

Diabetes imageSURPRISE, ARIZ., Feb. 25, 2015 – The Sun Health Center for Health & Wellbeing will offer an 8-week Diabetes Self-Management Education/Training (DSME) Program starting in mid-March at each of its three locations.

  • 8-Week DSME:  9 a.m., eight consecutive Mondays beginning March 16
    Sun Health Center for Health & Wellbeing,14260 Denny Blvd., Litchfield Park, 85340
  • 8-Week DSME, 1 p.m., eight consecutive Tuesdays beginning March 17
    Sun Health Center for Health & Wellbeing,14719 W Grand Avenue, Surprise, 85374
  • 8-Week DSME, 9 a.m., eight consecutive Wednesdays beginning March 18
    Sun Health Center for Health & Wellbeing, 13180 N 103rd Drive, Sun City, 85351

Sun Health’s DSME program, accredited by the American Association of Diabetes Educators, helps individuals with diabetes learn how to manage their disease through healthy eating, regular physical activity, medication management, problem-solving, coping skills, self-monitoring of blood glucose levels and preventing or managing diabetes-related complications.

The program is taught by a certified diabetes educator who also is a registered dietitian, and an exercise physiologist who also is a certified health coach. Instructors use evidence-based information, coaching and support to help individuals take control of their diabetes.

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New Memory Support Residence More Than Just A Pretty Place

Clarice Granz (seated) with daughter Jay Wenzel and granddaughter Samantha Wenzel.

SURPRISE, ARIZ. February 18, 2015 - Before agreeing to move to The Meadows, Sun Health Senior Living’s new memory support residence, Clarice Granz sought assurances from her daughter Jay Wenzel that her new digs would have bingo. “That’s my game,” Granz says.

The Meadows has bingo all right, and much more. The 16-suite residence for people with memory loss (Alzheimer’s and related dementias) opened in December, welcoming new residents into a setting that looks nothing like a traditional care center.

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‘Cardiac Kids’ Play Hardball Against Heart Disease

Bob Renberg and Sue Bromley at the 9th Annual Bill Bromley Memorial Cardiac Kids Softball Tournament.

Bob Renberg and Sue Bromley at 9th Annual Bill Bromley Memorial Cardiac Kids Softball Tournament.

SURPRISE, ARIZ., Feb. 13, 2015 – The distinctive “ping” of an aluminum bat striking a ball. Lively chatter laced with good-natured taunts. The rich baritone of the P.A. announcer. These were sounds that filled the air at the Feb. 7, Bill Bromley Memorial Cardiac Kids Softball Tournament, played under a cloudless azure sky at Liberty Buick Field in Sun City West.

The 50 or so players, all in their 60s or older, ribbed each other non-stop and clowned around on the field but there was a serious side to their antics. The players all share a history of heart problems and this was their ninth annual tournament to raise funds for cardiac research, in this case cardiac stem cell research at the Banner Sun Health Research Institute (BSHRI) in Sun City.
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Waiting until the last minute to do your Valentine’s Day Shopping?

The Gift Shops at Banner Boswell and Banner Del E. Webb Medical Centers are here to help you out! We are your one-stop shop for Cards, Candy, Flowers, Plush, Jewelry and much more! We accept cash, MasterCard/Visa, Discover, American Express and Payroll Deduction for Banner employees.

Gift Shop proceeds support orthopedic, cardiac & neurological programs at Banner Boswell Medical Center and Banner Del E Webb Medical Center. For more info, please call 623-832-7627, or visit

‘Our Neighbor Network’ Unveiled at Feb. 14 Open House

ONN-weblogoThe Sun City West Consortium, an organization comprised of 11 local organizations, has come together to form Our Neighbor Network, a one-stop resource for Sun City West residents seeking information about the community’s rich fabric of services.

Our Neighbor Network (ONN) will be unveiled at an open house,
9 to 11:30 a.m. Saturday, Feb. 14, in Palm Ridge Recreation Center, 13800 Deer Valley Drive. Area residents are encouraged to attend, enjoy refreshments and learn how ONN can help.

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Terminally Ill Cancer Patient Determined to Help Others Get Breast Cancer Screenings

Reba Mason and friendsSURPRISE, ARIZ., Feb. 4, 2015 – With fiery auburn hair, piercing eyes and a restless spirit bordering on impatience, Reba Mason personifies a Texas tornado.

The petite Texas native is on a whirlwind mission, funneling her energy into making women aware of the importance of getting regular screening mammograms, especially 3D mammograms, a significantly more accurate breast cancer detection method than 2D mammography.

But Mason hasn’t stopped there. Continue reading