Tag Archives: arizona

The Phoenician resort is nestled in the Sonoran Desert, with the breathtaking Camelback Mountain its backdrop. Photo: The Phoenician

Phoenician offers ‘Culinary Countdown’ summer dining series

The Phoenician, Arizona’s premier AAA Five Diamond destination, is making dining out even more appetizing this summer with its signature “Culinary Countdown” series.  From Monday, June 1, through Monday, August 31, 2015, three resort restaurants will offer select multi-course menus at exceptional prices:

• J&G Steakhouse ($40 per person) – The three-course dinner menu includes a choice of appetizer, entrée and dessert, featuring Cold Corn and Lemongrass Soup, Steamed Shrimp Salad or Heirloom Tomatoes; slowly cooked Salmon, Roasted Chicken or Prime Flat Iron Steak; as well as Raspberry and Rose Pavlova, Warm Chocolate Cake with Caramel Ice Cream, or an assortment of Sorbets and Ice Cream.  From 5-7 p.m. nightly, the restaurant will also offer 50 percent off all bottles of wine under $100.

• Il Terrazzo ($30 per person) – The three-course dinner menu offers a choice of Chilled Tomato & Crab Soup, Kale & Arugula Salad or Asparagus & Prosciutto for an appetizer; Eggplant Caponata, Olive Oil Poached Halibut or Pork Bistecca for an entrée; and a Cherry Torte, Vanilla Panna Cotta or Sorbets & Ice Cream for dessert.  Half-priced specialty cocktails complement each meal.

• Relish Burger Bistro ($20 per person) – The two-course lunch and dinner menu features a number of gourmet, American Kobe Burgers with crispy Tater Tots; followed by a Cookie Cup with Vanilla Bean Ice Cream or Apple Cobbler à la mode.  Special savings on draft beers and old-fashioned milkshakes are also offered.

For restaurant hours of operation and reservations, please call (480) 423-2530.

Located at the base of Camelback Mountain, the 250-acre Phoenician offers two exquisite experiences – a 583-room AAA Five Diamond luxury resort hotel and a 60-room, Forbes Five Star, AAA Five Diamond hotel, The Canyon Suites — at one magnificent destination.  Both The Phoenician and The Canyon Suites are owned and operated by Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, Inc., as part of The Luxury Collection. For additional information, please call (480) 941-8200; (800) 888-8234 or visit thephoenician.com and canyonsuites.com.

Vestar Development Investment

UMB Financial finalizes acquisition of Marquette

UMB Financial Corporation, a $16.7 billion diversified financial holding company, headquartered in Kansas City, Mo., has completed the acquisition of Marquette Financial Companies (MFC), a $1.4 billion financial-services company owned by the Pohlad family, in an all-stock transaction. With this deal, UMB has acquired 13 branches in Arizona and Texas, two national specialty lending businesses focused on asset-based lending and factoring as well as an asset management firm.

“This is an incredible time at UMB as we embark on a new and exciting chapter in our company’s history,” said Mariner Kemper, chairman and CEO, UMB Financial Corporation. “This acquisition has an immediate impact on our presence in two key growth markets for UMB – Arizona and Texas. In addition, the acquisition of two specialty lending businesses and an asset management firm expands our offerings and builds upon our existing commercial banking services through a national footprint.”

As part of this acquisition, the Phoenix-based Meridian Bank, n.a. and the Ft. Worth-based Meridian Bank Texas were merged into UMB Bank, n.a. The merger adds eight branches in the Phoenix area, with total assets of $745 million, net loans of $530 million and deposits of $584 million, as of March 31, 2015; and five branches in Ft. Worth, Dallas and Denton, Texas, with total assets of $442 million, net loans of $321 million and deposits of $384 million, as of March 31, 2015.

UMB also acquired Dallas-based Marquette Business Credit, which provides asset-based loans for working capital, recapitalization, growth and mergers and acquisitions; Marquette Transportation Finance, which provides accounts-receivable financing and factoring primarily for transportation businesses, and its division, Marquette Commercial Finance; and Marquette Asset Management, which provides private asset management to individuals, families and institutions, based in Minneapolis, Minn.

“The realization of this acquisition benefits our customers by combining the strength of our two companies and expands our services and product sets,” James O. Pohlad, chairman, Marquette Financial Companies. “We are pleased to continue our enduring commitment to serving our customers and the communities where we do business.”

RBC Capital Markets, LLC served as exclusive financial adviser to UMB. Sullivan & Cromwell and Holland & Hart served as legal counsel to UMB. D.A. Davidson served as exclusive financial adviser to MFC. Briggs and Morgan served as legal counsel to MFC.

energy policies

Solar and Other Ways to Save on Electricity Bills

In 2013, Arizona earned a new nickname -“the solar state”- by participating in heated debates regarding net metering and the growing solar electric industry. As expected, the utility companies put up a fight, which resulted in a minor victory allowing them to charge a small fee on new residential solar electric installations.

But the power companies cannot hold out forever, as solar power and other alternative sources of energy continue to gain popularity with consumers. Unfortunately there is still a long road ahead for everyone involved in solar power initiatives. Currently, Arizona Public Service Co. and others offer only a few renewable energy initiatives. To push the state from 2nd to 1st place in solar and renewable energy usage, utility companies should offer users the option to choose which percentage of their electricity is channeled from solar or wind energy, as opposed to other, nonrenewable sources. Many North American companies already do, and if consumers can find them — often through comparison websites — everybody wins.

Arizona has the sun to thank for its “solar state” title, but even if it’s a sunny day there’s still plenty you can do at home to pitch in, too. Take the first step and reevaluate the power usage within your own home. There are many new devices on the market that allow homeowners to track and discover just how much power is drawn from their electrical outlets, and adjust it accordingly. Not only will you discover which devices are “energy hogs”, and save money in the process, but you’ll reduce your home’s overall carbon emissions as well. Monitoring your home’s energy needs allows you to be a smarter, more environmentally friendly, consumer. Read on to learn more about the devices that can help you track your power consumption safely and easily:

TED Energy Detective: TED Energy Detective is one of the most highly comprehensive, and easily installable, energy monitoring systems. The product features a real-time display detailing exactly how many watts your home is using, with information on the hourly cost and continuous feedback on your energy use patterns. There are many versions and models of the TED home system, some of which come with their own wireless display, and others that are tracked using your mobile device or computer.

Google Nest Thermostat (Second Generation): There are smart thermostats, and then there are thermostats like the Nest. The Nest is more than programmable, it’s intuitive, which means that it will learn your schedule and program itself. An ordinary smart thermostat might remember to lower temperature control while residents are at work or school, but the Nest will go one step further and focus temperature control on the most used rooms, automatically adjust for sleeping temperatures. The device can even sense while you’re away on its own, due to the addition of a motion detector.

Eco-Friendly, Smart Appliances: For a while, energy efficient appliances were expensive and few and far between. Now, however, LG is one company that boasts an entire line of smart appliances. Examples include a smart refrigerator (the Smart ThinQ), an ultra-fast, eco-friendly washing machine, and a washing machine with Wi-Fi Smart Diagnosis (the Smart ThinQ Washer, which would reserve energy-intense cycles for off-peak hours, for example). LG isn’t the other company investing in the eco-trend, either. Energy Star certified appliances are available through almost every major preferred company or brand.

Power Adaptors and Smart Power Strips: Perhaps the most well-known and easiest tools to apply are power adapters, like those created by the company Green Plug, which limit the amount of energy over-charging consumer devices. If Green Plug’s adapters are in use, the supply of energy will be cut off after the device has received all the energy it needs to charge and operate. Likewise, smart power strips will limit any “vampire” charges sucked from appliances left plugged in.

iTech SolarCharger 906: Solar panels and solar technology at home is already popular in Arizona – but what about on the go? The iTech SolarCharger is just one option that allows electronics to be charged with the power of the sun. The iTech SolarCharger does take about 22 hours to power up (perhaps leave it on the deck on weekend day, but once it does it can easily charger phones and other electronics. The tool even comes with various adaptors, so homeowners don’t have to give up their solar preferences on the go.

While we wait for solar energy to be a cheaper, more feasible option on a large scale basis, there are many ways to cut down on electricity costs are home. A good energy monitoring system will make you aware of the need to conserve our energy resources. The accurate digital displays of the products listed above (and others) will give you new insight into how much electricity you consume, and where you can cut back each month.

QC1

Rainbow Ryders inducted into Trip Advisor’s ‘Hall of Fame’

Rainbow Ryders Hot Air Balloon Ride Company announced that it has been recognized as a TripAdvisor® Certificate of Excellence Hall of Fame winner, after being named a Certificate of Excellence Award Winner for five consecutive years. The Certificate of Excellence award celebrates excellence in hospitality and is given only to establishments that consistently achieve great traveler reviews on TripAdvisor. Winners include accommodations, eateries and attractions located all over the world that have continually delivered a superior customer experience.

“We strive to give our customers a unique Bucket List experience,” said Scott Appelman, President of Rainbow Ryders Hot Air Balloon Ride Company. “What is so meaningful about this recognition is that is customer driven, and is a huge validation of the entire team here at Rainbow Ryders.”

“Winning the TripAdvisor Certificate of Excellence for five consecutive years is a remarkable feat. TripAdvisor is pleased to induct five-time award winners into the ‘Hall of Fame’,” said Marc Charron President, TripAdvisor for Business. “By putting a spotlight on businesses that are focused on consistently delivering great service to customers, TripAdvisor not only helps drive an improvement to hospitality standards around the world, it also gives businesses both large and small the ability to shine and stand out from the competition.”

When selecting Certificate of Excellence winners, TripAdvisor uses a proprietary algorithm to determine the honorees that takes into account the quality, quantity and recency of reviews and opinions submitted by travelers on TripAdvisor over a 12-month period as well as business’s tenure and ranking on the Popularity Index on the site.  To qualify, a business must maintain an overall TripAdvisor bubble rating of at least four out of five, have a minimum number of reviews and must have been listed on TripAdvisor for at least 12 months.

healthcare

NextCare acquires Troyer Urgent Care, Chino Valley center

NextCare Urgent Care – the nation’s largest privately held provider of urgent care medicine – announces the acquisition of Troyer Urgent Care centers in Flagstaff and Lake Havasu City, and Chino Valley Medical Center in Chino Valley. No other urgent care provider operates more clinics in Arizona than NextCare, which now manages 35 locations within the state.

With the addition of these three clinics, the brand’s locations span from Flagstaff in northern Arizona to Tucson in southern Arizona, across metro-Phoenix, and to Lake Havasu City in the west, allowing NextCare to provide services to over 90 percent of the state’s population.

“NextCare is very proud to provide services throughout the state of Arizona,” said John Julian, CEO of NextCare Holdings, Inc. “No other urgent care provider even comes close to covering the geography that we can through our locations. Providing high quality care in each and every one of the communities we serve has always been and will continue to be our goal.”

 

Notably, the Chino Valley center – in addition to urgent care services – will also continue to provide primary care services to its patients.

NextCare Holdings, Inc. is actively expanding in new and existing markets, having opened/acquired 23 clinics across the U.S. in the last 12 months alone. Currently operating in 11 states, the company plans to open several new clinics and continue its rapid expansion through acquisitions in the coming weeks and months.

Abrazo Arrowhead Campus

Abrazo Health unveils new name, stepped up investment

Abrazo Health is now Abrazo Community Health Network.

More than simply a new name, the change reflects Abrazo’s philosophy of embracing patients with the compassion of a friend while delivering best-in-class care at an expansive network of six acute-care hospitals, emergency centers, urgent care centers, primary practices and specialty practices.

“There has been a surge of news about hospital system mergers, acquisitions and name changes locally and across the nation,” said Michele Finney, Abrazo Community Health Network’s market CEO. “What makes our announcement different is our transformative vision to shape health care in Arizona.”

Along with the system name change come changes to Abrazo’s hospital and emergency center names: 

• Abrazo Community Health Network (formerly Abrazo Health)

• Abrazo Arizona Heart Hospital (formerly Arizona Heart Hospital), 1930 E. Thomas Road, Phoenix.

• Abrazo Arrowhead Campus (formerly Arrowhead Hospital), 18701 N. 67th Ave., Glendale.

• Abrazo Central Campus (formerly Phoenix Baptist Hospital), 2000 W. Bethany Home Road, Phoenix.

• Abrazo Maryvale Campus (formerly Maryvale Hospital), 5102 W. Campbell Ave., Phoenix.

• Abrazo Scottsdale Campus (formerly Paradise Valley Hospital), 3929 E. Bell Road, Phoenix.

• Abrazo West Campus (formerly West Valley Hospital), 13677 W. McDowell Road, Goodyear.

• Abrazo Emergency Center Buckeye (formerly West Valley Emergency Center), 525 S. Watson Road, Buckeye.

• Abrazo Emergency Center Peoria, (formerly North Peoria Emergency Center), 26900 N. Lake Pleasant Parkway, Peoria.

 Abrazo means embrace, “and that’s just what we do every day to help patients understand and take control of their health,” said Dr. William Ellert, Abrazo’s chief medical officer. “We view our role not only to care for our patients at our network of facilities, but also to teach our community a different – and healthier – way of life.”

Abrazo Community Health Network also is embracing the future of health care in Arizona by expanding the depth and breadth of its resources.

Since 2014, Abrazo has invested $100 million in new technologies to allow for better integration of medical records. Abrazo Arrowhead Campus expanded its advanced cardiovascular programs. Abrazo Central Campus became the only Arizona hospital to have the BrainPath system enabling minimally invasive surgery to remove deep brain tumors, and recently opened an acute rehabilitation unit.

Last year, Abrazo West Campus also opened the only Level 1 Trauma Center serving the burgeoning West Valley. Abrazo Maryvale Campus is developing new behavioral health services and Abrazo Scottsdale Campus will be expanding orthopedic surgery services.

There are more changes coming, according to Finney. “In the months ahead, we will be expanding our ambulatory footprint to include urgent care centers and outpatient centers, too,” she said.

Young girl's hand touches and holds an old woman's wrinkled hands.; Shutterstock ID 115740043; PO: 47953; Other: Public Affairs

Arizona Oncology now offers palliative care in Tucson

Arizona Oncology, a leader in community based cancer care and a practice in The US Oncology Network, is now offering palliative care to patients in Tucson and southern Arizona.

Palliative care nurse practitioners, Kathy Kennel, MSN, FNP-C, ACHPN, and Shari Beauregard, MSN, RN, ANP-BC, ACHPN, work closely with a multi-disciplinary team of medical professionals to coordinate patient care at all stages of illness. Arizona Oncology’s goal is to assist patients and their families in making informed decisions about care and treatment so they can remain independent and live a full life. The palliative care nurse practitioners can provide help and emotional support to patients and their families when they are faced with difficult medical decisions, as well as to family members managing the extra responsibilities of caring for a relative who is ill. They assist in establishing individualized plans of care, provide support for complex pain and symptoms, and work with patients and their families on their psychosocial and spiritual needs.

Beauregard, a cancer survivor, knows first-hand about coping with a serious illness. As a teenager, she spent months in the hospital fighting the disease. “I understand what it’s like to be in the hospital for a long time. I understand the hard road patients and families must face,” said Beauregard.

After caring for and losing both of her parents to cancer, Kennel shares, “They are my inspiration and motivation to make a positive difference in patients’ lives every day.”

The benefits of palliative care will help patients to improve their quality of life, reduce anxiety, depression, and pain, understand difficult and complex treatment choices, increase their confidence in navigating care, decrease hospital admissions, readmissions, and emergency room visits, and increase life expectancy.

“We are not end of life people; we are quality of life people,” explains Beauregard.

For more information about the palliative care program at Arizona Oncology or to make an appointment, call 888-972-CURE.

technology

Tech Council reports shows strong results for sector

Recapping a year of strong results, the Arizona Technology Council has issued an inaugural annual report detailing its role as the state’s voice for technology and the driving force behind the effort to make Arizona the fastest growing tech hub in the nation. The full report can be viewed or downloaded at www.aztechcouncil.org.

“This report crystalizes how strategic elements that we have honed for years contribute to a healthy, vibrant technology sector throughout Arizona and around the world,” said Steven G. Zylstra, president and CEO of the Arizona Technology Council. “Fueled by a passion for technology, we are leading the effort to meet the future needs of the industry through the development of technical talent, increased access to risk capital, the support of a healthy ecosystem and connectivity across all constituents.”

The Council’s strategy is grounded in the belief that the future of technology in Arizona is based on the industry’s ability be future-ready. The report clearly states the progress the Council has made as it delivers on what members expect from their association: industry leadership that connects, empowers and grows Arizona’s technology community.

The report details the Council’s strongest financial performance to date, with the net addition of more than 80 new members in 2014. Two new Business Essentials platforms also were introduced: a pooled-risk, self-insured medical insurance program, and a 401(k) retirement plan for all member companies. In addition, the year was marked by the Council’s stand against Senate Bill 1062 as it assembled 120 CEOs to sign a letter to the governor successfully petitioning for the bill’s veto—an effort recognized with three leadership awards. These and numerous other accomplishments outlined in the document are being leveraged to capitalize on the unique position the Council has created and deliver even more value to its members and the technology industry at-large in years to come.

burro

Increase in wild burros threaten Arizona native habitats

Arizona Game and Fish says the increasing number of wild burros in the state is damaging native habitats. The agency wants the federal government to control them before the problems gets worse.

Arizona Game and Fish said wild burro population is growing at such an alarming rate that they are damaging natural habitats and crowding out native species. There are more than 1,600 wild burros in the Black Mountains near Bullhead City. That’s almost four times the federal limit. Game and Fish’s Bill Andres said that’s just in one area of the state.

“Not only are the burros in areas where they have historically been, but the population of burros is growing so much that they are outside of the herd management areas,” Andres said. “We’re getting reports from other partners like the National Forest Service that they’re seeing burros in places where they’ve never been seen before.”

The Bureau of Land Management said it’s conducting an assessment of Arizona’s burro population. BLM’s Dennis Godfrey said solving the problem is not as easy as it seems.

“We’re dependent on funding,” Godfrey said. “We’re dependent on authority from our Washington office on the number of gathers we can conduct and how many animals we can gather. There are those that would prefer that we gather no burros, that they remain to be in place in where they are and let nature take its course.”

Godfrey said the assessment is expected to be completed in late October, with a potential new burro gathering in 2016.

FirstBank opened a new branch at the corner ofScottsdale Road and Pinnacle Peak on May 13th and will host aribbon cutting on May 28

FirstBank expands with North Scottsdale branch

FirstBank Holding Company, a holding company with multiple banking locations throughout Arizona, announced the opening of its newest branch in north Scottsdale at 23399 N. Scottsdale Rd., Ste. E101, Scottsdale, AZ 85255.  The major cross streets are Scottsdale Road and Pinnacle Peak.  The 4,000 square-foot location officially opened on May 13th and marks FirstBank’s 16th branch in Arizona.  The Colorado-based bank now has 123 branches nationwide. 

To celebrate its opening, the public is invited to attend a ribbon cutting on Thursday, May 28 at 5:30 pm.  Appetizers and beverages will be served, and there will be giveaways including a chance to win cash prizes.  The Scottsdale Chamber of Commerce, of which FirstBank’s Metro Phoenix President Bryce Lloyd is currently the Board Chairman, will be part of the ribbon cutting event.  The Mayor and Scottsdale City Council members have also been invited to attend.

“FirstBank’s rapid growth throughout Phoenix has been very exciting and we’re proud to add another Scottsdale location and to play an active role and make a positive impact within our local community,” said Bryce Lloyd, President – Phoenix Market.  “Since we entered the Phoenix market eight years ago, we have worked hard to become a resource to individuals, families, businesses and non-profits across Arizona.  Adding this new branch in north Scottsdale helps us expand that footprint to become an even greater resource to our customers.”

In its short history in Arizona, FirstBank has repeatedly shown its commitment to community involvement.  The commitment has been again demonstrated in just the last few months by its recent donation as the presenting sponsor of Arizona Gives Day, which raised over $2 million for Arizona non-profits in one day.  In addition, FirstBank made a $1 Million community development investment with Trellis (formerly Neighborhood Housing Services of Phoenix), an organization dedicated to making financially stable homes, neighborhoods and communities possible in Maricopa County.

elder

Arizona ranks No. 22 for senior health

Arizona ranked No. 22 for senior health this year, according to the third edition of United Health Foundation’s America’s Health Rankings® Senior Report: A Call to Action for Individuals and Their Communities.

Nationwide, the report shows positive trends for senior health, especially for those measures that look at whether seniors are getting the right care in a setting of their choice. Seniors are experiencing lower hospital readmission rates and preventable hospitalization rates compared to last year, while hospice care use and the number of home healthcare workers have increased.

“United Health Foundation’s America’s Health Rankings Senior Report is a vital tool for understanding where we, as a state, are making strides in senior health and where key challenges for Arizona’s seniors remain,” said Thomas Biuso, MD, market medical director, UnitedHealthcare in Arizona. “With America’s senior population poised to double by 2050, we must continue to invest in programs and solutions that address our seniors’ health needs and help them live the best lives they possibly can.”

Arizona’s Overall Health

The America’s Health Rankings Senior Report finds that Arizona has its share of strengths and challenges.

Arizona’s Strengths

  • Low prevalence of obesity: Arizona ranks 5th in the U.S. with 23.2 percent of adults over age 65 considered obese.
  • High hospice care use: Arizona ranks first in the country for hospice care use, with more than 65 percent of decendents aged 65 who received hospice care in the last six months of life.
  • High health status: Arizona ranks 7th, with 46.5 percent of the senior population in very good or excellent health.

Arizona’s Challenges

  • High prevalence of chronic drinking: More than 4 percent of the senior population reports chronic drinking, ranking Arizona 37th in the U.S.
  • Low volunteerism: Less than 20 percent of Arizona seniors volunteer, ranking Arizona 45th.
  • Low percentage of seniors with dedicated provider: More than eight percent of the senior population does not have a dedicated health care provider, ranking Arizona 42nd.

50-State Snapshot: Vermont is the Healthiest State for Seniors

According to the report, Vermont is the healthiest state for seniors, rising from fourth place last year. New Hampshire ranks second, improving one spot from last year. Minnesota fell to third after being ranked first for two years in a row, while Hawaii (4) and Utah (5) round out the top five states. Louisiana HHLaouLranks 50th as the least healthy state for older adults, followed by Mississippi (49), Kentucky (48), Arkansas (47) and Oklahoma (46).

To see the Rankings in full, visit: www.americashealthrankings.org/senior

valley forward receives grant

Nonprofits can apply for $10K Cox Charities grants

Cox Charities is asking  Arizona non-profits that focus on K-12 youth and education programs to submit proposals for grants valued at $10,000 or less. This year’s grant cycle will close June 3. The grant application can be found online at www.azfoundation.org/grants.

In 2014, Cox Charities distributed nearly $715,000 to 91 youth and education-focused nonprofits across the state. Cox Charities funds are raised through employee-driven fundraisers and personal contributions throughout the year, as well as community fundraising partnerships. Since its inception in 1996, Cox has awarded more than $5 million in grants to non-profit organizations for youth education programs that help build our next generation of community leaders.

Over the past 18 years, Cox Charities has funded local non-profits that focus on  science and technology, arts and culture, safe and healthy lifestyles, overcoming disabilities, mentoring, literacy, leadership development, social skills development, and other areas benefiting youth in Southern Arizona.

“Cox Charities is committed more than ever before to supporting our community’s children by funding youth and education-focused non-profits that provide vital programming. As we have for many years, Cox Charities supports the communities in which we do business,” said Susan Anable, vice president of public affairs, Cox Communications. 

Additional support is given to these communities through volunteerism by Cox employees.  Last year, one-third of Cox Arizona employees participated in the Cox Volunteers program, logging 32,000 volunteer hours.  In an effort to be the most trusted provider of communication and entertainment services, Cox supports Cox Charities grant recipients by encouraging Cox employees to volunteer time in support many past recipients such as the Phoenix Zoo, Boys & Girls Clubs, Childhelp, HandsOn Greater Phoenix, the Make a Wish Foundation, Homeward Bound to name a few. 

Funding will not be awarded for capital expenditures or general operations, or for the provision of healthcare/therapy services, basic needs, entertainment, or socialization/recreation programs. Funding will also not be awarded to pass-through organizations raising funds on behalf of other agencies.

Mark Boisclair Photography, Inc.

Westin Phoenix Downtown offers summer packages

The_Westin_Phoenix_Downtown_HotelLocated in the revitalized urban core of downtown Phoenix, and conveniently situated near Chase Field, US Airways Center, CityScape, and numerous venues, theatres and museums, The Westin Phoenix Downtown now offers the perfect package for a refreshing summer getaway.

HOME RUN

The boys of summer are back and The Westin Phoenix Downtown has the ideal package for enjoying an Arizona Diamondbacks’ home game. The Home Run Package has seasonal rates starting at $94 and includes:

  • Complimentary valet parking (reg. $29/day)
  • Complimentary internet access in guest room
  • Kids under 12 eat free at Province with purchase of adult meal

The Westin Phoenix Downtown is conveniently located less than one mile from Chase Field, the home field for the Arizona Diamondbacks.

This package is based on availability for stays through Oct. 5, 2015. To reserve your stay, call (866) 716-8137 and mention rate plan LKPKG, or book online: www.westinphoenixdowntown.com.

DOWNTOWN FUN

Downtown Phoenix has become a focal point for entertainment in the Valley. Whether attending a play, museum exhibit, concert, sporting game or another exciting event, The Westin Phoenix Downtown’s is just steps away. The hotel’s Downtown Fun entertainment package has seasonal rates starting from $99 and includes:

  • Overnight hotel parking
  • Two Valley METRO light rail passes, per stay
  • Two cocktails of choice in Province restaurant, per stay

The Westin Phoenix Downtown is at the Central and Van Buren Valley METRO light rail station, so getting to and from downtown entertainment options is eco-friendly and hassle-free.

This package is based on availability for stays through Dec. 31, 2015. To reserve your stay, call (866) 716-8137 and mention rate plan LUPKG, or book online: www.westinphoenixdowntown.com.

college graduates

Arizona invests $1 billion in college savings

The Arizona Family College Savings (529) Program has officially surpassed $1 billion in assets. This major milestone comes just 16 years after the first account was opened in 1999. Today the program comprises more than 75,000 savings accounts intended for the college expenses of future students. The Arizona Family College Savings Plan is a state sponsored 529 plan designed to provide a parent, grandparent or future student an opportunity to save for educational expenses in a tax-deferred manner. Additionally, no taxes are paid on account earnings when savings are used for qualified college expenses. The State of Arizona also provides an annual Arizona state income tax deduction for 529 plan contributions of up to $2,000 for individual tax filers, and up to $4,000 for married couples filing jointly.

“We are thrilled to have reached this important milestone and look forward to seeing the results of the first billion dollars in terms of college degrees,” said Dr. April Osborn, Executive Director for the Arizona Commission for Postsecondary Education. “According to research by the Center for Social Development, children with any college savings are six times more likely to attend a four-year college than children with no dedicated college savings account. A 529 plan is truly one of the best investments a family can make for their child’s future.”

The State of Arizona offers one of the most diversified 529 plans in the country with a wide variety of choices offered through three well-respected financial institutions: College Savings Bank, Fidelity Investments and Ivy Funds InvestedEd. Investment options include various CD’s, advisor-sold and direct-sold mutual funds, index funds, age-based portfolios and customized strategies. A 529 plan can be opened with as little as $15 per month and savings can be used at most accredited institutions anywhere in the United States and abroad.

The Arizona Family College Savings Program is a Section 529 College Savings Plan sponsored by the State of Arizona through the Arizona Commission for Postsecondary Education. To learn more, call 602-528-2435 or visit AZ529.gov.

prevention trial - brain scan images

Barrow Neurosurgical Associates appoints new CEO

Kinna_John 150515_v1Barrow Neurosurgical Associates (BNA), the largest physician-owned neurosurgical and spine practice in Arizona, has appointed John Kinna as Chief Executive Officer.

“Kinna brings strong leadership skills and the experience and knowledge necessary to help Barrow Neurosurgical Associates achieve success,” said Robert Spetzler, MD, president of BNA. “He will help us aim to position ourselves as the world-class model for excellence in neurosurgery and advanced spine care through our commitment to sound and innovative medical practice, a profound dedication to our patients, and our affiliation with Barrow Neurological Institute,” he continued.

 Kinna, a seasoned healthcare leader with more than 27 years of experience in medical group practice leadership and management of multi-specialty groups for free-standing and integrated healthcare delivery systems, offers a unique perspective and relatable approach to internal and external stakeholders alike.

 “I am excited, humbled and honored to be a part of the Barrow Neurosurgical Associates team and bring my experience to the competitive Arizona market,” said Kinna. “The reputation of this remarkable group of world-renown surgeons will allow us to change more lives by further expanding the awareness of their tremendous skill, revolutionary techniques and technologies, as well as their deeply compassionate approach to patient care.”

 Before joining Barrow Neurosurgical Associates, Kinna was the Director of Provider and Institutional Provider Programs at Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Montana. He also served as the Director of the St. Vincent Physician Network, a 165 physician multi-specialty group in Billings, MT, and the Vice President of Physicians Services with the Providence, St. Mary Medical Center in Walla Walla, WA. Spetzler explains that Kinna has a unique understanding of the communities BNA serves on a local, national and global level.

  “Bringing John to our specialty practice was the best choice we have made at BNA,” said Nicholas Theodore, MD, neurosurgeon at BNA. “While the board considered several good candidates during our nationwide search, John demonstrated the talent, experience, and personable approach we believe it needed to accomplish our mission.  He was the clear choice for CEO.”

 

Kinna is a member of the Medical Group Management Association as well as the Arizona Medical Group Management Association.  He has served as the President and Past President of the Montana MGMA.  John grew up in Fairfield, MT, and attended Montana State University in Bozeman earning a degree in Physical Education/Health Management as well as earning a Master’s degree in Healthcare Administration from Kennedy-Western University. John is an avid outdoorsman and enjoys spending time with his family.

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Silicon Valley’s Wasabi Ventures heads to Scottsdale

Wasabi Ventures, an early stage venture capital firm, announced today the formal launch of its operations in Arizona. After a nine-month due diligence process, Arizona was selected as the most promising location for a new office by the bi-coastal firm that has existing offices in Silicon Valley, Greater Boston, and Baltimore.

“We see great potential in the Arizona ecosystem,” said Wasabi Ventures General Partner Tom “TK” Kuegler. “The combination of strong universities, visionary government leadership, plus an active and increasingly cohesive ecosystem full of strong talent gives us great confidence that the Silicon Desert is a great place to be. We are committed to be an active contributor to building that ecosystem, and will do that in partnership with some of the leading actors in the space across the state. We plan to start 20 companies in Arizona in the next 24 months, and will run cohorts in Flagstaff, Phoenix and Tucson.” Kuegler participated in Startup Week Phoenix and sponsored Invest Southwest’s Venture Madness, while General Partner Chris Yeh covered Startup Weekend Tucson, as demonstration of the firm’s commitment to the ecosystem.

Wasabi’s principal office will be based in Scottsdale, at Deskhub, an innovative co-working space located at 4900 North Scottsdale Road, suite 400, and run by CEO Jay Chernikoff and Community Manager Gabe Gasca.  Chernikoff said, “Wasabi Ventures’ decision to open up shop in Phoenix is a reflection of the strong and growing tech scene in Phoenix and across Arizona.  We are pleased to host them and look forward to collaborating in offering regular programming to the community. We are delighted to begin this partnership and expand it to San Diego in coming months.”  Wasabi will host a launch party in the valley at Deskhub on Thursday, June 4th, from 5:30-8:30pm, where the firm will be announcing its plans to form a cohort in Phoenix, commencing in July.  Interested applicants are invited to apply now at www.academy.wasabiventures.com

Wasabi Ventures is providing venture acceleration support services to startups selected as part of the Furnace Technology Transfer Accelerator program.

Wasabi’s operations in Tucson commenced in early May in partnership with Startup Tucson and Innovate UA.  Justin Williams, CEO of Startup Tucson and Executive Director of Innovate UA, said, “ Wasabi Ventures’ focus on the individual entrepreneur, combined with the extensive free educational offering made available through the Wasabi Ventures Academy, nicely complements our existing offerings and fits the Tucson ecosystem very well.  The fact that they like to play as a co-founder at the very early stage fills an important gap, and makes them an ideal partner to Tucson entrepreneurs.”  One team from this introductory cohort is guaranteed to receive the backing of Wasabi Ventures as a cofounder of its new startup.  Wasabi Ventures will also offer regular programming in Tucson, open to the public, from a base at Startup Tucson’s Co-lab incubator facility.  A launch party in Tucson will take place on Wednesday, June 3rd, at 6:00 pm, at Ermano’s Craft Beer & Wine Bar, in conjunction with Startup Tucson’s June Startup Drinks.

In Northern Arizona, the firm has partnered with the Northern Arizona Center for Entrepreneurship and Technology, which runs programs in Flagstaff, Prescott and Maricopa. CEO Annette Zinky said, “NACET is thrilled to partner with Wasabi Ventures to form a Northern Arizona cohort to participate in their Startup Foundations program, starting in July. This will allow us to focus the direction and increase the momentum of the strong mix of ideas, passion and talent already present in the region. Wasabi Ventures’ decision to offer services here validates what we already knew: that Northern Arizona is a great place for startups.”  Wasabi Ventures will celebrate its launch in Northern Arizona concurrent with the launch of NACET’s new accelerator facility, where from which it will also offer regular programming, on or around July 21st, and the first cohort will run through Startup Weekend Flagstaff, concluding on October 9-11th, 2015.

Startup Foundations is a 13-week education program for entrepreneurs, and is the base course offering of the Wasabi Ventures Academy. Participants learn about the startup world directly from the firm’s general partners and along the way vie for the opportunity to form or join startups in the Wasabi Ventures portfolio.

“Our move into Arizona is just the first step in our strategy to bring Silicon Valley-style VC services to strong secondary markets, beginning in the Southwest,” said Chris Yeh, General Partner of Wasabi Ventures. “Phoenix is just a two-hour flight from Silicon Valley, so if we can bring the right combination of timely, strategic advice and investment to Arizona entrepreneurs, they shouldn’t have to move to Silicon Valley to build their companies. Entrepreneurs are just as smart and hardworking in Arizona as anywhere else, and this strong talent, combined with the lower cost of operations and reduced competition, presents an incredible opportunity for investors. Our strong focus on entrepreneur education and team building, and commitment to being a reliable cofounder, fills a gap in the ecosystem and will provide an important bridge for promising Arizona companies seeking to reach new heights.  We are excited to being operations and demonstrate the value of our model here.”

internet

CenturyLink Gbps service available to Arizona businesses

CenturyLink, Inc. today announced the availability of 1 gigabit per second (Gbps) fiber speeds to approximately 1,200 additional business locations in Arizona as part of a national fiber network upgrade that expanded availability of CenturyLink’s gigabit broadband services to nearly 490,000 business locations in 17 states.

As part of CenturyLink’s gigabit service expansion in Arizona, 1 Gbps access in Phoenix, which launched in 2014, is expanding to additional business locations in south Phoenix and northwest Phoenix. CenturyLink is also launching gigabit fiber service in Sun City and Surprise which makes gigabit speeds available to more than 60,000 business locations throughout Arizona.

“After launching 1 Gig services in Phoenix last year, we are pleased to now bring ultra-fast fiber broadband speeds of up to 1 gigabit per second to our business customers in south Phoenix and northwest Phoenix,” said Ken McMahon, vice president enterprise sales for CenturyLink. “With symmetrical upload and download speeds of up to 1 Gbps, fiber service from CenturyLink outperforms the slower upload speeds available through basic business broadband providers, including many cable companies.” 

“Fiber optic technology with the kind of speeds offered by Centurylink, continue to make south Phoenix a desirable and affordable place to start a business. I value and appreciate Centurylink’s continued investment and focus on this part of Phoenix,” said Kate Gallego, Phoenix City Councilwoman. “With access to high-speed broadband connectivity, our city can entice more corporate headquarters while offering small and midsized businesses the tools to successfully navigate complex and rapidly changing technology.” CenturyLink uses Fiber-to-the-premises (FTTP) technology to provide speeds of up to 1 Gbps to businesses located near the company’s fiber network backbone or in fiber-fed multi-tenant unit office buildings. This high-speed broadband connectivity makes it easier for businesses to work in the cloud, upload and download large multimedia files, stream video content and back-up data in real time.

In addition to providing fiber connectivity, CenturyLink can manage a range of IT services for small and midsized business customers. CenturyLink’s Managed Office is a complete IT and phone system solution that includes managed voice, data, security, infrastructure and cloud-based business applications for a low monthly fee.

Managed services from CenturyLink are designed for businesses that want enterprise-class IT capabilities yet do not have enough in-house time or expertise to implement and maintain new technology. CenturyLink handles the day-to-day work of installing, managing and updating IT systems on behalf of businesses, which enables them to shift internal resources to more strategic projects.

Business customers can visit www.centurylink.com/Phoenix to learn more about CenturyLink’s fiber-based services, including speeds up to 1 Gbps, and to determine if service is available in their location.    

In addition to business 1 Gbps service, CenturyLink also offers broadband service up to 1 Gbps to residential customers in Phoenix. For more information on residential gigabit service and to find out where these speeds are available, customers can go to www.centurylink.com/gigabit.

pt

The CORE Institute set to see S. Arizona patients

Arizona’s largest orthopedic and neurology practice, The CORE Institute® powered by Excellence Headquarters®, will begin seeing its first orthopedic patients in Green Valley starting June 1. Earlier this year, The CORE Institute and Green Valley Hospital executed an orthopedic service line co-management agreement. Under the agreement, The CORE Institute will provide orthopedic physician call coverage and orthopedic service line management services at the new 50-bed full-service acute care facility located south of Tucson in Green Valley, opening June 1, 2015.

The CORE Institute also announced it officially opens its first Clinic in Southern Arizona at 4485 S I-19 Frontage Rd in Green Valley. Dr. Alex Verhoogen, board certified orthopedic surgeon with over 40 years of orthopedic experience will care for patients in Green Valley. He has expertise in general orthopedic practice including adult and pediatric fracture care, sports medicine and arthroscopy, and joint reconstruction surgery. Dr. Shane Hess, a fellowship-trained orthopedic surgeon will be joining the CORE team later this summer and will bring additional expertise in joint replacement surgery to Green Valley. Additionally, senior physicians Drs. David Jacofsky, Bryan Wall and Jason Scalise from Phoenix will be seeing patients, bringing best-in-class orthopedic care to Southern Arizona.   

“The CORE Institute is thrilled to expand our Excellence through Evidence® platform in Southern Arizona to significantly enhance the orthopedic care available in the greater Tucson area,” said Vice Chairman, Dr. Jason Scalise. “We’re excited to bring our standardized care approach, proprietary quality IT platform, and proven outcomes to Green Valley Hospital, and to help build an orthopedic program in Southern Arizona.”

The CORE Institute plans to continue to expand in Southern Arizona, including additional locations in Tucson. Their investment in the community will ultimately shape the entire orthopedic service line and distinguish Green Valley Hospital as a leader in orthopedics delivery in Southern Arizona. 

To schedule an appointment with Dr. Verhoogen, or any of The CORE Institute providers, call 1.866.974.2673.

For more information, visit www.thecoreinstitute.com/greenvalley.

 

pests

Warmer weather brings out bugs in the Valley

Don’t take it personally, but as you’re thinking about servicing your AC unit for the valley’s quickly-approaching summer, you may also want to address those bugs that are currently marching across your kitchen floor.

“It’s go-time!” relates Nathan Woolf, co-founder of Blue Sky Pest Control. “Once our nighttime temperatures start to stay above 68 degrees, a lot of the bugs like scorpions that were less active during the cooler months start to forage more and get a lot more active, and our phones start ringing even more.”

Woolf also notes that our heavy winter rains meant more standing water, and some species actually lay their eggs under such conditions, and now that it’s getting warmer, we’re seeing the next wave of offspring.

“It’s kind of like turning on a stove,” relates Curtis Whalen, co-founder of Blue Sky Pest Control. “Things start to heat up, critters start to hatch out, and suddenly, everything is more active.”

Whalen also notes that even though Arizona is situated in the desert, our state is in a high-pressure zone for bugs, and in the Top 5 states in the nation for termite treatments.

“The old adage is true here: ‘There are homes that have termites – and those that will get them,’” adds Whalen. “Arizona has a lot of pests because of our indigenous species, as well as the micro-environments we have created, with things like drip-systems creating man-made moisture pockets that are perfect for insects and pests (food, shelter, and water).”

In no particular order, here are the TOP 5 “GO-TIME” BUGS you need to be aware of:

1. Roaches – cockroaches are of the order Blattodea, and about 30 species LOVE human habitats

2. Crickets – harmless enough, until you’ve listened to their chirping through a sleepless night

3. Spiders – some people actually suffer from Arachnophobia, or fear of spiders

4. Scorpions – the Arizona Bark Scorpion is venomous and can live up to 7 years

5. Ants – As one of the top nuisance pests in Arizona, controlling them is a constant battle as they are continually migrating and creating new colonies. 

Whalen also lists earwigs, black widow spiders, mice, rats and termites (“the pest that never sleeps”) as top summer time pests that people call about most frequently. If you’re unsure, just call Blue Sky Pest Control and they can normally determine what you’ll need to do over the phone – or they’ll even send out a technician for a FREE inspection (unless you’re selling your home).

“People send us pictures of bugs all the time,” smiles Whalen. “If it’s bugging you – we’re here to help, especially during go-time!”

DEPRESSION-facebook

10 important signs of mental illness

Nearly 1 in 5 American adults will have a diagnosable mental health condition in any given year, according to the National Institute of Mental Health. In Arizona, it is estimated that nearly 42,000 people are seriously mentally ill.

What’s even more concerning is how mental health is increasingly affecting our youth. About 11 percent of adolescents have a depressive disorder by the age of 18, according to the National Comorbidity Survey-Adolescent Supplement. Many are surprised to learn that girls are more likely than boys to experience depression, and the risk for depression increases as a child gets older. According to the World Health Organization, major depressive disorder it the leading cause of disability among Americans age 15 to 44.

“Given the large number of people impacted by mental illness, it’s more important than ever for people to become educated and aware of mental illness warning signs along with the tools for coping and treatment,” said Peter ‘Chip’ Coffey, MAPC, LPC, NCC, Director of Therapy Services at St. Luke’s Behavioral Health Center. “When people begin to first experience symptoms of loss of sleep, feeling tired for no reason, feeling low, anxious or hearing strange voices inside their heads, these symptoms should not go ignored in hopes they will just fade away. Like any other disease, we need to address these symptoms early, identify the underlying disease and plan an appropriate course of action on a path to overall health.”

In conjunction with Mental Health Month in May, experts like Coffey from St. Luke’s Behavioral Health Center in Phoenix are available to speak about the signs of mental illness, including how to seek help and treatment for a loved one in crisis and the tools for coping.

According to Coffey, here are 10 warning signs of mental illness:

1.        Marked personality change
2.        Inability to cope with problems and daily activities
3.        Strange or grandiose ideas
4.        Excessive anxieties
5.        Prolonged depression and apathy
6.        Marked changes in eating or sleeping patterns
7.        Extreme highs and lows
8.        Abuse of alcohol or drugs
9.        Excessive anger, hostility, or violent behavior
10. Most importantly, a person who is thinking or talking about suicide or homicide should seek help immediately

To learn more about mental health along with the tools for coping and treatment, join Peter ‘Chip’ Coffey, MAPC, LPC, NCC, Director of Therapy Services at St. Luke’s Behavioral Health Center, at a special seminar called “Mindfulness – How to Live in the Moment,” this Friday, May 15 from Noon to 1 p.m. at the Burton Barr Central Library, 1221 N. Central Ave., Phoenix. To register for this free event, call, 1-877-351-WELL (9355).

A person with one or more of the warning signs should be evaluated by a psychiatrist or physician as soon as possible. St. Luke’s Behavioral Health Center, for example, offers free behavioral health evaluations. Call 602-251-8535 in Phoenix, or use the toll-free number, 1-800-821-4193, to schedule an assessment.

NEAT Method 1

Silverleaf offers luxury home organizing tips

The Sterling Collection at Silverleaf will host an afternoon of luxury home organizing tips for your master closet and kitchen with help from luxury residential organizer, Mika Perry of NEAT Method. 

Also included will be an exclusive spring trunk show from Calypso St. Barth along with light bites and wine from Sorso Wine Room.

Situated within the prestigious private community of Silverleaf, The Sterling Collection is an intimate collection of exceptional north Scottsdale condominiums and penthouses that will break ground later this month. 

Now selling from the low $1 million, the community includes a state-of-the-art robotic parking valet, secured private elevators with direct entry into each home, clubhouse membership to the prestigious Silverleaf Golf Club & Spa, access to the Village Health Club & Spa, chauffeured car service and dedicated on-site personal concierge. The Sterling Collection at Silverleaf is aspiring to silver-level LEED standards and will be among the greenest condominiums in Arizona.

WHEN: Saturday, May 16, 2015, 2pm-5pm

WHERE: The Sterling Collection, 18835 N. Thompson Peak Parkway, Suite C-105, Scottsdale, AZ 85255 (Located across from the Village Health Club)

COST & RSVP: Event is free. Space is limited. RSVP is required by May 14, 2015. RSVP to info@scsilverleaf.com or by calling 480-443-6767.

lennar

Lennar wins HBACA Co-Home of the Year

Lennar’s Crest floorplan, featured at Encore at Victory in the masterplanned Verrado community, recently won Co-Home of the Year in the Active Adult Community category during the HBACA Major Achievements in Merchandising Excellence Awards (MAME).

“We are so appreciative that our peers recognized our Crest floorplan with this honor,” said Alan Jones, Division President for Lennar Arizona. “We aimed to create a home that was not only beautiful, functional and flexible, but would also resonate with empty nesters and other homebuyers whose lives and home-shopping styles are changing.”

Lennar designed the Crest floorplan specifically for homebuyers age 55 and beyond. The 1,991 square foot single-story home features two-bedrooms, two-bathrooms, a den and side courtyard that expands the feeling of outdoor space and light. If buyers prefer, the courtyard can be turned into a living room. In addition, the 16-foot bi-fold patio doors on the rear of the home make the covered patio feel like an expansion of the great room – offering the best of indoor-outdoor living.   

Lennar re-entered the active adult market after a 12-year hiatus when they were invited to be among a select list of homebuilders for the Victory active adult neighborhood. Victory is nestled within the Buckeye masterplanned community of Verrado, a DMB development.

Bridget Niehus of Pennsylvania had planned to buy at another active adult community in the area. But once she saw the Lennar models, there was no turning back.  “It was the opening day of Victory and when I saw the Lennar homes, the homesites, the price and the included features, I was sold,” said Niehus.

Niehus selected the Crest plan on a view homesite, calling her husband Wayne later to tell him what she had done.  With two sons in the Valley, being close to family is a highlight. Living at Victory gives Niehus and her husband plenty of time with their five grandchildren in the area. “Lennar made it so easy to make this choice, especially with their Everything’s Included® commitment,” she noted.

All Lennar homes, including the Crest at Encore in Victory, are equipped with a comprehensive and expandable CAT 6 structured wiring to virtually future-proof home technology needs, along with a home security and monitoring system. Lennar also embraces energy-efficiency with energy saving features like motion sensor water faucets at kitchen sinks, radiant roof barriers to minimize heat transfer and energy saving appliances. These features and more are included at no extra cost with Lennar’s Everything’s Included® program.

Residents of Victory at Verrado enjoy the community pool, Verrado Golf Club, shopping and restaurants in nearby downtown Verrado. The community features multiple parks, 21 miles of hiking and biking trails, clubs and various events held throughout the year. The Victory Club is expected to open later this year with plans to include a movement studio, pickleball courts, yoga lawn, Life Performance training center, tennis, pools, trails, restaurants and more.

To see Crest and Lennar’s other floorplans, visit the Encore Welcome Home Center located at 20810 W. Pasadena Avenue Buckeye, AZ 85396. For more information call (602)285-4663. New home prices start in the high $200,000’s.

Lennar, founded in 1954, is one of the nation’s leading builders of quality homes for all generations. The company builds affordable, move-up, and retirement homes primarily under the Lennar brand name. The company has been building in Arizona for nearly 40 years and owns considerable land holdings in the state. For the latest Lennar information please visit any of the following: Lennar.com, Facebook.com/LennarPhoenix; YouTube.com/LennarPhoenix; Twitter.com/LennarPhoenix.

Weight-loss surgery - Scottsdale Living Magazine Spring 2012

Bridges Center for Weight Management earns designation

Blue Cross Blue Shield of Arizona named Bridges Center for Surgical Weight Management at St. Luke’s Medical Center in Phoenix as part of its Blue Distinction® Centers for Specialty Care program. This healthcare facility has been designated as a Blue Distinction® Center+ for delivering quality care resulting in better overall outcomes for bariatric patients, while also meeting key requirements for cost efficiency.
 
To receive a Blue Distinction Center+ for Bariatric Surgery designation, a new designation added to the program this year, a healthcare facility must demonstrate success in meeting patient safety as well as bariatric-specific quality measures, including complications and readmissions, for gastric stapling and/or gastric banding procedures. 
 
A healthcare facility must also have earned national accreditations at both the facility level and the bariatric care-specific level, as well as demonstrate better cost efficiency relative to its peers. Quality is key: only those facilities that first meet Blue Distinction’s nationally-established, objective quality measures will be considered for designation as a Blue Distinction Center+.
 
“The Blue Distinction Specialty Care recognition program was developed to identify healthcare facilities with proven expertise in delivering specialty care,” said Dr. Vishu Jhaveri, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Arizona chief medical officer. “The Bridges Center for Surgical Weight Loss Management team at St. Luke’s Medical Center has a commitment to quality and helping members better manage their care through the Blue Distinction Specialty Care program.”
 
Bariatric surgeries are among the most common elective surgeries in the U.S., which provides a significant opportunity to improve quality and efficiency within the healthcare system. There were 179,000 bariatric surgeries performed in 2013, according to the American Society of Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery, and the average cost is more than $28,000 per episode, according to the Journal of the American Medical Association. Furthermore, it is estimated that 72 million Americans are obese and 24 million suffer from morbid obesity, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The estimated annual healthcare costs of obesity-related illnesses are $190.2 billion, or nearly 21 percent of annual medical spending in the U.S., according to the Journal of Health Economics
 
Research shows that facilities designated as Blue Distinction Centers and Blue Distinction Centers+ demonstrate better quality and improved outcomes for patients compared with their peers. On average, Blue Distinction Centers+ are also 20 percent or more cost efficient than non-Blue Distinction Center+ designated healthcare facilities.
 
“We’re honored to receive this noteworthy designation,” said Hilario Juarez, M.D., FACS, Co-Medical Director of Bridges Center for Surgical Weight Management at St. Luke’s Medical Center. “Our team is dedicated to making positive experiences for our patients by guiding and supporting them through every step of their weight loss journeys.”
 
Since 2006, the Blue Distinction Centers for Specialty Care program has helped patients find quality providers for their specialty care needs in the areas of bariatric surgery, cardiac care, complex and rare cancers, knee and hip replacements, spine surgery, and transplants while encouraging healthcare professionals to improve the care they deliver.
For more information about the Blue Distinction Centers for Specialty Care program and for a complete listing of the designated facilities, visit www.bcbs.com/bluedistinction.
Metro Tech

Washington Federal helps scholars with financial education

Representatives from Washington Federal’s executive team in Arizona honored more than 200 graduates of its 2015 Washington Federal Financial Scholars Program, a financial education course designed to provide students with the critical skills needed to make sound financial decisions, on Wednesday, April 29 at Metro Tech High School. Washington Federal partnered with leading education technology company EverFi, Inc., to bring this interactive, web-based financial management education tool to six schools statewide and 20 total throughout Arizona, Idaho, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon and Utah. Since the program’s inception in 2013, it has reached more than 5,000 students.
 
“Our goal is to provide you with foundational knowledge to make smart decisions with your finances,” said Mike Brown, Arizona regional president of Washington Federal during his keynote address to the students. “Nothing can jeopardize your ability to succeed in today’s complex and competitive environment faster than poor financial decisions.”
 
Washington Federal and EverFi, Inc. bring the program to local students at no cost to the schools or the taxpayer. 
The web-based platform uses the latest in new media technology – simulations, avatars, gaming and adaptive-pathing – to bring complex financial concepts to life for today’s digital generation. The high school course offers over six hours of programming with ten units in a variety of financial topics including credit scores, insurance, credit cards, student loans, mortgages, taxes, stocks, savings, 401k’s and other critical concepts that map to national financial literacy standards. The platform uniquely tracks the progress and performance of every student and provides students who successfully complete the course with Certification in Financial Literacy, a valuable mark of distinction on college applications and resumes.