Tag Archives: Sun Health Senior Living

Dr. Miles Howard utilizes da Vinci Robotic Surgery technology at Abrazo Arrowhead Hospital.

WESTMARC turns West Valley into healthcare hotbed

There was a time when many West Valley residents had to travel to downtown Phoenix or the East Valley for specialized healthcare services and treatments.

Times have dramatically changed.

“Whether it’s specialized pediatric care, trauma care, cutting-edge heart care, or state-of-the-art cancer care, you can find some of the leading providers of those services in the West Valley,” said Rob Gould, president of Banner Health’s Arizona West Division.

You need to look no further than the Abrazo West Campus (formerly West Valley Hospital) and Cancer Treatment Centers of America at Western Regional Medical Center — which are separated by less than two miles in Goodyear — to see the healthcare innovation that has taken over the West Valley. Surgeons at Abrazo West performed the first surgery in the Valley using the new da Vinci Xi robotic surgical system. In April, CTCA began the Phase II portion of a first-of-its-kind clinical trial, using a new immunotherapy treatment for patients with advanced small cell lung cancer, pancreatic cancer and connective-tissue cancers, including breast cancer.

So how has the West Valley gone from having a reputation as a bedroom to community to one on the cutting edge of healthcare and medical research?

According to Sharon Grambow, chief operating officer of Sun Health Senior Living and immediate past chair of WESTMARC, the West Valley is well positioned for growth for healthcare organizations because of three factors:

• Demographics and concentration of seniors, who generally are high utilizers of care.

• The supply of healthcare professionals and workforce pool because of the growth of communities like Surprise, Peoria, Goodyear and Glendale.

• The changing face of healthcare which is trending away from the acute episodic incidents to more focusing on health and wellness, managing chronic disease and personal responsibility for an individuals health.

“There will be an explosion of growth away from the traditional hospital campuses,” Grambow said, “and the West Valley has the available land to support that growth.”

And writing the prescription to help the West Valley capitalize on healthcare opportunities has been WESTMARC.

Catalyst for growth

“What WESTMARC has really done well is bringing people together in a way that is starting to build a more definitive brand for the west side of town,” said Matt McGuire, president and CEO of CTCA at Western Regional Medical Center. “WESTMARC has an ability to bring thought leaders together to help better position the West Valley and really make it a place that is attractive not just to healthcare businesses, but to other businesses as well.”

By serving as the leading advocate and economic development group for the West Valley, Gould said WESTMARC has helped outside companies better understand what the west side has to offer their businesses in terms of a skilled workforce, affordable land, freeway access to major markets and a high quality of life for their employees.

“We’ve also appreciated Westmarc’s efforts to help lawmakers better understand the positive impact healthcare has on the state and why we need to do all we can to support the healthcare industry,” Gould said.

WESTMARC has really help drive the growth of healthcare, Grambow said, because it is uniquely positioned to bring together all the stakeholders — government, business and consumers — to work together for optimal outcomes.

“I am really struck by how friendly and business-minded the political leadership has been in the West Valley,” McGuire said. “WESTMARC has an extraordinary ability to bring public and private leaders together to coalesce around opportunities and unique branding that makes the West Valley an attractive place for healthcare businesses and facilities to come.”

Once healthcare companies come, economic development experts said other businesses will follow.

“Healthcare is a huge economic development driver,” said Richard Hubbard, president and CEO of WESTMARC. “Having the ability to promote high-quality healthcare facilities in the West Valley helps us attract businesses. When you can promote premier healthcare facilities, it’s really is a draw. Plus, healthcare is a very high-wage industry, so there is the added benefit of having the economic impact of having an elite industry in the region.”

Gould agreed that families and employers will often factor in the availability of quality healthcare before choosing where to relocate, “so having high quality health care institutions in the West Valley plays an important role in supporting the West Valley’s economic development efforts.”

Maintaining momentum

Experts said one of the biggest strengths the West Valley has going for it as it aims to maintain growth in the healthcare sector is its sizable and well-educated workforce, many of whom reside in the West Valley but currently leave to work elsewhere.

“That’s due, in part, to the fact that the West Valley is a great place to live and play, so it attracts a dynamic and diverse workforce,” Gould said. “Additionally, we’re fortunate to have so many terrific secondary schools, colleges and universities offering quality healthcare training programs.”

Gould said Banner enjoys a close relationship with several of them, including Glendale and Estrella Mountain community colleges, Grand Canyon University, Midwestern University and ASU West.

“Any day of the week, you can find nursing students, pharmacy students and medical students working alongside working professionals inside our hospitals, gaining the experience they’ll need to enter the workforce,” Gould said.

In addition to a built-in worksforce, another strength is the  tremendous support the healthcare industry receives from city leaders and economic development officials throughout the West Valley.

“A few years ago, for example, we completed a major $290 million campus expansion at Banner Thunderbird Medical Center in Glendale,” Gould said. “You don’t get through a project of that scope and magnitude without extensive cooperation and support from the city’s economic development team, planning department and City Council. At Banner, we don’t take that support for granted, and we appreciate it when we see it.”

Healthcare leaders universally agreed.

“When I look at the mayors of the communities we serve — Avondale, Goodyear, Buckeye, Litchfield — they are all very progressive and collaborative,” said Stan Holm, CEO of Abrazo West Campus.

Not to be ignored when creating a checklist of West Valley strengths is the fact that the region has room to grow.

“The West Valley is poised for growth because the region is not land locked by anything tied to state land or Indian territories,” Holm said. “It allows businesses to continuously expand and the opening of the Loop 303 has geographically set up the West Valley to succeed for the long run.”

Don Freeman, senior project manager for healthcare for The Weitz Company said another advantage of the West Valley for healthcare facilities is the opportunity to get anchored and established in an up-and-coming market.

“Available land and economic development partners willing and able to work with real estate brokers, developers, new businesses and general contractors are the two major factors I see contributing to the growth,” Freeman said.

What’s next?

Valley residents don’t have to look any further than daily headline to see that healthcare is continuing to explode in the West Valley. In just the past five years, Gould said Banner Health has invested about $250 million to expand existing health care facilities and to build new ones in the West Valley. This figure is led by the $161 million expansion project that is nearly complete at Banner Estrella Medical Center in west Phoenix. And in June, Plaza Companies, which is based in the West Valley and is one of the premier medical office real estate firms in Arizona, announced it would help build a five-story addition to Banner Estrella Campus. It will be 70,000-square-feet initially, with future expansion capabilities up to 125,000 square feet.

“We are looking forward to this project and building a facility that will complement the success of the first Medical Plaza on the Banner Estrella campus,” said Sharon Harper, president and CEO of Plaza Companies. “This is yet another sign of the growing need for healthcare services in the west Phoenix area. For years to come, this facility will serve thousands of people in need of medical care.”

But that’s not the only growth Banner is looking at in the West Valley.

“In June, we embarked on a $2.3 million facelift of the Banner Thunderbird Medical Pavilion, a large medical office building on the campus of Banner Thunderbird Medical Center,” Gould said. “Next year, we plan to open a new Banner Health Center on the northwest corner of the Loop 101 Freeway and 75th Avenue in Glendale in the Aspera development. This center will include primary care physicians, specialists and lab and medical imaging capabilities.”

The new Banner Health facility will mark the company’s fourth in the West Valley, joining Banner locations in Verrado, Estrella and Surprise.

But Banner isn’t the only healthcare company expanding in the West Valley.

“We just finished a $26 million expansion a year ago,” Holm said. “In that, we had a south tower that was erected and the third floor was built out and we have shelf space on the first and second floors. We added operating room suites. We built out two operating rooms and have shelf space for future growth there. We are poised with shelf space to continue to grow with the community.”

At CTCA, McGuire said he is deep into the process of planning for growth.

“We initiated a five-year master capital planning process about three months ago and will be working with our board over the summer about what that will include,” McGuire said. “We are looking at options that include adding on to the existing footprint, but we also recognize where healthcare is moving, meaning much more care in the future is going to be delivered in outpatient settings.”

McGuire said than in addition to adding about 200 parking sppaces and finishing off a couple areas that are currently shelf space within the hospital, executives at CTCA are looking at adjoining acreage around the hospital for potential expansion opportunities.

“Instead of adding on, we’re exploring what it might look like to take a more campus approach for our hospital,” McGuire said. “A lot of that will be decided in coming months.”

As the healthcare industry continues to grow and medical innovation defines the West Valley, the West Valley has developed a swagger that has made it an attactive place to do business.

“The west side has also been hurt historically by its reputation as a bedroom community,” Gould said. “A thriving healthcare industry on the west side is helping change that perception. Today, in many of the communities we serve, our hospitals are the largest local employer, allowing residents to find quality, well-paying jobs in the same communities where they live and play.”

70yo Skydiver, web

Local 70-year-old skydiver places in photo contest

On May 21, Grantmakers in Aging (GIA) announced the selection of 18 winners of its first “Friendly Faces, Friendly Places” international photo contest, supported by the Pfizer Foundation. Out of the 500 photos submitted worldwide, one local photo was announced as a winner. The photo of Surprise resident Sharon Vizzini skydiving at age 70, placed second in the “Older and Active” category. The photo was provided by Sun Health Senior Living and submitted by the Greater Phoenix Age-Friendly Network.

Vizzini is a resident of The Colonnade, part of Sun Health Senior Living. Vizzini was inspired to go skydiving after her daughter went and the two soon went skydiving together, “I didn’t ever think I’d be jumping out of a plane at 13,000 feet. However, my daughter did it…By skydiving, she was facing her fears.” Vizzini says it is never too late to spread your wings, “Don’t limit yourself to things that you have done in the past. If a new great adventure comes along, don’t be afraid to do it. I think you will be really surprised at what you can actually accomplish. You are only limited by your own fears.”

Grantmakers in Aging launched the competition to increase an understanding about what makes communities great places to grow up and grow old. John Feather, GIA CEO shared, “Our winning photographs tell meaningful stories of how older adults are vitally connected to the life of their cities, towns, and villages in many different parts of the world.”

Ron Guziak, President and CEO of Sun Health, stated, “On all of our campuses, we are committed to supporting people’s dreams and connections to their communities. Individuals like Mrs. Vizzini embody the sense of adventure that actually fulfills their dreams. At Sun Health, we help people live the life they want.”
Sun Health is partnering with Benevilla, another nonprofit agency located in Surprise, Arizona to establish Northwest Valley Connect, a new membership-based transportation program. The program offers transportation to older adults, information and referral, and mobility management services to triage requests for transportation and coordinate available resources.

Northwest Valley Connect is one of a number of pilot sites supported by the Greater Phoenix Age-Friendly Network. The network is hosted by the Maricopa Association of Governments and supported by a number of partners including Virginia G. Piper Charitable Trust, Grantmakers in Aging, and the Pfizer Foundation. The goal of the network is to better connect older adults to people of all ages.

The winning photographs in the six categories of the competition may be found on the Community AGEnda webpage. Community AGEnda is a national initiative funded by the Pfizer Foundation and administered by Grantmakers in Aging. The Greater Phoenix Age-Friendly Network is one of five sites nationwide participating in the initiative.

Medical Technology - AZ Business Magazine January/February 2012

Sun Health names executive director of The Colonnade

Sun Health Senior Living, a nationally recognized operator of three retirement communities and two care centers in Arizona, appointed Barbara Foster executive director of The Colonnade, an active adult life care community located in Surprise.

Foster, who comes to Sun Health from Macon, Ga., brings more than 25 years of industry experience to the role. She has worked with an array of continuing care retirement communities across the country serving in varied leadership capacities, including vice president of operations, executive director and regional operations manager. Included among her many leadership duties was responsibility for opening new CCRCs, running large-scale care centers, and maintaining operational responsibility for upwards of 1,000 residents in a single community.

“When I met the team at Sun Health and saw its goals to impart healthy living options for their residents as well as seniors in the surrounding area via community health programs and forward-thinking strategic initiatives, I was hooked,” Foster said. “I wanted to be part of something bigger than myself that impacted seniors in a positive way. I feel Sun Health fulfills that need and will for many years to come.”

Foster’s extensive experience opening new communities has prepared her well to lead The Colonnade, which is poised for continued growth this summer with the opening of a new 36-unit condo-style complex known as The Colonnade Villas.

As executive director of The Colonnade, Foster is responsible for leading, administering and directing virtually all aspects of community operations, ranging from budget oversight, staff management and regulatory compliance, to serving as a liaison between the community and local hospitals, care centers and senior assistance agencies.

“The people at Sun Health think big, act in positive ways and look past the here and now to move today’s seniors beyond the status quo of aging and into a future of health and wellness so they can live longer, healthier lives,” she commented. “My goals as executive director at The Colonnade include ensuring open communication between  the residents, staff and myself; keeping the community financially stable and growing; and most importantly, maintaining resident satisfaction by creating exciting opportunities to preserve and propel their physical, intellectual, spiritual and social health and well-being.”

Colonnade - Sun Health Senior Living

The Colonnade Adding New Apartment Villas, Townhouse Options

Just four years after its opening and roughly a year after Sun Health assumed full ownership of the property, The Colonnade is growing.

To better meet the needs of residents who like the efficiency of an apartment in a retirement community setting, The Colonnade has updated its master site plan to include a new design for 36-apartment villas and two townhomes.

The building architecture is designed with attractive visual aesthetics, diversity, enhanced functionality and ease of living. Each building reflects Mediterranean style architecture, with an appealing color palette, tile roofs, and added features such as awnings, shutters and custom iron accents.

The floor plans have been upgraded to better meet the diverse needs of its owners. Balconies have been added to two levels in the middle units above the foyer area. Appealing embellishments such as a trellised arbor, iron work on the balconies and wrap around stepped, hipped roofs at the corner units reflect standards essential to The Colonnade residents.

In addition, the plan also includes:

  • An expansion of the community’s cart path for vehicles and a pedestrian-only pathway,
  • The construction of additional recreational facilities, and
  • The development of open and green space design to create a resort-like feel and additional leisure nodes for outside resident activities.

Anticipated to open in 3Q 2013, the construction is expected to begin in August and last 9-12 months.

“We’re delighted to offer this enhancement to our residents,” said Sharon Grambow, chief operating officer for Sun Health Senior Living and one of the senior leaders who helped open the community in 2008.

“In addition to the apartment villas, these enhancements are ones our residents have requested for some time. We think they will help to distinguish our community and attract more great residents who want to call The Colonnade home.”

For more information on The Colonnade, visit Sun Health’s website at www.sunhealth.org.