Note From the Director



As I reflect back on my first year as director of the University of Arizona Sarver Heart Center, keeping pace with change has become part of our daily routine. Some changes are the result of my goals to build upon past excellence in clinical cardiology and expand our research mission. Other changes are the result of interactions with our highly engaged boards and staff, and are focused on improvement of our already successful community education programs. And, change is unavoidable in the era of “Endless Possibilities” and our new affiliation with Banner Health. My vision for improving our academic medical center for our patients, trainees, faculty and staff is in line with Banner’s vision.

Much has been written about the vast resources Banner plans to invest in Tucson. It’s very clear that this non-profit health system will take the physical plant of the UA-affiliated hospital and clinics from the 1970s to a 21st century medical complex. I look forward to working with them and sharing more news of this transformation in the future.

Our fellowship education program also is undergoing changes. Following three years of internal medicine residency training, our fellows come to us as fully trained internists, ready to begin three (or more) years of specialty fellowship education in general cardiology. The structure of that training is dictated by a document called “COCATS” – Core Cardiology Training Symposium, written by the American College of Cardiology Foundation. A new version of COCATS has just been published and is aligned with changes in how we are training doctors nationally. Dr. Julia H. Indik, who serves as our cardiology fellowship director, our entire fellowship committee and I are beginning a process of re-examining our training programs to determine how we might improve them.

An important external source of change is the stunningly large round of cuts to our universities in the State of Arizona budget. This underscores what UA leadership has been saying for years – we need to raise more funds from private supporters. To this end, the Arizona Health Sciences Center leadership has recruited new development staff to oversee major gifts and is realigning staff relationships to maximize giving opportunities. The UA Sarver Heart Center development team now reports in part to the new AHSC development leadership.

Sarver Heart Center is operating with its two partners – Banner and the AHSC leadership – to move forward our mission to improve patient care, research and education of professionals and the public at the University of Arizona. We ask for your patience as we learn how to balance long-standing successful traditions with new ways of achieving excellence.

I want to take a moment to gratefully celebrate the life of one of our strongest private supporters, Alfie Norville, who recently passed away. Alfie lived a remarkable and generous life – I wish I could have known her longer. Among her many charitable causes, Alfie counted the UA Sarver Heart Center as vital. She served as a member of the advisory board and the Women’s Heart Health Education Committee. She and her husband, Allan Norville, generously support our research mission by providing funds for an endowed chair focusing on heart disease in women. In Alfie’s memory, the family continues their support of the Sarver Heart Center. (Please read more about the life of this remarkable woman.)

With a focus on expanding and improving cardiology clinical services and heart failure research, I’m pleased to welcome Dr. Elizabeth Juneman. Some of you know her as a faculty member with a research laboratory at the Sarver Heart Center and a clinical cardiology appointment at the Southern Arizona VA Health System. Dr. Juneman now will be on the Banner - University Medical Center and Arizona Health Sciences Center campuses full time, serving as director of Outpatient Cardiology and assistant program director of the Cardiovascular Disease Fellowship. She continues her important research in deciphering the mechanisms of heart failure. In her role as Outpatient Cardiology director, Dr. Juneman is soliciting feedback from patients and staff as she explores opportunities for improving our outpatient care. (Learn more about Dr. Juneman and other member updates.)

As I stated in prior messages, clinical research is one of my passions. Incorporation of more clinical research is central to our mission of providing the highest-quality, cutting-edge patient care. I am pleased to announce the addition of Catherine MacDonald, BScN, MBA, who joins the Sarver Heart Center staff as cardiology clinical research manager. We have several clinical trials underway. Catherine is helping us pursue even more. (Please learn more.)

I have always found energy and excitement in change, and came to the University of Arizona specifically for the privilege of leading through such fast-changing times. Thank you for being part of this progress.

Nancy K. Sweitzer, MD, PhD

Director, University of Arizona Sarver Heart Center

Chief, Division of Cardiology

Return to Newsletter