Donor support plays major role in hospital’s development and growth
In 1988, Sun Health opened Del E. Webb Memorial Hospital to serve the new Sun City West retirement community. Construction was made possible with $9 million in donations through the Sun Health Foundation. Since then, the community’s generosity has allowed Del E. Webb to enhance and expand services for the growing West Valley. While the hospital ownership transitioned to Banner Health in 2008, the Foundation remains the exclusive philanthropic partner of Banner Boswell and Banner Del E. Webb medical centers. We achieve our mission of supporting superior health care in the West Valley through the generosity of community donors who invest their time, talent and treasure through Sun Health Foundation.
Lill and Ernie Mueller
Lill and Ernie Mueller learned early on that hard work, grit and a little luck could be a ticket to a better life, a common dream in the Chicago working-class neighborhood where they grew up.
Being of modest means gave the Muellers a strong work ethic and a soft spot for those less fortunate. “We’ve always thought that helping people is the best thing you can do,” says Ernie.
After 30 years, Ernie and Lill sold their heating and air conditioning business in North Chicago and retired to Arizona. The Muellers invested wisely, which gave them the opportunity to support causes they believe in, like health care.
The couple, married for 69 years, has helped countless people in the Northwest Valley through contributions to Sun Health Foundation, including a generous donation that enabled Banner Del E. Webb Medical Center to expand in 2009. Today, the main-entrance lobby at Banner Del E. Webb bears their name.
“We know that Sun Health and Banner are very good causes,” Lill says. “They help all the people around here, and if we didn’t give back in some way, then they couldn’t do the job they’re doing today.”
Louisa and Birt Kellam
Soon after Louisa and Birt Kellam moved to Sun City West, a national study evaluating the cost efficiencies of the 4,000 biggest hospitals in the country was released. Boswell Memorial Hospital, now Banner Boswell Medical Center, was No. 1. And, Del E. Webb Memorial, now Banner Del E. Webb Medical Center, was No. 6 in the nation.
“Because of that, I joined the Sun Health Foundation board,” Birt says. “I really got interested because of that report and because the Foundation raised $340 million from the community.”
Louisa has a passion for superior women’s health care and having access to it nearby.
“Before we had the Center for Women’s Health, women had to leave Sun City West to get important health services,” she says. “We also had trouble keeping physicians here, because OB/GYNs want to serve women of all ages. So, now it is wonderful for both new mothers and grandmothers.”
For Birt, having a superior medical center nearby is crucial.
“You don’t have to go to Los Angeles or Chicago,” he says. “This community is fortunate to have high quality cardiac care and an orthopedic center of excellence. Now we have the Banner MD Anderson Cancer Center services on the Boswell campus and are continuing to expand cancer care on both the Boswell and Del E. Webb campuses.”
According to the Kellams, there are residents in the area who may not know the history of Sun Health and why it’s important.
“The younger people who are moving here are healthy and vibrant now, but sooner or later they will need superior care also,” Louisa says. “So it is an investment in their future wellbeing to get involved now while they can see the exciting things going on.”
A trailer on Meeker Boulevard, staffed by a single doctor.
That was the available health care services in Sun City West in 1981 when Aloise Wrobel and her husband Eldred moved from Wichita, Kansas.
Walter O. Boswell Memorial Hospital, now Banner Boswell Medical Center, was several miles away in Sun City.
“When I found out Sun Health was building a hospital in Sun City West, I thought it was wonderful,” Aloise says. “We wanted all the support that was possible in our own area, for one reason, because my husband was not well.”
Eldred later passed, and Aloise found purpose in giving both her volunteer time and her philanthropic support to Sun Health. She and second husband Richard also donated annually, with some of their gifts buying hospital beds and contributing to other critical services.
“We are put in this world, if possible, to give back. It is the best feeling you can ever have,” Aloise proudly states. “It is wonderful to have Banner Del E. Webb Medical Center in our own neighborhood, especially if you have an emergency, you don’t have far to go.”
Looking to the future, Aloise hopes the community will continue supporting Sun Health Foundation and the Banner medical centers.
“If you want good community health care from the hospital, you have to support the hospital,” she says.