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Vic Lombardi: Men’s Health Month

Local legendary sports television and radio host Vic Lombardi knows what most men are thinking when someone nudges them to go to the doctor. 

“When they hear ‘Men’s Health Month,’ they’re like, ‘Oh quit bothering me!’” 

But, as Vic knows personally, that nudge to go the doctor can actually help save a life.  

“If nobody had bothered to bother me, I probably wouldn’t be standing here talking about my health.” 

Both now and in recent decades, men in all age groups visit their primary care/general physician at lower rates than women. It’s a persistent problem, and Vic acknowledges he didn’t see anything wrong. “I thought I was in the best health possible: I was in great shape, I had no symptoms, no family history, nothing.” 

See Vic Lombardi discuss Men’s Health Month in the video below. 

Last winter, however, Vic decided to go in and see his doctor. “Something was gnawing at me and I decided to go in and get a physical. One thing leads to another and I have a [prostate] cancer diagnosis, and it’s growing pretty aggressively.”  

By acting quickly Vic and his doctors at UCHealth University of Colorado Hospital were able to get surgery completed, and continue to monitor his health. “That’s the beauty of what’s happening at the CU Anschutz Medical Campus,” he said, speaking to the campus’ collaborative and interconnected nature, “you can walk in there, you can get seen, you can be seen, and you can see others.” 

“Even if you don’t think you’re sick,” Vic said, “There might be things developing that you may not see, feel, hear.” 

So, as for being a bother about visiting the doctor, Vic has a clear message for the stubborn and reticent men out there: “It’s my goal and my duty to bother you in Men’s Health Month to go get checked out. Bother to go get checked!” 


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Tornado time: How to stay safe on campus in severe weather

Colorado doesn’t fall into the nation’s notorious “twister alley,” but severe thunderstorms occasionally spawn funnel clouds or tornados. Some have even churned in the vicinity the CU Anschutz Medical Campus.

So it’s worth taking note of safety precautions in the event the campus – a veritable small city of about 50,000 people daily – falls within the area of a tornado watch or tornado warning. Both are issued by the National Weather Service. The “watch” is an alert to the possibility of a tornado over the next several hours, while the “warning” means a tornado has been spotted or one is suspected to be in the area.

An easy way to stay apprised of local weather events is to sign up for emergency alerts by the Aurora Office of Emergency Management. Also, sign up for emergency alerts through the CU Anschutz Medical Campus website.

Academic, research and administrative buildings at CU Anschutz don’t have designated tornado shelters, so in the event of a tornado warning, Cory Garcia, emergency preparedness coordinator for University Police, said people should seek the lowest accessible floor in a building. You should move to interior rooms, including inner hallways, restrooms or stairwells, away from windows.

“Getting to the lowest, safe place indoors is the message we push out,” Garcia said.

Stay away from windows

While the impulse might be to watch the skies from windows in the towers on campus, that’s a patently unsafe place during severe weather. People who stand by windows or go higher in buildings to gawk and take pictures are “not only putting your own life at risk, but the responding officers would probably prefer to be sheltering at that point,” Garcia said.

Stu Pike, interim director of emergency management for University Police, said tornados cause pressure to build inside buildings, so structures are prone, in severe climatic events, to explode outward. This makes it all the more imperative to stay away from glass.

Avoid getting in vehicles

Going outside to vehicles is likewise not advisable. Pike recalls a microburst that hit campus about 10 years ago. “It knocked over a tree in a parking lot – killed a Prius.”

Aurora’s safety sirens blare when a tornado warning is issued. The city does not issue all-clear sirens, so the campus community should immediately heed the major siren sound at the start of a warning. The city typically performs a warning siren test early in the season: call 303-739-7636 or email for information.

For the hospitals, severe-weather safety precautions are similar, and specific precautions are in place for patient-care areas. Employees should consult emergency preparedness procedures and team members at their location for more information.

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Commencement through the eyes of ambitious Nursing students

Nursing students are an adventurous group. At least that’s the impression you’ll get from reading this compendium of 2019 graduate features produced by the College of Nursing.

From the epic story of an ice climber to the idealistic goals of a non-traditional student to a student whose ambitions have been shaped by working in a girls’ home for sex-trafficking victims, get to know this group of fascinating graduates.

Here is the Spring Commencement special section:

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Police say ‘Run, Hide, Fight’ in the event of active harmer

As first responders described key ways people can stay safe on campus, especially in the event of an active harmer, CU Anschutz Police Chief Randy Repola addressed the elephant in the room: last week’s shooting at the STEM School in Highlands Ranch.

“It’s heartbreaking to watch what’s gone on again in Colorado, but I applaud your willingness to listen to this presentation,” he told a group of about 30 in a classroom in Education 2. “Some of this stuff sounds a bit extreme, and I hope you never need it, but you might find how it applies to even a very simple encounter you might have at work or at home.”

‘We’re not going to wait’

The lunch-hour talk, “When Presented with a Deadly Threat,” covered how to prepare for possible threats, recognize potential threats and various options of actions during a threat. Also, the first responders offered general safety tips and described the actions people can expect from law enforcement as they arrive on the scene of an emergency.

Police Chief Randy Repola
CU Anschutz Police Chief Randy Repola makes a point during the active harmer presentation on May 13.

Joining Repola were University Police colleagues Detective Neil Stark, Officer Chris Withrow and Cory Garcia, emergency preparedness coordinator.

Stark said law enforcement officers learned much from the Columbine High School massacre in 1999 on how to respond to active harmer situations. “Police officers are now trained to just go to the threat and stop it. We’re not going to wait outside.”

He added, “You can see how fast the STEM School shooting was put under wraps – quite quickly – because the officers went in.”

Ways to stay safe

The presenters highlighted measures taken to improve security at CU Anschutz:

  • The classroom security project, which has upgraded security in all classrooms in the Education buildings and one of the Research buildings. Equipped rooms have at least two panic buttons, a strobe light, severe bleeding control kit, electronic door locks and opaque film and reinforced windows.
  • The campus community should program key numbers into their cell phones: 303-724-4444 for University Police and 303-724-4999 for Emergency Management; and bookmark the websites and
  • All CU Anschutz students, faculty and staff are automatically registered to receive emergency alerts to their university-issued email addresses.
  • Students, faculty and staff may register their personal cell phone number (as “cellular”) to receive emergency alerts by text. To register, go to , click the “Text Alerts” drop down in the menu and follow the directions.
  • In the event of an emergency, university-owned desktop computers, laptops and tablets connected to the university domain will receive a “pop-up” alert.
  • To stay connected via social media, follow @CUAnschutzAlert on Twitter and “like” @CUDenverPoliceDepartment on Facebook.
  • Enroll in the Bleeding Control classes offered at least once a semester at CU Anschutz.

Get the ‘Safe Zone’ app

They also recommended that all members of the campus community add the free “Safe Zone” app to their phones. The app shares your phone’s location with the campus’s response team, helping responders find you quickly in the event of an emergency. It allows the user to make a one-touch emergency alert, First Aid alert and a help call.


  • Be aware of your surrounding (exits, doorways, hallways, etc.)
  • Note the location of emergency wall phones, quick reference guides, etc.
  • Program 303-724-4444 in your cell phone
  • Sign up to receive CU Alerts! text messages
  • Wear your ID badge
  • Add the CU Anschutz information line telephone number to your cell phone: 877-INFO-070
  • Get the free “Safe Zone” app for your cell phone

The police representatives also showed the FBI’s “Run. Hide. Fight” video on surviving an active shooter incident.

Things students, faculty and staff should do on a daily basis:

  • Get to know your surroundings by taking a different stairwell, hallway or other alternate route to your workplace. Also be aware of your surroundings by avoiding use of earphones.
  • Always wear your campus badge and politely question people who appear in your work area without one.

The presenters also explained the conceal-carry weapons policy that applies to CU Anschutz. In general, they advised campus community members to check with the HR department, your supervisor and specific weapons policies and procedures in your workplace location.

CARE, FaST teams

The first responders also covered the CARE (Campus Assessment, Response & Evaluation) and FaST (Faculty and Staff assessment) teams. CARE is a behavior assessment and referral resource for students, while FaST – 303-315-0182 or email – is a similar resource for faculty and staff.

Repola said there is no typical profile that applies to a shooter or other harmer, but it’s often discovered post-event that the harmer gave indications of escalation or planning before the tragedy. “There is no such thing as a false alarm, and the CARE team and FaST team treat those as confidential (reports),” he said. “The idea is early intervention – get the person the help they need and protect the community.”

When something doesn’t seem right, Stark said, “trust your gut. Call us and let us check it out. Your gut is usually right.”


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Stress Fest 2019

Everyone knows finals can be a stressful time for students. With group projects, looming deadlines and make-or-break final exams, it’s safe to say students have a lot going on, which is why taking time to decompress is so important.

The weeklong CU Anschutz Stress Fest encouraged students to take a few minutes to check in with themselves amidst a busy finals season. The event – sponsored by Student Senate, the Student Health Promotion Committee, Resilience & Wellness Council and Student Mental Health – promoted community wellbeing and included a yoga class, meditation session, creativity workshop and anti-stigma panel.

The popular Wellness Wednesday featured free food from Tocabe and Little Man Ice Cream as well as prizes and swag. Asked what inspired the event, third-year medical student Tosin Adebiyi said she wanted to highlight the many great resources already available on campus.


Holly Nelson, left, and Dora Safoh from the Office of Case Management greet students at their booth during Wellness Wednesday.

Booths featured different student services focused on mental health and mindfulness. Holly Nelson, from the CU Anschutz Office of Case Management, said her office is focused on “being a resource for all students so they feel at home here.” Dora Safoh said their office’s tagline is “when life happens, come to us.”

It’s important for students to take time to focus on things outside of academic work. A popular question is: what’s your favorite way to destress? Mariel Little, a second-year physical therapy student, said she loves to take long walks at Sloan’s Lake, while Zharkynai Satylganova, a first-year dental student, said she loves music and dancing.


Sansriti Narain, left, and Zharkynai Satylganova, both first-year dental students, enjoy the free food on Wellness Wednesday.

The stress-free fun continues next week with the CU Anschutz Anti All-Nighter on Wednesday, May 8, starting at 5 p.m. with the opportunity to De-stress @ Strauss, including pancakes for dinner, stress-relief activities and a silent disco.

With all these great, stress-free events, students will be zen in no time!

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How do you run a pandemic simulation?

This spring, fourth-year School of Medicine students were once again on the front lines of a pandemic.

Whoa, nothing to worry about! You don’t need to check Twitter, these are fictional pandemics. It’s an annual tabletop exercise designed to teach students preparedness and effective communication in emergency situations. Originally developed by internal medicine doctors Linda Overholser, MD, and Nichole Zehnder, MD, Associate Professor of Emergency Medicine Charles Little, DO, has run the exercise since 2012.

CU Anschutz Today sat down with Little to ask him about his perspective in organizing and running the event the past eight years.

Charles Little, DO, associate professor of emergency medicine

What is the purpose of this exercise?

Medical students don’t really get any exposure to disaster or emergency management throughout their medical school curriculum, unless they show a special interest in doing an elective in some of that type of work. But almost all physicians at some point in their career will be involved in some emergency incident, and we want them to have at least some basic understanding of what the process is.

The exercise does several things:

First, it outlines what happens in pandemic influenza, which historically occurs every 10 to 20 years.

Second, it gives them an overview of what the health emergency response system looks like. It’s not just hospitals; it’s the entire community including clinics:

  • Public health has a very big role in infectious disease outbreaks.
  • Emergency management has an important role in any big event like that.
  • And then, EMS (emergency medical services) and transportation also play key roles.

We want them to have an understanding about all the players, other than just physicians, hospitals and clinics.

The third thing is to give them an opportunity to work in small groups on a “novel event” they really haven’t thought about before, and then do decision-making and generate a plan with limited background and limited understanding of what’s actually going on. They have to work a little bit through the fog of events.

How are students grouped together for this exercise?

We generate the number of spots we’re going to have, which this year was based on the number of community experts we had who were available to come help.  

The one group that we let self-select is the ethics group, because we want people who actually have an interest in that who will participate in those discussions. Right before the exercise starts, we’ve got all the other groups assigned, and then we ask for a show of hands and pick approximately 10 people out of the audience to do ethics.

You break students into six different groups (public health agencies, cities, hospitals, clinics, ethics and the media). Do the students do better at specific “roles”?

I think it’s probably a little easier for them to grasp the clinics and the hospitals. They actually do very well in any of the groups, just because they’re overall pretty high performers, and they’ve worked in groups before. Things like the Office of Emergency Management are pretty far from their kind of previous training and understanding, so I think that and public health are a little harder. I think they all have some limited exposure to EMS, so I think they probably understand that a little better. But overall, they do well in all the groups.

Similarly, are there any roles students are challenged by more than others?

For all the groups, they actually really jump into it pretty well.

Even in things that [don’t] have anything to do with medicine, like the media group, they actually take to it pretty well. They’ll take out cell phones and they’ll start shooting videos of themselves as reporters. They figure out fairly early on in the process what the challenges are, and the goal of the media group is to get them to understand how the media can help you or hinder you, and you have to be forthcoming with reliable information, but not overshare things you’re speculating about.

What trends have you noticed year over year with this exercise? How has the simulation changed?

In terms of the exercise design, I refine it each year, and early on, what I did was I started to refine it to be more in the structure of the tabletop exercises that we do in the emergency management and disaster realm. And that helped to streamline it and make it somewhat easier to administer.

‘It’s a pretty huge undertaking … It’s pretty intense. I think the students understand a little bit about what it feels like to actually manage a real disaster.’ – Charles Little, DO, pandemic simulation organizer

This is actually, as these exercises go, a pretty huge undertaking. We’ve got 180 students, and we’ve usually got about 40 to 50 subject matter experts, and they all have to be coordinated. We’ve gotten better at that over the years.

From the student’s standpoint, it’s very interesting that different classes seem to have slightly different personalities, and some classes are a little more engaged, other classes are a little more reserved. But I think every year, they all get something out of it.

How would you describe the energy in the room during the simulation?

The students are actually very engaged in trying to work through problems, and it’s a pretty high-energy event. Usually they’re pretty tired by the end of two to three hours of doing this, because it’s a lot of decision-making, a lot of concentration, and a lot of active thinking, and responding to information they’re getting both by email from us, but also the requests they’re getting from other groups for support and information-sharing and things like that.

It’s pretty intense in that fashion. I think they understand a little bit about what it feels like to actually manage a real disaster.

What kind of feedback do you get from students afterward?

The vast majority of students find it very interesting and engaging. There are a couple people who clearly don’t like making decisions with no information that are high consequence, and that seems a little distressing to them. Overall, it’s generally a very engaging exercise with something they don’t do frequently. And they recognize that once they leave school, they may be involved in these type of events.

What do you hope the students take away from the simulation?

We want them to understand what any type of public health disaster kind of looks and feels like, and how you would go about managing it. And who your partners would be.

What is your favorite aspect of running the simulation?

It’s really fascinating to watch the students work through this with the subject matter experts. And that, I think, is the greatest thing.

And one other thing I’ll point out is we have about 45 subject matter experts who come year after year and help support this, and that goes from city emergency managers to county and state public health leadership, to people who do emergency management in clinics and hospitals. And I think they do it for a couple reasons.

One is they realize it’s important for the doctors who are generally leaders to have an appreciation of this, but they also have quite a bit of fun doing it. They’re willing to carve out an entire half-day once a year, year after year. That’s been tremendously helpful.

What have you learned personally by doing the simulation?

That’s a good question. I think I’m really impressed with how engaged the students will get with something when there’s a goal set in front of them that’s something they didn’t really consider was probably part of the responsibilities they would ever have, or something they would ever engage in.

I’m pretty impressed with how quickly they adapt, and move forward with that.

I’m also really impressed by the way the community has stepped forward to help support this exercise. I have to do some work to recruit people every year, but it’s been really rewarding to see how people come back and support this because they feel it’s a valuable event for the students.

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‘Mayor of Anschutz’ becomes lead ambassador

Ron Washington, lead ambassador

When it comes to smiling faces and warm dispositions on the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus, they don’t come much sunnier than Ron Washington.

Before retiring last fall, Washington worked in the CU Anschutz Facilities Management Department for 21 years. His departure left a void on campus, most notably among the scores of folks who missed Washington’s gregarious nature and ever-present smile.

Ron Washington and David Turnquist
Ron Washington, lead ambassador for CU Anschutz, shares a light moment with his boss, David Turnquist, Facilities Management, during the podcast.

So, David Turnquist, associate vice chancellor of Facilities Management, thought of a way to bring Washington back to campus: make him the lead ambassador of the campus’s fledgling Ambassador Program. It is actually a revival of an ambassador program that existed many years ago, when volunteers from University of Colorado Hospital staffed an information desk in the lobby of Building 500 (now the Fitzsimons Building) and gave campus tours. The program gradually faded, however.

In the intervening years, CU Anschutz has steadily grown, adding buildings, transportation options and interesting new campus features.

Washington will staff the information desk in the Fitzsimons Building from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Ida Lambert, another retiree who spent many years working at CU Anschutz, will soon join Washington as an ambassador. “The hope is that we can get enough retirees to come back and staff the desk five days a week,” Turnquist said.

The ambassadors will lead tours of the Eisenhower Suite, the art walk and main campus attractions, in addition to providing information to visitors inside Fitzsimons.

Washington, Turnquist and Del Quiel, director of Facilities Management, sat down with CU Anschutz Today for a candid chat about the Ambassadors Program and the reason Washington was the “perfect” choice to re-launch the outreach effort. In this podcast, learn about the mischievous ghosts of the Fitzsimons Building, Washington’s penchant for giving hugs and mooching your lunch, and, finally, why he’s known as the “Mayor of Anschutz.”

When asked about the warm reception he’s received since coming back to campus, Washington said, “It motivated me. I never knew I had an effect like that on this campus.”





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CU Anschutz 360: Tzu Phang talks data science, favorite food and book he’s reading

Tzu Phang at CU Anschutz

Tzu Phang, PhD, is an associate professor in the CU School of Medicine and the Colorado School of Public Health. Better known as Tzu by his students, he teaches and demystifies data science. Outside of the classroom, he advises scientists across campus in designing and analyzing datasets. He also hosts a bi-weekly bioinformatics journal club every other Friday.

You can learn more about Phang and his work with the biocomputing unit for the Colorado Center for Personalized Medicine on his website, Tzuinformatics.

CU Anschutz Today caught up with Phang for a candid, rapid-fire interview to reveal the glamorous side of data science, as well as share his favorite food, day of the week and the book he’s currently reading, “Barking Up the Wrong Tree.” Also, find out why his favorite day of the week is Friday.

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Celebrating female heroes

In the lead up to International Women’s Day on March 8, the CU Anschutz communications team engaged students, faculty and staff on campus in the global event, asking them to pay tribute to their personal female heroes by placing the names of women who inspire them on a #IWD2019 posterboard as a small way of saying thank you.

As the board became populated, the diversity in people’s heroes quickly became apparent. Tributes ranged from Joan Jett, to fellow colleagues, to civic leaders and Supreme Court Justices, to scientific leaders and visionaries such as Marie Curie and Rosalind Franklin. And of course: moms, grandmothers, aunts, sisters, cousins.

Watch a short time-lapse of our heroes project below.

And on this Friday, take a short moment to let someone important to you know the impact they have made on your life. We promise it will make both of your days.

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10 holiday movies and specials for when you just can’t think anymore

Congratulations! You are done with finals. Or not, if you’re a doctor or aren’t a student or you work here on campus. But hopefully you have some time to relax over the holidays and can take an hour or two to watch one of my top 10 favorite holiday movies and specials.

1. How the Grinch Stole Christmas!

The original, from 1966. I’m not sure why Hollywood always has to try to better the best because it’s impossible. This is such a classic and nothing can replace it. Nice try, Jim Carrey.

2. Elf

This is obviously on the list for its plethora of quotable lines, the best being, “You disgust me. You sit on a throne of lies. You stink. You smell like beef and cheese. You don’t smell like Santa.”

3. Home Alone

I could watch this movie a million times and never get sick of it. Also, who doesn’t fantasize about having the house to yourself over Christmas (albeit, without the pesky burglars).

4. The Holiday

Such a great, feel-good movie. It makes me want to house swap for a little London cottage and dance to “Mr. Brightside” in my pajamas, in the hopes that Jude Law will show up.

5. The Family Stone

Definitely underrated, but any movie with Diane Keaton is a winner, so obviously, this makes the cut.

6. A Charlie Brown Christmas

The soundtrack cannot be beat and everyone loves a Charlie Brown Christmas tree.

7. The Santa Clause

What child hasn’t dreamed that her dad isn’t really Santa Claus?

8. Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer 

Again, the original, because who doesn’t love claymation and the island of misfit toys.

9. A Christmas Story

“You’ll shoot your eye out!” will get stuck in your head for the next day and a half.

10. Die Hard

I will admit, I’ve never actually seen this movie because I didn’t have brothers to force me to watch it, but apparently, according to my colleague Matt Hastings, this should be on the list 10 times.

Honorable Mentions from the Office of Communications team

  • Bad Santa

I’m a sucker for dark comedies, and this is one of the all-time darkest. Definitely not recommended for anyone who considers “It’s a Wonderful Life,” “The Santa Clause” or “Miracle on 34th Street” as must-see holiday fare. Billy Bob Thornton is irredeemable in the extreme, until he encounters an oddball child who coaxes a whit of humanity from his circling-the-drain existence. – Chris Casey, managing editor

  • National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation 

There’s something endearing and relatable about watching the Griswolds plan a big family Christmas and everything that can go wrong does, but in the end, the family still comes together. It’s also one of the many reasons we’ve never tried to harvest our own Christmas tree! – Ryan Nisogi, senior director, digital marketing strategy

  • It’s a Wonderful Life

It’s hard to beat this classic. It makes you smile, it makes you cry, it makes you grateful for the life you have – no matter how many times you’ve seen it. “George Bailey, I’ll love you till the day I die.” – Jenny Merchant, creative brand manager

  • Carol

While Kiley watches “The Holiday” in her pajamas and dreams of Santa bringing her Jude Law for Christmas, I’ll watch “Carol” – a romantic drama set during Christmas in 1950-something New York – in my Santa hat and hope Cate Blanchett comes to my home for the holidays. – Kristen “KO” O’Neill, senior director, content strategy

  • Love Actually

Multiple colleagues love this movie, but in my opinion, it still doesn’t compete with “The Family Stone” or “The Holiday.”

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