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TODAY news for Thursday, June 30, 2008

Loma Linda University Medical Center news

Longtime LLUMC nurse Lavaun Sutton passes away

Lavaun Ward Sutton, MS, RN
Lavaun Ward Sutton, MS, RN
Lavaun Ward Sutton, MS, RN, a veteran nurse of more than 40 years, 32 of which were at Loma Linda University Medical Center, succumbed to a lengthy illness at her home in Loma Linda, California, on May 29, 2008.

Ms. Sutton was born in Glendale, California, on March 17, 1935. An alumna of the Loma Linda University School of Nursing, she attended La Sierra College (now La Sierra University, Riverside), then earned a bachelor of science in nursing from Loma Linda University School of Nursing (LLUSN) in 1957, and a master of science degree in nursing with a focus in cardiac surgery and teaching in 1965. She also held an LLUSN faculty appointment as an associate clinical professor of nursing.

With a focus on cardiac surgery and intensive care nursing, her career spanned 40 years, with seven years at White Memorial Medical Center, Los Angeles, and 32 years at Loma Linda University Medical Center. As a member of the original LLU Overseas Heart Surgery Team from 1963 to 1979, she worked in Greece, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Taiwan, Thailand, and Vietnam.  This team was recognized by vice president Lyndon Johnson and president Richard Nixon.

Concurrent with her work, she volunteered for 30 years with the American Heart Association (AHA). She served on the AHA board and the nursing education committee, pioneering in the development of early electrocardiography classes and coronary care courses for nurses. She taught many parents and families CPR for safe care of their infants and children after their hospital discharge and coordinated pacemaker clinics for 17 years.  

Looking back on her career, Ms. Sutton stated that her best reward came from “helping families cope with the crisis of open heart surgery and seeing students rise to the challenges of intensive care.”

Once retired, she maintained her involvement with volunteer activities, including parish nursing through University Church of Seventh-day Adventists on the Loma Linda campus. She co-founded the Loma Linda chapter of Mended Hearts, Inc., a national support group for patients who have been through cardiac surgery.

In 2003, she received the Woman of the Year Award representing the 63rd District from the State of California Legislature “in recognition of outstanding service and dedication to the people of the State of California.”

Ms. Sutton is survived by daughters, Cheryl and Loree, and her brother, Ellsworth Ward and his wife, Barbara.

In lieu of flowers, all who wish to make a gift of remembrance may honor Ms. Sutton’s lifelong love for cardiac patients and their families through contributions to either of the following programs: Big Hearts for Little Hearts (Loma Linda University Children’s Hospital) or Mended Hearts, Inc., Chapter #34 (Loma Linda University Medical Center).

The memorial service in celebration of her life was held at Loma Linda University Church of Seventh-day Adventists on June 8, 2008.

Contributed report

TODAY news for Thursday, June 30, 2008