Maricopa Integrated Health System (MIHS), soon to be Valleywise Health, has been awarded $650,000 from the U.S. Health Resources & Services Administration (HRSA) to provide expanded preventive and primary care services at each of its 12 Community Health Centers. This grant provides MIHS the opportunity for all of its Community Health Centers to be designated as Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHC). MIHS was one of three providers in Arizona to receive this grant.
“Naturally, we’re thrilled to receive this grant as well as the opportunity for our centers to be designated as FQHCs,” said MIHS President and CEO Steve Purves. “As the only public teaching health system in the Valley, this grant will help us extend capabilities to provide care for safety net patients who are on Medicaid, the AHCCCS plan or who lack insurance,” he continued.
One of the first areas where the grant is intended to be applied is the expansion of mental health care into the primary care services that are provided in the 12 health centers. This involves training primary care physicians, nurse practitioners, physician assistants and nurses to inquire about and identify behavioral health issues during patient exams. Already, four MIHS Community Health Centers in Avondale, Mesa, Maryvale and Phoenix have expanded behavioral care through this training.
“We’re working extremely hard to expand our behavioral health services, which is a tremendous and often unmet need across the Valley,” said Purves. He added, “While this grant helps us extend behavioral services in the outpatient settings of our Community Health Centers, we are also in the process of opening nearly 200 inpatient beds at our behavioral health center in Maryvale.”
The MIHS behavioral health center in Maryvale opened in April, 2019. It was funded through Proposition 480 funds that were overwhelmingly approved by voters in 2014. All three of MIHS’s behavioral health centers (Maryvale, Mesa, Phoenix) exclusively provide care for court-ordered evaluation and treatment patients.
“The enhanced behavioral care we are now able to provide in our Community Health Centers will be a tremendous benefit for patients in need,” said Kevin Lopez, MD, Medical Director for the Clinics and Chief of Staff of Maricopa Medical Center (Soon to be Valleywise Health).
The grant funding for FQHCs across the country will require Congressional approval prior to Monday, September 30. The National Association of Community Health Centers is mobilizing citizens to urge their Congressional representatives to approve this funding.
“This HHS grant recognizes the high performance and hard work of our care teams in our Community Health Centers,” said Barbara Harding, MIHS Sr. VP Ambulatory Services and CEO, FQFC. “This includes our terrific primary care physician partners at District Medical Group,” she added.