The Desert Mission Health Center in the Phoenix Sunnyslope neighborhood began serving the health needs of the community 94 years ago. This week, the community will celebrate the groundbreaking of a new, comprehensive, state-of-the-art healthcare facility to serve a growing number of individuals and families in the area.
Desert Mission Health Center became part of Neighborhood Outreach Access to Health (NOAH) in 2015. NOAH is a Federally Qualified Health Center (FQHC), a designation demonstrating that NOAH strives to, and meets, the needs of an underserved area. Today, Desert Mission Health Center is located in a 6,600-square-foot renovated former church in the Sunnyslope community. The new facility, designed by local architect firm Orcutt Winslow and built by Kitchell, will be more than 23,000 square feet when it opens in late 2021, increasing patient capacity from 4,000 annually to 20,000.
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“Sunnyslope is one of the most socio-economically diverse neighborhoods in Phoenix and we are proud of our deep roots in this community,” said NOAH CEO Wendy Armendariz. “Desert Mission Health Center serves generations of families with comprehensive, compassionate, equitable care every day. With our new facility, we will not only expand space to serve more patients, but we will increase the number of experienced providers as well as enhance the ways we serve and reach our patients.”
Keeping the health center in the same part of the Sunnyslope neighborhood was important. The new locations is within walking distance of the existing NOAH Desert Mission Health Center are other medical facilities and human services that patients value. The land for the new location is on the HonorHealth John C. Lincoln Medical Center campus, and under lease to NOAH from HonorHealth.
“NOAH Desert Mission Health Center has been an important part of both the Sunnyslope community and HonorHealth for nearly 100 years,” said HonorHealth CEO Todd LaPorte. “HonorHealth is proud of our shared history with NOAH. We are honored to help bring this new facility to our community and the patients who rely on its many healthcare services.”
To fund a project of this scale, NOAH worked with several, mostly local, partners to maximize the benefit to the community and with the funds and loans available for nonprofits and FQHCs. One of the first partners to work with NOAH on the new Desert Mission Health Center was Phoenix Community Development & Investment Corporation (PCDIC), which received New Markets Tax Credits – federal funds for investment in distressed, qualifying communities.
“Our investments in underserved communities are focused on improving the lives of those who live and work there,” said PCDIC Board Chair Ginger Spencer. “We’re proud to help make the new Desert Mission Health Center a reality and are confident it will be a gem for the Sunnyslope community and increase access to healthcare for Sunnyslope residents.”
With the New Market Tax Credit secured, NOAH and PCDIC were able to work with Chase and Phoenix-based Raza Development Fund as partners in this project as well.
“We are proud to support NOAH through New Markets Tax Credit financing that will enable them to construct a new health care facility, creating new jobs and expanding their capacity to care for patients,” said Nicole Boone, Executive Director, Community Development Banking at Chase. “We are excited to play a role in a project that will have a tremendous impact on the local community.”
Raza Development Fund is focused on not only supporting integral community programs and efforts, like NOAH, but particularly with a focus on organizations serving Latino and low-income communities. Sunnyslope is a diverse community with around 64 percent of residents being Hispanic and Latino.
“Now more than ever, in this new environment, it has become so apparent that health and healthcare are priorities for all of us,” said Tom Espinoza, President and CEO of Raza Development Fund. “Supporting NOAH to expand their access to more patients will bring healthcare where it is most needed.”
Desert Mission Health Center began serving community members in need in 1927 as a tuberculosis clinic. Today, thousands of people come for comprehensive healthcare and so much more. Together, NOAH, HonorHealth, PCDIC, Community Development Banking at Chase, and Raza have ensured Desert Mission can continue to serve the neighborhood for many years to come.
“The collective efforts of many individuals, organizations, and programs will ensure the legacy of Desert Mission Health Center remains a staple of the community for future generations,” said Armendariz.
To learn more about the history of Desert Mission Health Center and the progress of this new facility, visit NOAHhelps.org.