As Arizonans face job and health insurance loss in the fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic, a Phoenix charity is investing $10 million to enhance medical care for uninsured people.
The Virginia G. Piper Charitable Trust is donating the money to Creighton University, which will allow an increased number of the university’s Phoenix-based health science students to staff a Phoenix medical clinic operated by the Society of St. Vincent de Paul, leaders of the organizations said Thursday.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the impact of failing to prepare for and respond to broad, unaddressed health inequities in our community,” Mary Jane Rynd, president and CEO of Virginia G. Piper Charitable Trust, said in a written statement. “The need is urgent, and our response cannot wait. Now is the time for higher education, social services and philanthropy to join and use our collective capacity to create a healthier, more resilient future.”
Faculty from Creighton University’s Phoenix campus, as well as third- and fourth-year medical students from the Jesuit Catholic school have volunteered monthly at the clinic for more than a decade. With the added funding, the St. Vincent de Paul clinic will now serve as the primary teaching facility for first- and second-year Creighton medical students as well, officials said.
Rynd told The Arizona Republic that Piper, a philanthropist and wife of Motorola founder Paul Galvin, was a longtime supporter of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul and believed in its work. She also strongly believed in health care as the foundation to accomplishing anything in life, Rynd said.
“We know that she would have thought this is important,” Rynd said, adding that the aim of the donation is to create sustainable change at the clinic. “We think this can be a game-changer in public health for the underserved. It’s going to be huge. … Hopefully, this will create a healthier community.”
The charitable trust has a longstanding commitment to the Society of St. Vincent de Paul in Phoenix. It has donated so much money to the nonprofit organization’s clinic at 420 W. Watkins Road that it is called the St. Vincent de Paul Virginia G. Piper Medical and Dental Clinic.
Other health sciences students and faculty from Creighton will be part of the clinic’s volunteer staff as well, among them nursing, physician assistant, pharmacy, occupational therapy and physical therapy, using a team-based approach for patient care.
“As Creighton health sciences students consistently rotate through the clinic, it is not only clinical education that is taking place, but an experience at the core of Jesuit education — cura personalis, or care for the whole person, physically, emotionally and spiritually,” Dr. Randy Richardson, regional dean for the Creighton University School of Medicine’s Phoenix Campus, said in a written statement.
The Creighton School of Medicine plans to hire and employ a Virginia G. Piper chair in medicine and chief medical officer, who will be based at the clinic.
The donation is not the first time the charitable trust has donated to Creighton. In 2018, the trust provided the lead grant for Creighton to build a $100 million health sciences campus in Phoenix.
The Virginia G. Piper Charitable Trust Health Sciences Building, housing Creighton’s health sciences program is scheduled to open in September.
Support local journalism. Subscribe to azcentral.com today.