New Piper endowed chair will lead bold endeavor in Phoenix
In 2021, Virginia G. Piper Charitable Trust invested $10 million to deepen the ties between Creighton University and St. Vincent de Paul’s Virginia G. Piper Medical Clinic. A year later, the partnership is transforming health sciences education and the quality of care provided for underserved populations in the Valley.
“When you’re in the clinic, you see that it just crackles with intensity and passion and joy in serving,” said Shannon Clancy, Associate CEO of St. Vincent de Paul (SVdP). “In a very difficult couple of years, this has been such a beacon of light and hope.
“And there couldn’t be a better person to have at the heart of it all than Dr. John Anwar.”
On Feb. 18, Anwar, MD — assistant professor at Creighton’s School of Medicine in Phoenix — was installed as the Virginia G. Piper Chair of Medicine and chief medical officer at SVdP’s Virginia G. Piper Medical Clinic, a clinic serving uninsured patients without access to care in Maricopa County, Arizona. This is Creighton’s 45th endowed chair and the second at the Creighton University Health Sciences Campus – Phoenix, which opened last year.
“Dr. Anwar has a wonderful spirit of innovation and collaboration, a passion for caring for those in need and an enthusiasm for finding solutions to every challenge,” said Randy Richardson, MD, regional dean, School of Medicine, Creighton Health Sciences Campus – Phoenix. “This made him the obvious choice for the inaugural chairholder.”
Originally from Egypt, Anwar came to the U.S. to pursue medicine, attending the University of California, Davis, for his undergraduate degree, then the Ross University School of Medicine. He soon moved to Arizona to complete his internal medicine residency at St. Joseph’s Hospital and Medical Center in Phoenix, where he later accepted a full-time position.
During his residency, Anwar rotated at the clinic he now helps lead. Since arriving there, Anwar has seen SVdP’s Virginia G. Piper Medical Clinic grow significantly — in the number of patients served, in the services and specialties available, and in the students and faculty helping to provide care.
Creighton faculty and third- and fourth-year medical students have long been volunteering at the clinic. Thanks to Piper Trust’s gift, the clinic now serves as the primary clinical teaching facility for first- and second-year medical students, as well.
“The pandemic has further underlined the crisis of growing health care disparities,” said Mary Jane Rynd, president and CEO of the Virginia G. Piper Charitable Trust. “Through our partnership with Creighton University and St. Vincent de Paul, we are using our collective capacity to provide greater access to high-quality health care for the patients who need it most urgently.”
Medical, nursing, and pharmacy faculty and students have been working together to serve patients at SVdP’s Virginia G. Piper Medical Clinic. They will soon be joined by physician assistant, occupational therapy and physical therapy faculty and students.
The clinic’s infusion of students and faculty is not only giving future health care providers an invaluable real-world experience in serving the underserved; it’s expanding access to preventative, acute and specialty care in the process. Better education, better care, better outcomes for patients.
It’s already shown results. Since Creighton’s partnership, hospital readmission for uninsured patients treated at SVdP’s Virginia G. Piper Medical Clinic is just 3.4%, far lower than the national average of 11.5%.
“When the students who help to serve these patients graduate from Creighton, they will be far ahead of their peers at other institutions, getting a very unique clinical experience years before many medical students are even out of the classroom,” Anwar said. “These will be among the best-educated health professionals in the state working together to provide a better delivery of care to those who need it most.
“They will become ambassadors for the community, as they will have already done so much to care for the people in it.”