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One Year Anniversary with St. Vincent de Paul Clinic in Phoenix

Mar 7, 2022
7 min Read
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It’s been a time of growth, ingenuity and innovation for St. Vincent de Paul’s Virginia G. Piper Medical Clinic as its partnership with Creighton University’s School of Medicine in Phoenix marks its one-year anniversary on March 4.  

The partnership was made possible by a $10 million investment in 2021 from Virginia G. Piper Charitable Trust, aimed at increasing access to health care for uninsured patients while offering Creighton medical students a unique clinical experience working with underserved populations.  

Creighton faculty and third- and fourth-year medical students have long volunteered at the clinic. Thanks to Piper Trust’s gift, Creighton medical, nursing, physician assistant, pharmacy, occupational therapy and physical therapy faculty and students have been working together to serve patients at SVdP’s Virginia G. Piper Medical Clinic.

“The pandemic has further underlined the crisis of growing health care disparities,” said Mary Jane Rynd, president and CEO of 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.”

At the heart of the operations is John Anwar, MD, who has served at the helm of the partnership this past year and was recently named the inaugural Virginia G. Piper Chair of Medicine at Creighton University and chief medical officer at SVdP’s Virginia G. Piper Medical Clinic.  

“When these students graduate, 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 graduates will become ambassadors for the community, as they have already done so much to care for the people in it.”

Anwar and SVdP say Creighton’s partnership helps support a wholly unified network operating on a model of interprofessional care, all specialties and services accessible to all patients who need them from providers who understand their needs and are committed to their holistic care.

“These will be among the best-educated health professionals in the state,” said Anwar, “working together to provide a better delivery of care to those who need it most.”

“This is unique because there is a focus on how students in a clinical setting can grow and refine their interview skills before their clerkship curriculum in the third- and fourth years of medical school,” said Randy Richardson, MD, Creighton University School of Medicine regional dean. “Additionally, this partnership allows all first-year students to have a consistent clinical experience as they all rotate at the St Vincent de Paul clinic, with the same outstanding faculty, serving the most vulnerable in our community. The integration from basic science classroom to clinical exam room is incredible.”

Tina Younger, MD, Creighton University School of Medicine clinical science director said the ratio of learner to teacher is kept to 4:1, so there is ample time to teach history taking, physical examination skills, and note writing as well as enriched discussions for clinical decision making.  

The goal of the partnership has been better education, better care, better patient outcomes. Over the past year hospital readmission for uninsured patients treated at SVdP’s Virginia G. Piper Medical Clinic is 3.4%, far lower than the national average of 11.5%.  

“We’re just a year into this partnership made possible by Piper Trust, and we’re seeing such great results already,” said Shannon Clancy, Associate CEO of St. Vincent de Paul. “But in some ways, it’s really just the beginning of something transformative. We hope this clinic can be an example — the example — of how to meet the health care needs of underserved communities.”