Ribbon cutting at Sonoran, Piper, SVdP clinic partnership

Sonoran University opens clinic at SVdP Washington Street shelter

A generous grant by Virginia G. Piper Charitable Trust is helping launch the new naturopathic-focused care for residents of the shelter

In a morning devoted to the love and care of the most vulnerable, Sonoran University of Health Sciences and the Society of St. Vincent de Paul celebrated the official opening of a new health care clinic at SVdP’s shelter on Washington and 28th streets in Phoenix. The clinic partnership is made possible by a grant from Virginia G. Piper Charitable Trust

Shannon, Steve, Dr. Mittman
(From left) SVdP Rob & Melani Walton Endowed CEO Shannon Clancy, Virginia G. Piper Charitable Trust President and CEO Steve Zabilski, and SPresident and CEO of Sonoran University of Health Sciences Dr. Paul Mittman gather to celebrate the opening of SU's new clinic at SVdP's Washington Street shelter.

"You take the Society of St. Vincent de Paul and Sonoran University, and they are two truly wonderful organizations that are absolutely excellent in what they do, and the fact that they are now coming together to serve those who are least fortunate in our community is a very special opportunity," Virginia G. Piper Trust President and CEO Steve Zabilski said. "The Piper Trust wanted to support and be part of this effort."

The project aims to increase the shelter residents' access to basic health care, provide them with quality services and teach them preventive practices. Program features include:

  1. Access to medical care for prevention and early identification of health conditions. 
  2. Access to non-opioid pain relief. 
  3. Support for nutritional deficiencies.
Dr. Paul Mittman
Dr. Paul Mittman, President and CEO of Sonoran University of Health Sciences, shares his message of teaching and offering kindness, love, and holistic care with the crowd during the event's press conference.

During the project’s span, Sonoran University’s clinic will operate for 20 hours per week. This amounts to over 1,000 hours of services and over 2,000 patient visits.

The grant awarded by Piper Trust will support start-up costs to launch the clinic.

"Sonoran University of Health Sciences has been working, providing health care to marginalized communities for 27 years now. To partner with St. Vincent DePaul, with its commitment, dedication, and also the humility its Vincentians bring to their work so aligns with what Sonoran University is about," said Dr. Paul Mittman, President & CEO of Sonoran University. "I can't imagine a better partnership.” 

Dr. Joseph Vasquez
Dr. Joseph Vasquez, Sonoran University's Associate Dean of Clinical Education, gives a tour of one of the three clinic exam rooms inside Washington Street shelter. 

Sonoran University of Health Sciences aims to train the next generation of healthcare practitioners, naturopathic doctors, nutritionists, and soon clinical mental health counselors. It conducts research, explores natural therapies, and provides care, both at its Tempe campus and its seven free clinics around Maricopa County, now including the clinic at SVdP's Washington Street shelter. 

"What we bring from a naturopathic medicine standpoint, is treating the whole person," Dr. Mittman said. "And really starting from a place of loving kindness, where we don't just don't presume to know a person's story until they tell us. And when they tell us, it's an opportunity to engage, and to do so with respect and humility."

This approach aligns well with the approach of SVdP's Washington Street shelter, which looks not only to temporarily house 200 people, but also provide holistic support and wraparound services to men and women who strive to overcome homelessness and move forward in their lives. Shelter guests live in the program full-time until they can move into more suitable, sustainable, and often permanent housing.

Kesha Hodge Washington
In attendance to celebrate the opening of the clinic was Councilwoman Kesha Hodge Washington, who represents District 8 in which SVdP's Washington Street shelter is located.

"So many of the residents that we serve here at the Washington Street interim housing community, have come to us after being outside for a really long time, working so hard to try to meet their needs for food and water, and just surviving every day on the streets, that sometimes their health needs get put in the backseat," said Shannon Clancy, SVdP's Rob & Melani Walton Endowed CEO. 

"That's why we're so grateful to Sonoran University of Health Sciences and Virginia G. Piper Charitable Trust for making this partnership possible," Clancy continued. "For our residents to have someone from Sonoran University, the faculty and the students here, to be able to talk with them, and really pay attention to their needs
—their nutritional needs, their overall wellness, some of the preventative care they may not have had for years. That's really powerful."