The College of Medicine – Tucson’s Whole Health Clinic has received the Arizona Medical Association’s 2020 Distinguished Service Award for its service to the community.
WHC is unique within the Banner – University Medicine system as it mainly cares for underserved populations. Many of the WHC’s patient members have serious mental illnesses, and may be unemployed, without housing, and dependent on Medicaid to cover their behavioral and medical care costs. The clinic’s team provides fully-integrated medical and behavioral health services to Tucson’s vulnerable communities including helping members navigate insurance, recover from addiction, secure housing and find employment.
The WHC opened in February 2015 and was conceived by Psychiatry’s Vice Chair, Patricia Harrison-Monroe, PhD, Psychiatry’s former department chair, Ole Theinhaus, MD, MBA, and Tamsen Bassford, MD, from the college’s Department of Family and Community Medicine.
In honoring the Whole Health Clinic, the ArMA recognized the integrated primary care and community health approach, and the clinic’s targeted outreach to underserved populations, especially people with severe mental illness.
“This award truly validates the vision Drs. Thienhaus, Bassford and I had for a safe and welcoming space, where patients could come to have their mental and physical health issues addressed,” said Dr. Harrison-Monroe. “We envisioned an integrated care setting where an interdisciplinary team approach provided best practice treatment for all, regardless of severity and complexity of needs. We have all witnessed the significant stigma individuals impacted by mental illness continue to face, certainly in the community at large, but sadly also within our healthcare systems.”
People who experience mental illnesses also often have inadequate access to health care, including preventative care, she said.
“We wanted to provide a place where medical professionals were ready and willing to provide excellent health care within a mental health setting, where the team orientation is one of supporting a holistic approach to treating the whole body,” Dr. Harrison-Monroe said.
Ann Mathias, DO, is the clinic’s medical director of clinical services.
“I feel honored to be a part of the Whole Health Clinic team and for us to be recognized for our efforts in this way. I am inspired by working together with an excellent cross-functional team of caring providers, administrators and team members, and by the individualized care that we can provide to our most challenged and vulnerable members of the Tucson community. It is a privilege to be part of the care team,” Dr. Mathias said.
Practice Management Director Lori Wellman, MC, NCC, said winning the award “felt like a direct reflection on the high-quality services provided every day to our members by our staff.
“There are other clinics in town that provide integrated care; however, what we have is unique,” Wellman said. “The turnover rate at the Whole Health Clinic is only 3%. That is unheard of in this field. Staff are satisfied with their jobs, which translates into high-quality services and very satisfied members. Hearing success stories from our members about obtaining employment or securing long-term housing because of the hard work put in by their treatment team makes me incredibly proud.”