Michael R. Zent Healthcare Center now provides behavioral health services
with primary medical care for patients in Maryvale.
See the Healthcare Center
Kehila. This Hebrew word represents one of the core values of Jewish Family &
Children’s Service (JFCS) –
building community. And that is exactly what JFCS is doing in Maryvale, a community with
the highest concentration of Medicaid recipients in Maricopa County and a
critical shortage of primary care physicians.
JFCS is celebrating the opening of a new integrated medical and behavioral
health center in the underserved Maryvale neighborhood of Phoenix. Over
its 17 years of operation, the former clinic in Maryvale had reached a
crisis due to overcrowding and inadequate space. The new Michael R. Zent
Healthcare Center, named in honor of the highly regarded JFCS CEO who
passed away earlier this year, will be able to serve a growing number
of children and families with complex physical, mental health and substance
Seventy percent of these patients also have at least one ongoing medical
“We are pleased to see the vision that we’ve been working on
for several years come to life,” said Mary Jo Whitfield, Interim
Deputy CEO of Behavioral Health at JFCS. “Now we have the ability
to meet the total healthcare needs for all patients who come to our Maryvale
clinic – not just behavioral health patients.”
The new Michael R. Zent Healthcare Center expands services to an additional
2,000 clients per year,increasing the number of patients served from 6,500 to 8,500 annually. At least 4,000 of these clients are children. The new center was designed
specifically to provide both medical and behavioral health services in
an environment where clinical and support staff work together, sharing
treatment information electronically to determine the best course of action
for each person’s health.
“True to the man himself, the center is cutting-edge and it services
a community in need,” said Dr. Mario Lippy, co-director of the clinic.
“Dr. Zent was very involved with the Latino community – he
spoke Spanish and grew up in Tempe – and many of our patients are
Hispanic. He wanted to provide whole healthcare to a population that has
complex behavioral health and medical issues in order to improve their
Services at the Michael R. Zent Healthcare Center emphasize prevention
and early intervention to stop the development of chronic illness and
acute conditions that can lead to unnecessary hospitalization and emergency
Additionally, a staff clinician is co-located in the Arizona Department
of Child Safety office that serves Maryvale, which has the state’s
highest rate of children removed from the home due to serious abuse
and neglect. As a result, the Michael R. Zent Healthcare Center serves
a large number of Maryvale children in foster care who have severe trauma symptoms.
Approximately two-thirds of the foster-care youth referred to the Maricopa
County behavioral health system are assessed and treated at JFCS, many
of them at the Maryvale clinic.
There are currently nearly 19,000 children in Arizona’s foster-care system.
“Our clinic provides trauma-informed care – our staff understands
how to treat an individual to make them whole again,” Dr. Lippy
said. “We get to do some of the most rewarding work, but it’s
not for everyone. It’s a high-volume, high-stress environment, but
when you’re making a difference in the lives of children, it’s
JFCS’ goal is to use this clinic as a model and replicate the integrated
care approach at its three other healthcare clinics in Maricopa County.
“This clinic represents an opportunity to address social determinants
that hinder access to quality healthcare, ranging from socioeconomic status
to language barriers or lack of transportation, among other factors,”
Whitfield said. “Through health literacy and our outreach efforts,
we believe that patients in our clinic will achieve an improved quality
of life over time.”