Piper Invests in New Position to Bring Better Pediatric Care to Phoenix through Creighton School of Medicine


A new endowed chair in the Creighton University School of Medicine will expand the partnership between the Virginia G. Piper Charitable Trust, St. Vincent de Paul (SVdP) and Creighton, providing better, more affordable healthcare to a greater number of children and families in the Valley.

In 2021, Piper Trust invested $10 million in a collaboration between SVdP and Creighton. This added staff and services to the Virginia G. Piper Charitable Trust Medical Clinic while offering Creighton medical, nursing, pharmacy, physical therapy and physician assistant students the chance to learn alongside providers caring for the clinic’s uninsured, underserved patients.

Piper Trust now continues its investment in the partnership with the Piper Chair in Pediatric Medicine, a position created to meet a pressing need at the Piper Clinic: greater care for a growing number of young patients.

“In just a few short years, Creighton University and St. Vincent de Paul have shown us what’s possible; their strategic collaboration is both improving health outcomes in and growing medical professionals for our communities,” said Steve Zabilski, president and CEO of the Virginia G. Piper Charitable Trust.

“Piper Trust is so pleased with our investment in this invaluable partnership, which will now provide greater care to some of the most vulnerable pediatric patients in Maricopa County.”

Prior to Creighton’s partnership, the clinic’s pediatric population was about 6%. Since then, it has nearly doubled. To address this, the Piper Clinic has launched a new pediatrics department, led by co-directors Creighton assistant professor Pam Murphy, MD, and associate professor Sara Beste, MD’09.

“There is such a great need in the community for pediatric care, especially with so many uninsured families in Phoenix,” said Beste, recently named the inaugural Piper Endowed Chair in Pediatric Medicine.

Beste and Murphy are now spreading the word about the clinic and connecting with families through schools, hospitals and other organizations.

“Often, if these children don’t have a personal care provider or insurance, it’s easy for them to fall through the cracks,” Beste said. “We want to do everything we can to prevent that from happening and to let the families know that they have a place they can go.”

Beste and Murphy have been seeing families at the Piper Clinic for the past two years, offering pediatric services two days a week. They now plan to increase the number of days the clinic treats children by recruiting more community pediatricians, both for primary and specialty care.

The gift from Piper Trust also made it possible for pediatric OB-GYN physician and clinical assistant professor Amy Williamson, MD, to join the team, further enabling Creighton and SVdP to deliver the level of comprehensive care the clinic’s patients need.

Other services provided include routine vaccinations for children; pediatric occupational therapy for developmentally delayed children; a pediatric gastroenterologist; and referral access to an agency that will see Spanish-speaking and uninsured patients whose children are suffering from anxiety, depression and/or PTSD.

The clinic’s pediatric department partners with Creighton’s Ambulatory Clinical Education (ACE) program, in which first- and second-year students — 240 total every year — learn from and work with the clinic’s providers.

Beste said that in many cases, a pediatric appointment takes 15 minutes or less in Phoenix. At the Piper Clinic, where uninsured patients seek free care, the appointments last three times that, giving both the learning and the care a much longer runway.

That extra time allows the students to be more thorough and thoughtful, to focus on birth history, growth and development, to look at the social determinants of health beyond biological conditions and to offer culturally appropriate care via interpreters.

“When no one feels rushed,” Murphy said, “when we have the opportunity to really sit with our patients and learn who they are as people, we can provide the best possible care and the best possible teaching.”

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