NOAH Desert Mission Health Center: Transforming the Health of Our Community

NOAH Desert Mission Health Center: Transforming the Health of Our Community

The Desert Mission Health Center in the Phoenix Sunnyslope neighborhood began serving the community’s needs giving medical aid and food to the needy 94 years ago and has continued to provide services through many decades.  It became part of Neighborhood Outreach Access to Health (NOAH) in 2015, a Federally Qualified Health Center (FQHC).  Its FQHC designation demonstrates that NOAH strives to and meets the needs of an underserved area with a great reception from the community. Currently located in a 6,600 square-foot renovated former church in the Sunnyslope community, the Desert Mission Health Center has served generations of families with comprehensive, compassionate, and equitable healthcare every day.


This week, the community will celebrate the groundbreaking of a new, comprehensive, state-of-the-art healthcare facility. When the new facility opens in late 2021, it will be more than 23,000 square feet, increasing patient capacity from 4,000 annually to 20,000.  Sunnyslope is one of Phoenix’s most socio-economically diverse neighborhoods and keeps the health center in the same part of the Sunnyslope neighborhood and within walking distance of the existing NOAH Desert Mission Health Center. The land for the new location is on the HonorHealth John C. Lincoln Medical Center campus and under lease to NOAH from HonorHealth.

To fund a project of this scale, NOAH worked with several, primarily local, partners to maximize the benefit to the community with the funds and loans available for nonprofits and FQHCs. One of the first partners to work with NOAH on the Desert Mission Health Center was Phoenix Community Development and Investment Corporation (PCDIC), which received New Market Tax Credits-federal funds to invest in distressed, qualifying communities.  With the New Market Tax Credit secured, NOAH and PDIC were able to work with Chase and Phoenix-based Raza Development Fund (RDF) as partners in this project as well. RDF is focused on not only supporting integral community programs and efforts, like NOAH, but particularly with a focus on organizations serving Latino and low-income communities.

Recently Melissa McDonald, RDF’s Chief Operating Officer, had the opportunity to visit the NOAH Desert Mission Health Center and met with Michael Pearson, NOAH’s Director of Marketing and Engagement, and Michelle Pabis, VP, Government Relations for HonorHealth. Melissa realized and shared with our RDF team that “it was evident how much our organization’s missions are aligned and (we share) the compassion they have for the community” not only because of the collective time she spent talking with Michael and Michelle, but their collective call to action.

RDF’s Specialty Finance Team closed on the $7.5 Million source loan for this New Market Tax Credit (NMTC) project to help NOAH build a new clinic in the Sunnyslope neighborhood and is proud to join NOAH’s Board of Directors and their support team to celebrate the virtual groundbreaking this week. Investing in healthcare is consistent with our founding principles of serving the poor, respecting the dignity of the human person, and solid business practices.  It’s an integral part of RDF’s mission of investing in organizations that provide low-income families with access to dignified and affordable health care, especially primary health care and wellness programs as opposed to treating illnesses. A health community is a vibrant community.

What the community is saying about NOAH

At every level, our RDF team deeply cares about the work they do to build stronger people, families, and communities. Sima Thakkar, RDF Investment Associate, Specialty Finance, shares, “this project to expand NOAH’s Desert Mission Clinic is very meaningful to me, especially in demonstrating how access to affordable and flexible capital can support the critical work of FQHCs in reducing disparities in health equity by ensuring all residents in the Sunnyslope community have access to essential healthcare services.” Pedro Chaves, RDF’s Senior Credit Underwriter who worked with Sima on the financial analysis for the NOAH credit approval request and recommendations shared “it fills my heart with pride and joy to be able to help one of the largest FQHCs in the nation which serves, in its majority, patients below federal poverty guidelines.”

Gersen had been experiencing a lot of mouth pain making it difficult to eat. While at NOAH’s back-to-school event, Gersen’s mom noticed a sign for free dental screenings and was able to get Gersen the care that he needed.

Together, NOAH, HonorHealth, the Phoenix Community Development Investment Corporation (PCDIC), Community Development Banking at Chase, and RDF have ensured that Desert Mission can continue to serve the neighborhood for many years to come. The new health center will enable NOAH to triple its capacity to serve the community from just under 4,000 patients annually, many of which are low-income persons, to 20,000 annually. “Supporting NOAH to expand their access to more patients will bring healthcare where it is most needed,” said Tommy Espinoza. The work, our RDF Familia, does every day builds stronger communities and changes lives.

Watch the virtual groundbreaking.