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El Rio Health’s Mission is to improve the health of our community through comprehensive, accessible, affordable, quality and compassionate care. Our Vision is to be a national model of excellent healthcare.
We are dedicated to providing healthcare for all people. Since El Rio began in 1970, we have grown to serve one out of every ten Tucsonans. We are proud to be one of the most innovative, highly regarded, non-profit health centers in the United States. We focus on positive outcomes, treating the whole person. Our healthcare is delivered by compassionate, professionally trained, integrated health teams who give from their hearts to provide world class care. “Your Health is Our Passion.”
Today, approximately ten percent of Tucsonans trust us with their care. El Rio receives funding from many health insurers, patient co-pays from our sliding fee scale, government grants and private donations to El Rio Health Center Foundation.
El Rio Health is a Federal Tort Claims Act Deemed Facility. This health center receives HHS funding and has Federal Public Health Service (PHS) deemed status with respect to certain health or health-related claims, including medical malpractice claims, for itself and its covered individuals.
In the late 1960s, President Lyndon B. Johnson declared a “War on Poverty” and the concept of neighborhood health centers was born.
Against this national backdrop, local advocates on the west and south sides of Tucson were building new communities in the barrios and fighting for basic services, including healthcare.
At the same time, the founding dean of the new College Of Medicine at the University of Arizona – Dr. Merlin DuVal – wanted a new way to train young medical students and saw that a neighborhood health center would provide that opportunity while serving the healthcare needs of the underserved. He enlisted the help of Dr. Herb Abrams who had already worked with a community in Chicago to build one of the first centers there. Abrams connected with local leaders in the barrios and enlisted their support.
With the donation of a building by Pima County and $50,000 for renovations, along with a federal grant, the first El Rio neighborhood health center opened in October of 1970 with a small staff of health professionals offering primary medical and dental care. El Rio Health is now one of the largest, most highly regarded integrated health centers in the country.