The COVID-19 pandemic increased behavioral health needs in our community as residents grappled with loneliness, isolation and reduced access to care.

El Rio Health is addressing these needs by bringing much-needed physical health services to midtown Tucson as well as mental health services to local youth, with philanthropic support from TEP.

El Rio opened its new Grant Health Center this spring and launched a pilot project for mental-behavioral health services for children as young as 12 years old. The donations continue TEP’s support for these and other initiatives at El Rio reflect our philanthropic focus on community assistance, as well as our emphasis on racial and social equity.

“El Rio’s forward-thinking vision will help enhance the lives of the diverse clients who rely on El Rio’s services,” said Lisa Hoye, TEP’s Director of Internal Audit, who serves as an El Rio Foundation board member. “TEP is delighted to support these new initiatives that align with our company’s values.”

Grant Health Center

In conjunction with El Rio’s 50th anniversary in 2020, TEP donated $50,000 to the center, which will bring accessible, affordable health services to 4,000 community members at a one-stop location where services are limited.

On May 4, El Rio opened its doors to the new center at East Grant Road and North Dodge Boulevard, in a neighborhood identified with high needs. As of 2018, when planning began for the center, about 87 percent of residents in that zip code were living in poverty; 85 percent considered their health to be either poor or fair.

“The opportunity to work alongside TEP to provide integrated services is going to be a critical change for this community,” said Brenda Goldsmith, Executive Director of the El Rio Foundation. “It’s a brand new area for El Rio. We’re super excited about this.”

Mission of Hope

TEP provided a $25,000 grant to help launch the Mission of Hope pilot project, which is a new division of mental-behavioral health services designed to serve up to 300 youth. The grant helped El Rio meet a $125,000 match goal to activate the project, housed at El Pueblo Health Center.

Over the past few years, El Rio saw increased demand for mental health services among young people facing addiction and suicide risk. El Rio has expanded its team with a bilingual psychiatrist and other behavioral health team members, with plans to begin offering services by early summer.

“The community is very excited that El Rio can start this project because we are very concerned about our youth,” Goldsmith said.

El Rio is promoting these services in a new 30-second commercial developed with input by local youth.

TEP Partnership

In addition to serving the community at large, El Rio has played a role in keeping TEP employees healthy.

At the start of the pandemic, El Rio employees conducted health screenings and temperature checks for TEP employees who could not work remotely. In addition, El Rio health professionals have provided seasonal flu shots to TEP employees.

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