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Empowering Community Through Health

Since 2017, The NASCAR Foundation has proudly supported Banner Children’s Community Clinic of Tolleson. Learn more about the clinic in this blog post from program director Megan Christopherson.

I have been managing the Community Clinics for Banner Children’s for about ten years now. As the leader of this program I fill many different roles – I write contracts, build relationships within the community, think and plan strategy, develop reports, and ask people for money. All of this does not include my day-to-day management of my amazing team of Nurse Practitioners, Medical Assistants, and EMT’s who staff each of our clinics.

The Tolleson clinic was born several years ago after I discovered that our hospital, Banner Estrella, was experiencing a high number of children using the Emergency Room for basic health care needs. Collaborating with the CEO of Banner Estrella, I connected with Lupita Hightower, Superintendent of the Tolleson Elementary School District (TESD), and we had an immediate connection. The mission of our program and TESD aligned and we began the process of opening Tolleson’s Community Clinic.

Since opening in 2015, Banner Children’s Community Clinic of Tolleson has served the uninsured and underinsured pediatric population with free primary care services. We see kiddos for basic well-visits or the typical cold or flu, but we also see kiddos coming in with complex health conditions that have been untreated for many years.

Tolleson Grand Opening

Arizona has more than 150,000 uninsured children and ranks near last in the Nation concerning children’s health and poverty issues. It’s for these families that I see our clinic as a safety net, for those who are struggling to make ends meet. Healthcare does not need to be another burden for families who cannot qualify for or afford to pay for health insurance for their children. Our clinics are serving over 3,500 families each year, but there are still so many more families in need of the support we provide.

When you’re serving a vulnerable population, at times it can feel that you can become hidden. We are not revenue producing. Our value is our heart. Not everyone values service or giving so to find partners who have a shared vision and want to join us in our mission is so amazing. As the Community Clinics are philanthropically funded, it can feel a bit precarious as a leader. It is difficult to not have consistent funds coming in to support this program that I love so much. Partnerships like ours with The NASCAR Foundation are vital to our existence and are so encouraging to me and my team.

And while The NASCAR Foundation has brought financial support to our program, enabling us to see more children, that is not all. It has been wonderful to see the community partnership and involvement the Speediatrics Fun Day Festival has brought to the Tolleson community. The event has helped shine a light on our services, but also let those families and children living in our community know that they are seen and valued.

Megan Christopherson
Program Director, Banner Children’s Community Clinics