FCM MATTERS, News and Updates from UA Family and Community Medicine
March 2022

Accolades, Accomplishments & Impact

Dr. Francine Gachupin Participates in First Lady Dr. Jill Biden's Visit to Tohono O’odham Nation 

On March 8, first lady Jill Biden, EdD, visited the San Xavier Health Center, and learned about the ongoing American Indian cancer health disparities and how the Tohono O’odham Nation, UArizona Cancer Center and its Partnership for Native American Cancer Prevention (NACP) are working together to address these disparities. Dr. Biden was particularly interested in the training of students and in colorectal cancer screening efforts through President Biden’s Cancer Moonshot Initiative. 

Dr. Biden met with Ned Norris, chairman of the Tohono O’odham Nation and Veronica Geronimo, CEO of San Xavier Health Center. She then spoke with FCM's Francine Gachupin, PhD, associate professor; Miguel Flores Jr., chair, NAU-UA Community Advisory Board (CAB); Ann Garcia, CAB member; Tara Chico-Jarillo, health director, Tohono O’odham Nation; Joann Sweasy, PhD, director, UArizona Cancer Center (UACC); and Jenna Hatcher, PhD, director, UACC Community Outreach and Engagement. Also in attendance: Mr. Xavier Becerra, US Department of Health and Human Services Secretary, and Arizona Representative Mr. Raul Grijalva.  

Dr. Gachupin, who also serves as the lead for NACP, spoke to Dr. Biden about her work in cancer prevention and American Indian cancer health disparities:.

"To share my work and personal experiences on cancer with the First Lady and Secretary Becerra was definitely a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity," said Dr. Gachupin. "I took this unique opportunity very seriously and hope I articulated and shared the unequal burden of cancer experienced by American Indians in a way that will garner much needed attention, resources and prioritization."   

View photos and news clips: UAHS photos |  KVOA | AZ Daily Star | Arizona Republic | KGUN | AP News | KTAR-Radio

FCM Sonoran Center's Gabe Martinez Appointed to President Biden's 'Committee for People with Intellectual Disabilities' 

The White House appointed Gabriel “Gabe” Martinez, an FCM Sonoran Center for Excellence in Disabilities program aide, to President Biden’s Committee For People with Intellectual Disabilities.
Martinez was a 2016 graduate of the Sonoran Center’s Project SEARCH, an employment preparation program, and hired two years ago as a program aide/peer navigator. Gabe presents to youth and young adults with disabilities about employment and guest lectures in courses within the College of Medicine – Tucson. Much of his work is in helping people with disabilities learn how to become self-advocates in all aspects of life.
“We are all so excited for Gabe’s appointment. He has time and again demonstrated his leadership as a role model for youth to look up to and as an advocate for disability inclusion in local community organizations,” said Wendy Parent-Johnson, PhD, executive director of the Sonoran Center. “Arizona’s disability community is lucky to have Gabe as its representative on this national platform.” Congratulations, Gabe!  White House announcement  | UAHS story

Wassaja Center's Agnes Attakai Named to Health Equity Council
Agnes Attakai, MPA, program manager for AIRCH at the Wassaja Carlos Montezuma Center for Native American Health, was selected to join the National Rural Health Association’s (NRHA) Health Equity Council and was named to the inaugural cohort of the American Indian Policy Institute’s Indigenous Leadership Academy (ILA) at Arizona State University. Congratulations, Agnes! Read more>>

Dr. Allison Huff MacPherson Receives UAHS 'Career Development Award' 

Congratulations to Allison Huff MacPherson, DHEd, assistant professor, who received a UAHS "Career Development Award." The award will provide support for her research project “Toward Personalized Treatment of Pain using Transcranial Direct current Stimulation Paired with Deep Learning,” under the mentorship of Todd Vanderah, PhD, department head of Pharmacology. The UAHS Career Development Award (CDA) provides research training and funding opportunities for early-career faculty members launching careers in clinical and translational research. Each year, four recipients of the two-year award receive 75% protected time for research, plus salary support and funding for research-related activities and travel. 

Patient Care

Alex Redburn Joins FCM and Banner as Manager for the Targeted Investment Program (TIP)

Welcome to Alex Redburn, MBA, MPH, who joined FCM and Banner Health as manager for the Targeted Investment Program (TIP). The TIP program is an AHCCCS program which aims to reduce fragmentation between acute and behavioral health care and increase efficiencies in service delivery for members with behavioral health needs, by improving integration at the provider level. Services are available at Banner – University Medicine Family Medicine Clinic at Alvernon and Banner – University Medicine Family Medicine Clinic at South Campus

"I am excited to begin a new adventure with FCM and Banner Health as the health and wellness program manager for TIP," said Redburn. "I bring four years of direct experience managing daily operations for integrated behavioral health systems, and have more than eight years of experience leading project teams. My leadership philosophy is based on the fundamental belief that every team member is capable and eager to meet their individual and team goals. As a leader, my primary focus is to work with all stakeholders to understand and remove any obstacles that might get in the way of achieving these goals. I take a collaborative approach that focuses on fostering open communication, building trust, solving problems, and finding solutions. I'm excited to support such a wonderful team that is passionate about providing our patients the best care possible."

Dr. Tammie Bassford Featured in AZ Telemedicine Blog: 'Physician Says Accessibility is Key When it Comes to Patients with Disabilities and Telehealth'

FCM's Tammie Bassford, MD, associate professor, was featured in the recent AZ Telemedicine Blog post article, "Physician says accessibility is key when it comes to patients with disabilities and telehealth." Dr. Bassford explained that many of her patients were severely impacted during times of isolation during the COVID-19 pandemic, when shutdowns and social distancing were in place.

“Many of my patients with intellectual developmental disabilities (IDD) were restricted; they couldn’t go to work or go to their daytime activities – they were at home. They didn’t have access to things that made their days meaningful. Many patients had less access than neurotypical people have to online resources,” Dr. Bassford said. Read article>>

Community Engagement

First Graduates from Pathways to Balance: FCM’s New Certified Recovery Support Specialist Training Program  

Pathways to Balance, a new FCM program tailored specifically for trainees from American Indian communities, recently celebrated its first group of state Certified Recovery Support Specialist (CRSS) graduates. CRSSs are paraprofessionals who use their behavioral health training and experience to help support people with mental illness or substance use disorders, engage in recovery. In Arizona, CRSSs bill Medicaid for their services and work in a wide range of settings, including behavioral health centers, emergency departments, courts, jails, primary-care centers, and schools.

Recognizing a need to expand behavioral health services for American Indians in Arizona, the University of Arizona provided startup support for Pathways to Balance through its Provost Investment Fund. “The program is part of a growing movement to increase behavioral health services by, and for, American Indian communities”, said James Cunningham, PhD, co-principal investigator for Pathways to Balance. The program is being conducted jointly by the UA's American Indian Research Center for Health (AIRCH), FCM's Workforce Development Program, and two American Indian organizations—Holistic Wellness Counseling & Consultant Services and the Native Music Coalition (a Tucson-based behavioral health center). The other co-principal investigator for the project, Teshia Solomon, PhD, noted, “It is a true behavioral health partnership between the UA, FCM and the community.”

Pictured from left to right: David Delawder (Trainer), Ramon Maldonado (Graduate), Vincent Flores (Trainer), Alex Jackson (Graduate), Desiree Saraficio (Graduate), Samantha Sanriquez (Graduate), Christina Armenta Jimenez (Graduate), Michael Armenta (Graduate), Victoria Molina (Trainer), Vyonne Mareno (Graduate), Alex Peterson (Graduate), Rita Romero (Trainer), Raul Duarte (Graduate), Miguel Flores (Trainer)
FCM Program Highlight: Camp Wellness

FCM's Camp Wellness enhances knowledge and skills about health and wellness for low-income adults receiving behavioral health services. A dedicated team of Certified Recovery Support Specialists (CRSS) and caring staff help participants (“students”) reach their full potential for living a healthy and meaningful life. Camp Wellness is located within FCM's UA RISE (Recovery through Integration, Support & Empowerment) Health and Wellness Center, located in central Tucson. Their Camp Wellness On Wheels (WOW) traveling team also delivers quality curriculum to communities across southern Arizona.

Camp Wellness students:

  • Learn how to choose and prepare healthy meals
  • Explore the functions of the human body and how to keep it healthy
  • Join exciting, fun games with fellow students and Health Mentors
  • Enjoy safe, supported exercise
  • Learn from award-winning peer support providers who are Certified Recovery Support Specialists 
  • Experience a positive, challenging and supportive environment of learning
Another component of Camp Wellness's community outreach is the Arizona Palooza, which takes place during Mental Health Awareness Month each May. The team leads a multi-agency steering committee that combines the informational force of a resource fair, the festivities of a carnival (including games for the whole family) with live music and diverse exhibitors. This year's event will be held at Reid Park's DeMeester Center on May 7, from 9am-1pm and they are still accepting exhibitor applications.


Sommer Aldulaimi, MD, FAAFP, associate professor, was invited as an international lecturer for the organization Medglobal. Dr. Aldulaimi gave two virtual presentations to Medglobal Sudan in February. Her lectures, "Safe Motherhood” and “Prevention and Management of STIs in Low Resource Settings” were given to the Medglobal Sudan team of physicians and midwives.

FCM Faculty Participate in National Conversation on Racism and Health

On February 8, the journal Health Affairs hosted a live, virtual symposium to showcase their theme focusing on structural racism and health. Agnes Attakai, MPA, program director for three projects with the American Indian Research Center for Health (AIRCH), within the Wassaja Carlos Montezuma Center for Native American Health, represented a group of UArizona and Tucson-area authors in a live symposium, to discuss the publication, “The Generational Impact of Racism on Health: Voices from American Indian Communities,” by authors Teshia G. Solomon, PhD;  Rachel Rose Bobelu Starks, Agnes Attakai, MPA; Felina Cordova-Marks, DrPH, MPH; Fatima Molina, Michelle Kahn-John, PhD, RN; Chester L. Antone, Miguel Flores, Jr., and Francisco Garcia MD, MPH. Their article presented deeply personal stories collected through their connections with people in their communities in the context of work on Indigenous ways of knowing, community-driven research and engagement, and eliminating health disparities. They described historical trauma and its links to American Indian and Alaska Native health. These stories exemplify the intergenerational effect of racist policies that have left American Indians and Alaska Natives at the margins of health and the health care system. The article described how the “American Indian and Alaska Native Cultural Wisdom Declaration” (2016) can help policymakers eliminate the effect of systemic racism on health—for instance, by lifting constraints on federal funding for American Indian and Alaska Native initiatives and allowing payment to traditional healers for their health services. View video of symposium >>

FCM Sta Highlight

Heather Wolff: Employment Specialist, Sonoran Center for Excellence in Disabilities

Heather Wolff is the statewide coordinator for Project SEARCH at FCM's Sonoran Center for Excellence in Disabilities. "As a statewide coordinator for Project SEARCH, I work as a liaison between the national Project SEARCH team and our individual sites across the state. I assist local sites with technical assistance and ensure that sites are adhering to the national model of Project SEARCH, in addition to growing the program across Arizona," said Heather. Project SEARCH is one of the programs within Employment First, a national program within the U.S. Department of Labor, centered on the premise that all individuals, including those with disabilities, are capable of full participation in employment and community life. "With the right supports in place, and the right job match using that person’s strengths, anyone can be employable," Heather. "I feel passionate about what I do because I see such a need for employment services for people with disabilities. I love what I do because I feel like it's moving to create equal opportunities for everyone." Read more about Heather >>

In The News

FCM's Suzanne Teeple, Patricia Lebensohn and Carlos Gonzales Quoted in AZ Star Article

Suzanne Teeple, director of FCM's  Tucson Family Advocacy Program (TFAP) was quoted in the March 19 Arizona Daily Star article, "Beleaguered health system struggles to treat poor, isolated patients." 

Excerpt from the article: 
The factors that work against an individual’s well-being or a family’s health are multifaceted, said Suzanne Teeple, a Tucson attorney who helps underserved populations as director of the Tucson Family Advocacy Program. Several things are compounding Southern Arizona’s current problems, and poverty is a significant one. Teeple’s program includes a legal-medical partnership in which she works with family medicine doctors to help patients with health-care access issues as well as what she calls other “health-harming problems” such as evictions, trouble getting benefits or a lack of access to healthy food. Teeple also provides free legal services to low-income people who use one of two primary care clinics staffed by the University of Arizona’s Department of Family and Community Medicine providers. She holds six training sessions each year for medical residents so they can learn about the social determinants of health, and how to better advocate for their patients.  Read article>>

Seeking Study Participants

ORCHID Study Looking for Participants

Alicia Allen, PhD, MPH, assistant professor, and her ORCHID Study research team are looking for participants for a research study to support women in recovery from opioid use during postpartum. The purpose of the study is to explore the relationship between hormones, infant caregiving activities and opioid use. Pregnant women between the ages of 18 - 40 are eligible. Complete a short survey to find out if you are eligible >>

PEACH PROJECT Looking for Participants

Alicia Allen, PhD, MPH, assistant professor, and her PEACH Project research team are looking for women between the ages of 10 - 40, who are pregnant and have recently quit smoking. The project aims to identify if hormones can help women stay smoke-free after pregnancy. Complete a short survey to find out if you are eligible >>

Save the Date: 2nd Annual 'American Indian Youth Disability Summit' Friday, April 8th, 9am-3:30pm

This year's theme is Honoring Ancestors' Strength through Advocacy, Culture and Identity. The youth summit will highlight voices of American Indian youth with disabilities and focus on aspects of American Indian life, history, culture and heritage that can help you address today's challenges. Some of the activities youth with disabilities will participate in include: a Traditional Talking Circle, Virtual Café, and a Wiping of Tears Ceremony. More information and registration coming soon.

Mark your Calendars: Arizona Palooza, May 7th, 9am-1pm at Reid Park's DeMeester Center

Since 2017, the Arizona Palooza has brought together agencies from across Tucson and Pima County to deliver helpful information regarding mental health to diverse participants in a fun, informal setting. It combines the informational force of a resource fair, the festivities of a carnival (including games for the whole family) and live music to reduce the stigma that is often associated with mental health. It is a multi-agency grassroots effort led by the Family and Community Medicine's RISE Health & Wellness Center. If you are interested in sponsoring or exhibiting at this year's event, please contact Pamela Wagner at 520-621-7910.


Ivo Abraham, PhD Sommer Aldulaimi, MD, FAAFP
  • Aldulaimi S, Parry H, et al. “Cocciomycosis”. Essential Evidence Plus. Wiley Publishing. Invited chapter. January 2022.
Francine C. Gachupin, PhD, MPH Allison Huff-MacPherson, DHEd Karen Lutrick, PhD Hannah Parry, MD
  • Aldulaimi S, Parry H, et al. “Cocciomycosis”. Essential Evidence Plus. Wiley Publishing. Invited chapter. January 2022.

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