Mariposa Community Health Center


Accessibility is the heart of our mission. You can have the best technology in the world, the best trained and dedicated staff in the world, but if people can’t get in your door because of economic, geographic, or cultural barriers, then you’re really not able to make a differences in people’s lives, and that is what Mariposa is all about.  When you’re truly about making a positive difference in people’s lives you go the extra mile. 

Mariposa is anchored by the core value that “health care is a right, not a privilege” and to that end, we are dedicated making our services available to everyone in the community, regardless of their ability to pay.

In 1980, Mariposa Community Health Center was founded as the clinical division of the Santa Cruz County Health Department, located on La Castellana Drive in Nogales, Arizona. Dr. Tad Pfister, the health officer for the Santa Cruz County Health Department, recognized that there was a tremendous need in the County to make primary medical and dental care available to everyone regardless of their economic circumstances.  He set out to find the funding at that time as there was a federal health initiative that had grant funding available to start clinics in medically under-served and rural areas.  With the help of the staff at the County Health Department, the first grant was written in 1979 to begin this new project as part of the County Health Department. When Dr. Pfister was notified that the funding was received in early 1980, he contacted James R. Welden and asked him to spearhead and implement an innovative new County medical program. Originally from Texas, Welden and his wife, Claudia, had lived in Nogales in the mid-70’s and working at the time in Tucson.  Welden assessed the potential of the project and its goals, and chose to accept the opportunity and remained as CEO until his retirement in 2015.


Mariposa is governed by a community-based, 12 member Board of Directors, over one-half of whom are patients at the Center.  They are progressive, insightful and incredibly supportive of the leadership team and the staff at Mariposa.

The Health Center embraces a “one-stop shopping” model of care. Patients can get a complete array of primary care medical and dental services at the main campus, e.g. provider visit, pharmacy, mammography, x-ray, lab, ultrasound, behavioral health assistance (adult medicine), telemedicine consults, referrals and eligibility assistance for The Marketplace, AHCCCS, Mariposa Health Plan and Santa Cruz Health Connection, WIC services and breastfeeding education and assistance.  Mariposa’s Community Health Services Department (Platicamos Salud) is nationally recognized for deploying innovative, community-based healthy strategies in Santa Cruz County to make a positive difference in our patients, as well as the community at large. The community-based wellness and education programs are related to chronic disease, nutrition and fitness, prenatal education and home visiting, neighborhood revitalization, case management and assistance with a community support group, youth leadership training, plus numerous other services in collaboration with the schools and other community partners.

At Mariposa Community Health Center, “Our family is your family”.


Patients Served 1980: 1,500

Patients Served 2017: 22,852


Click here to see Mariposa’s complete history and timeline.

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