New Maricopa clinic offers counseling, psychiatric services

People walk into American Medical Associates new mental health clinic near John Wayne Parkway and Smith-Enke Road on March 21, 2023. The clinic is located inside the old First Arizona Title Agency, which still bears its old signage. Monica D. Spencer/InMaricopa

Maricopa residents living with a mental-health condition now have a closer, faster option for care.

American Medical Associates expanded its mental-health services in Maricopa on March 21 with a new clinic near the northwestern corner of John Wayne Parkway and Smith Enke Road. It is in the vacated First Arizona Title Agency temporarily until the practice builds a permanent space.

Atif Farooqi of American Medical Associates. [Bryan Mordt]
“Maricopa right now doesn’t have very much mental-health support in the community, which is why we’re jumping the gun a little bit,” AMA’s Business Developing Manager Atif Farooqi said. “We bought land here. We are looking to build from the ground up. Until then, we didn’t want to wait two more years to have this service in Maricopa.”

With more than 1 million Arizona adults living with a mental-health condition and minimal care options, the practice found a growing need for these services here. While it previously offered limited counseling appointments for patients, AMA opted to incorporate psychiatric services with this expansion.

“A lot of people just need help. It’s just that chemistry in the brain is not working the way it normally could,” said Lleva Groves, a psychiatric mental-health nurse practitioner for AMA. “Psychiatry is there to help bring everything back into balance and to help you succeed.”

She worked with adolescents prior to coming to the Maricopa facility but mental-health issues can affect any age, she said.

“I saw COVID really take an effect on (young people) as far as not being able to be out with friends, going to the movies or the mall,” Groves said. “Things that were pretty normal for us growing up just weren’t in the picture for them for two years. A lot of these patients are coming back with social anxiety. They’re having a lot of depression.”

That extends to adults and geriatric patients, she added.

“Especially for them, they’re afraid to go out, not wanting to get sick,” she said. “They’re going through the same issues.

“Psychiatry is there to help bring everything back into balance and to help you succeed.”

Gilbert-based AMA came to Maricopa in 2016 and consistently has increased its range of services. The expectation is the clinic will see patients suffering from depression, anxiety, mood disorders such as bipolar, schizophrenia and severe mental illness. There are no plans yet to treat addiction.

AMA founder and owner Dr. Ehreema Nadir had hoped to add mental health to its list of services in Maricopa since its inception here. Among the first benefits of in-person services is building that rapport between the patient and the provider.

“Generally what happened was mental health was a completely different beast when it comes to medicine,” Farooqi said. “When we referred out for mental health, we never heard from providers, we never heard what was going on. A lot of times, appointments weren’t available for months and months out, so patients would just get lost.”

A growing need for Maricopa

Being under-served in mental-health care drove expansion of the Maricopa facility, according to Farooqi.

Nadir added that referrals from internal-medicine clinics often led to patients waiting weeks or months for an appointment.

Dr. Ehreema Nadir, founder and owner of American Medical Associates, stands for a photo outside their new mental health clinic in Maricopa on March 21, 2023. Monica D. Spencer/InMaricopa

“There’s a mental-health need everywhere,” Nadir said. “There are a few providers in town but the wait time is ridiculous. We wanted to establish a practice where people had the opportunity to be seen sooner than three months. If you’re going through a crisis, you don’t want to wait three months.”

AMA plans to leave some availability for same-day appointments. The clinic accepts all major insurance providers, including Medicare and ACCCHS. It also plans certain discounts for people who are paying out-of-pocket if they don’t have insurance.

“For ACCCHS, we have to do a prior authorization,” Farooqi said. “A lot of insurance companies, they require an actual referral prior authorization be sent to them to review. Then they authorize for that person to be able to be seen by a psychiatrist or for counseling services.”

Currently, Northern Lights Therapy, Wells Counseling Services and La Frontera EMPACT Suicide Prevent Center are other mental-health clinics in Maricopa. A handful of other therapists and psychologists can be found via an online search, but availability and accessibility varies.

That often caused patients to travel long distances just to see a therapist or psychiatrist, the practice discovered.

“A lot of patients would say the same thing: ‘I traveled 45 minutes, I traveled an hour,’” Groves said.  “For them, it’s difficult to find someone.”

AMA’s availability ensures patients can be seen within days, which Groves sees as a major plus.

“Not a lot of providers want to take on this (mental-health) community,” Groves said. “I think it’s great to be a part of a place that cares about everyone and is not selectively picking patients.”

‘You can’t really heal unless the whole body is healing’

Mental health care is “a small piece of the bigger puzzle” when it comes to overall health, according to Farooqi. Groves added mental health often is left out when it comes to caring for the body.

Lleva Groves with American Medical Associates. [Bryan Mordt]
“It’s kind of figuring out the whole picture because you can’t really heal unless the whole body is healing,” Groves said. “We’re here to help guide you to where you need to be to attain your goals for doing better.”

That includes overcoming the stigma surrounding mental-health issues.

“A lot of times, people are not comfortable taking medications for their mental health,” Farooqi said. “Counseling, that’s always the first route. Our counselors and psychologists communicate with our nurse practitioners and internal medicine to try to figure out the whole body. You can start off one place and, as you progress, you can add more stuff.

“Mental health, these days, after COVID it’s one of those things where we should find ways to make our minds better.”

Details: 21300 N. John Wayne Pkwy., Suite 102, in the Maricopa Professional Village center. For more information or to schedule an appointment, visit