Chiricahua and Children’s Health Fund have a partnership that works
Published in the Arizona Range News on May 3, 2017 A5, A8
WILLCOX – Chiricahua Community Health Centers, Inc. hosted a visit from the leadership of longtime partner organization Children’s Health Fund. The two organizations will soon celebrate 10 years of partnership in bringing the highest quality health care to America’s poorest children.
Dennis Walto, executive director of Children’s Health Fund said, “You can’t bring services to a community until you’ve built relationships to support it.”
Chiricahua’s chief executive officer, Jonathan Melk, M.D., volunteered for Children’s Health Fund in 2005 to provide medical care to the children of Louisiana in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. Shortly after that experience he came to Douglas and joined Chiricahua as the city’s only pediatrician. Once he began working for Chiricahua, he saw that the services of Children’s Health Fund would help in Cochise County.
Melk said, “Joining with Children’s Health Fund has brought many advantages to Chiricahua’s pediatric and mobile programs. These programs would not be the same without their support. Children’s Health Fund is made up of a remarkable team of professionals that live and work a world away in New York City, yet demonstrate via their years of commitment that they care deeply about the children and families that we serve right here in Cochise County.”
Chiricahua took the visitors to the primary service area for the Children’s Health Fund mobile medical clinic in Willcox and Winchester Heights. Susan Lange, director of community programs for Chiricahua, said, “The focus was to ensure we showed Children’s Health Fund representatives the high-needs areas of our county to see that this population will not be served through a traditional model. Mobile service is the only way to reach them. Seeing the need in person certainly creates a more powerful understanding of the work being done.”
The relationship between Children’s Health Fund and Chiricahua is more than just funding. Although funding for the mobile program is a big part of the partnership, the Children’s Health Fund has been helpful in leveraging relationships for recruitment and retention of pediatricians for Chiricahua. They also provided the first funds for Care Coordination for Chiricahua, which is now a robust service that connects patients to the resources available in the community and helps patients navigate the complicated health care system.
Darlene Melk, M.D., medical director of Southern Arizona, said, “we value all of the support of Children’s Health Fund and their personal presence in taking an interest in our operations.”
Chiricahua Community Health Centers, Inc. is a mission-driven Federally Qualified Health Center and is a tax exempt not-for-profit 501(c)(3) organization. It was founded as a grassroots community effort in 1996 as a makeshift clinic in Elfrida’s small community center and has since grown to be the largest primary care organization in southeastern Arizona. Chiricahua Community Health Centers currently has seven clinics in Bisbee, Douglas, Elfrida and Sierra Vista and four mobile medical and dental units that serve rural Cochise County.