An Update on Chiricahua Community Health Center’s Activities & Plans in Bisbee


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An Update on Chiricahua Community Health Center’s Activities & Plans in Bisbee

By: Jonathan Melk, MD  Chief Executive Officer

Dear Bisbee Community,

In the mid-1990s, a small group of determined residents of the Sulphur Springs Valley recognized that there were some serious challenges facing family, friends and neighbors in accessing primary care.  Lack of healthcare, reliable transportation, access to medications as well as the necessary family resources was resulting in unnecessary suffering.  Their resulting idea was to start a health clinic in the community of Elfrida.  This desire became reality on August 26, 1996, when a make-shift clinic was opened in the small community center just off Highway 191.  They named the tiny new not-for-profit organization “Chiricahua Community Health Center, Inc.”  Shortly after, Chiricahua gained the status of a “Federally Qualified Health Center” (FQHC), meaning that it became eligible for federal funding to support its operations and become part of the national “primary care safety net”.  These founders developed a strategic plan that boldly set forth a path to provide accessible, quality primary care to all people of Cochise County, regardless of ability to pay.  This strategic plan included the community of Bisbee.

However ambitious or unlikely the plan seemed at that time, Chiricahua has since not only survived the many challenges it has faced, but has thrived, adding and growing services to additional communities via both ‘fixed site’ clinics and our hallmark ‘mobile’ clinics.  Our Bisbee operation opened in April 2003 on 108 Arizona Street.

Operations in Douglas, Sierra Vista and Benson have followed and each operation has grown significantly over time.  On the other hand, while the “Bisbee Clinic” has cared for a steady and respectable patient demand since opening, little has changed in this operation over the years.  Until now.

Opportunity to finally re-invest in our Bisbee services was ignited when Chiricahua wrote for and received a competitive federal facility-improvement grant of nearly $1 million in 2015 to entirely renovate the existing clinic (i.e. the grant did not allow us to build new).  Those familiar with the building know just how inadequate the space was—a maze of narrow hallways and small rooms lacking in sunlight and restrooms.  Architects were hired and a new floor plan that will encourage teamwork, collaboration and efficiency was designed.  The major challenge in moving this project forward was the fact that we had to relocate all clinical services prior to beginning renovation.  To accomplish this, Chiricahua purchased, renovated and licensed several buildings just up the street (308, 310, 312 and 312a Arizona Street).  After a great deal of planning and work, renovation finally began on September 2018.  We are pleased and proud to inform you that the “Bisbee Family Health Center” will open as an entirely remodeled, state-of-the-art primary care facility in the summer of 2019.

In the interim years, Chiricahua has begun investing in pharmacies.  As a FQHC, Chiricahua has the ability to bring a powerful and unique federal drug program called the “340b Drug Pricing Program” to our communities.  The 340B Drug Discount Program is a federal program created in 1992 that requires drug manufacturers to provide outpatient drugs to eligible health care organizations at significantly reduced prices to those who lack health insurance. The intent of the program is to allow covered entities to “stretch scarce federal resources as far as possible, reaching more eligible patients and providing more comprehensive services.”  In short, the 340b Drug Discount Program makes many otherwise very expensive pharmaceuticals affordable to those people without insurance.  Chiricahua pharmacies in Sierra Vista and Benson have proven to be very popular among patients and providers alike and have proven to be of remarkable benefit and even potentially life-saving to patients without health insurance.  With this experience in tow, Chiricahua purchased 307 Arizona Street, and quietly opened a pharmacy for Chiricahua patients on March 25th.

Why for only Chiricahua patients?  While the 340b Drug Discount Program brings a great deal of benefit to our patients and communities, it also unfortunately brings some significant risks for our health center, namely financial risks.  As it turns out, one of the most significant financial risks is when Chiricahua fills prescriptions of people who are not our patients.  In other words, this program was not designed in any shape or form to allow an entity like Chiricahua to open as a “retail pharmacy”, open to the general public.  In fact, the financial losses involved could be so great that Chiricahua would likely not be able to open the Bisbee pharmacy at all.  These regulations were certainly not of our preference nor choosing, but they are the reality embedded into this congressional act.

We haven’t given up though.  There is a possibility of also opening our pharmacy to patients of our Bisbee community partner Copper Queen Community Hospital.  Staff at both Chiricahua and Copper Queen are currently working together on making this complex arrangement a reality. If it turns out to be possible, we are cautiously hopeful that this can be accomplished in 2019.

What about the rest of the space at 307 Arizona Street?  Chiricahua will be remodeling this into a state-of-the-art training and meeting center, bringing up to 75 people regularly to Warren for meetings and education.  And what of our temporary clinic space where we are operating now?  We don’t know yet.  Current ideas include an administrative hub, a dental center, and/or space for some other future clinical or programmatic expansion.

In summary, Chiricahua is proud and grateful to serve the Bisbee community.  We are very excited to offer these enhancements and to bring increased primary care opportunities to the Bisbee and Naco communities.  In addition, we are proud to bring new life to the downtown area of Warren by investing in its buildings and infrastructure.  Finally, we are extremely proud of our thirty-one employees who call Bisbee or Naco home.

Sincerely,

Jonathan Melk MD     Chief Executive Officer, Chiricahua Community Health Centers, Inc

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Locations

Douglas
Early Childhood Center of Excellence

1151 16th St. Douglas, AZ 85607
520-364-5437

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Benson
Benson Family Health Center

335 S. Ocotillo Ave, Benson, AZ 85602
520-586-4040

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Douglas
Ginger Ryan Clinic

1100 F Ave
Douglas, AZ 85607
520-364-3285

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Douglas
Pediatric Center of Excellence

815 15th Street,
Douglas, AZ 85607
520-364-5437

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Bisbee
Bisbee Clinic

310 Arizona Street
Bisbee, AZ 85603
520-432-3309

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Elfrida
Cliff Whetten Clinic

10566 N. Hwy 191,
Elfrida, AZ 85610
520-642-2222

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County Wide
Mobile Medical/Dental Clinics

Serving all of Cochise County.
520-642-2222

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Sierra Vista
Chiricahua Family Dental Center

115 Calle Portal
Sierra Vista, AZ 85635
520-459-3011

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Sierra Vista
Vista Pediatrics Clinic

155 Calle Portal, Suite 700
Sierra Vista, AZ 85635
520-459-0203

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Sierra Vista
Sierra Vista Adult Clinic

155 Calle Portal Suite 300
Sierra Vista, AZ 85635
520-459-3011

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After Hours Advice
After Hours Advice – Asesoría Después de Horario


520-432-3309

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Make a Payment
Pay Your Bill

To Mail a Payment:
PO BOX 845659
Los Angeles, CA 90084-5659
(520) 276-0085

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Sierra Vista
Chiricahua at SEABHS

4755 Campus Dr. Sierra Vista, Az

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Sierra Vista
Chiricahua Pharmacy

155 Calle Portal Suite 600
Sierra Vista, AZ 85635
520-515-8678

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For all inquiries - including questions about billing, employment and media, call 520-364-1429 or email cchci@cchci.org Details >