By Angie Stewart
Simon Cowell of American Idol paid a visit to Chiricahua Community Health Center, Inc. (CCHCI), in Bisbee, AZ to speak with a family who would be benefitting from “Idol Gives Back,” a segment of the hit show that raises funds to benefit various charities.
Through a partnership between “Idol Gives Back” and the Children’s Health Fund, CCHCI received a $450,000 mobile medical unit designed specially to treat children, complete with clinic, waiting area, lab, two exam rooms, restroom, nurse’s station, and wheelchair lift.
While in Cochise County, Cowell was able to see the difficulties poor, isolated communities face when it comes to health care, such as poverty, shortage of medical professionals, uninsured or under-insured patients, language and cultural barriers, and distance from specialty care. For example, members of Cochise County must make the two-hour drive to the hospital in Tucson to receive care.
The new mobile medical unit will eliminate these challenges by bringing primary care to their neighborhoods, so people can stay healthy and out of hospitals. This was one episode of American Idol in which everyone wins! Plus, it brought the national spotlight on the mission and work of health centers. CCHCI Chief Executive Officer Jennifer “Ginger” Ryan asserts, “Chiricahua Community Health Centers is grateful to the Children’s Health Fund for its amazing support to the people of this border region. There is so much more here than issues surrounding illegal entry into our country; economic impoverishment, barriers to health care, lack of available services and language disparities all contribute to the disenfranchisement of local children and their families.” The episode aired on April 21.