CCHCI holds COVID testing blitz 01 (copy)

Maritza Chavez, a medical assistant with Chiricahua Community Health Centers, Inc. Benson Family Clinic conducts a test for COVID-19 as part of a prior free drive-thru testing blitz. Chiricahua will no longer provide the free drive-thru test sites after financial support ran out.

COCHISE COUNTY — Blitz testing for COVID-19 in Cochise County ended Friday, after officials at Chiricahua Community Health Centers could no longer pay to process the test kits.

Chief Executive Officer Jonathan Melk said Friday that the last of the blitz testing was done in Douglas and Sierra Vista.

Since June 4, Chiricahua has tested 1,749 people at a cost to the clinic of $113,000. The expense was solely for processing the test kits, Melk said.

“That was on our own,” Melk said in a telephone interview Friday. “That amount did not include staff, time and logistics.”

For the last few weeks, Chiricahua has provided blitz testing areas in Douglas, Bisbee, Benson, Sierra Vista, Willcox and Elfrida, Melk said.

“The tests were free and no one was turned away, very few questions were asked,” Melk said.

But once June rolled around, Chiricahua lost the four financial partners that had helped pay for the blitz testing done in May, Melk said.

“Our four funding sources dried up,” Melk said.

The partners included the Arizona Department of Health Services, Cochise County Health and Social Services, the Legacy Foundation and the Children’s Health Fund in New York, Melk said.

Tests administered in May to 2,481 people, cost $127,000, Melk said.

As of Friday, a total of 4,230 tests had been done in the six communities mentioned by Melk. He said Chiricahua would be happy to partner with other funding sources so that blitz testing could be revived.

“We just can’t do it alone,” Melk said.

He said COVID-19 testing would resume Monday for Chiricahua patients only.

Cochise County spokeswoman Amanda Baillie said people can still contact their local healthcare provider and ask to be tested. Baillie said testing for the virus should be covered by health insurance, but it’s recommend individuals call their healthcare provider directly to discuss their options.

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