Dr. Brianna Hillier partners with Ronald McDonald to provide free oral care for kids in out-of-the-way southern Arizona.
WHEN THE Chiricahua Community Health Center’s Molar Patroller couldn’t take its services on the road any longer, the Ronald McDonald Care Mobile pulled up to save the day. The community health center and the famed burger clown’s eponymous charity house, you see, are now partnering to provide free oral-health care to children in Cochise County, a rural outpost in far southeastern Arizona.
Dr. Brianna Hillier, director of dental services at CCHCI, helps the people of Cochise County by offering oral care to all regardless of ability to pay. Through its partnership with Ronald McDonald House Charities of Southern Arizona, it’s able to redouble its efforts for pediatric patients.
CCHCI’s dentists work out of the Care Mobile, a dental office that travels to schools and communities throughout the immense county, which is roughly the size of Rhode Island and Connecticut combined. CCHCI’s own delightfully named Molar Patroller operated for a decade until 2014, when the group determined the vehicle had become outdated. Patients, Dr. Hillier reports, can’t wait to see the new ride.
“[Parents] would come in for checkups and say they really missed seeing us out at the schools, and the kids did as well,” she says. “When they heard we were coming back, they were very excited.”
The Ronald McDonald vehicle enables CCHCI to bring a three-operatory practice, with a dentist and hygienist on duty, to local schools for children with limited access to health care. Many families in Cochise County are an hour or more from the nearest dentist. “We bring the offices to the kids so we can see them, get their checkups and communicate with their parents about what we see,” Dr. Hillier says.
CCHCI ultimately plans to offer care to children from infancy on up. It will also visit kids near the Mexican border and in underserved agricultural areas. “Our idea is to make sure every child has the opportunity to establish a dental home, whether with us or someone else,” the doctor adds.
The CCHCI’s Ronald McDonald Care Mobile—the first such facility in Arizona—was unveiled June 15 at the grand reopening of a McDonald’s restaurant in Willcox, Arizona. Providing free mobile care in such an environment is challenging, Dr. Hillier says, but collaborations make it easier. “The Ronald McDonald House Charities of Southern Arizona were a ginormous help,” Dr. Hillier says. “They were the help.”
For more information, visit CCHCI.org.To help, please make a donation to your local Ronald McDonald House chapter: RMHC.org