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Jesse Jones meets with local woman relieved of medical debt

A Des Moines woman’s life changed thanks to the generous donations of KIRO 7 viewers. Michelle Chinnick received a yellow envelope from RIP Medical Debt that said KIRO 7 had forgiven her medical debt.

Chinnick is one of thousands Jesse helped to wipe their medical debt clean.  After hearing of local families buried in medical debt, Jesse Jones and KIRO 7 wanted to help.  KIRO 7 spent $12,000 and purchased $1 million worth of medical debt owed by viewers in our region.  And we forgave every cent of it.

Chinnick said she never expected to receive a gift like this.

“The last two years, I’ve tried so hard to get out of the debt that I created for myself,” Chinnick explained.

Chinnick is a recovering meth addict.  For two decades, she battled demons and debt.  She told Jesse her addiction eventually landed her in prison.

“On February 5th of 2015, DOC raided my house… because of my using,” Chinnick said.  “I lost everything, everything. My family… and I had to start from scratch.”

Then, she decided to make a change.  Chinnick went to a ministry that she said helped her gain and keep her sobriety.  Today, Chinnick has a job serving as a manager at a motel in Des Moines.  In addition, she now has custody of her 3-month-old grandson.

“I have all my family back now,” Chinnick explained.  “I have a good job, and I’m slowly paying my bills off.”

Some of those bills were big medical bills.

“I have so many bills that it… it was never ending,” Chinnick said.

So the arrival of a yellow envelope couldn’t have had better timing.

After our original story aired, many viewers reached out to see how they could help.  And they stepped up in a big way, donating over $27,000 to help get rid of medical debt in our region.  Because of generous donations by viewers, KIRO 7 and its viewers, through the charity R.I.P. Medical Debt, have now purchased more than $3.5 million worth of debt and forgave it all, including Chinnick’s share of $3,400.

“This has just been a huge blessing,” Chinnick said.  “It was a matter of bankruptcy or no bankruptcy.  And I don’t have to file bankruptcy now.”

If you want to donate to help eliminate medical debt in our region, click here.

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