Project Elder Cool providing air conditioners to elderly - KCTV5

Project Elder Cool providing air conditioners to elderly to help battle heat

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As the Kansas City metro heads into some of the hottest weather it has seen so far this year, the Kansas City Health Department reports the city may have already had its first heat death.

The Jackson County medical examiner has classified the death earlier this spring of a woman in her mid-60s as suspected heat-related. The health department said, in an average year, more people die from heat-related conditions than from all other weather incidents combined.

The recent news is why it's so important to have a working air conditioner and one program wants to make sure everyone has one.

"I really appreciate it very much," Phyllis Perez said.

For people like 70-year-old Perez, who's fighting lung cancer, the hot weather poses a very high threat. She is one of thousands of people who've been given a break in the heat thanks to the Bishop Sullivan Center.

Project ElderCool started back in 2000, after more than 20 people died from heat-related illness in Kansas City in 1999.

"(We help) a lot of individuals. We get thank-you letters that they're able to have dinner now, they're cool, they can sleep better at night. It makes a huge difference," said Kim Clough with the Bishop Sullivan Center.

The folks at Bishop Sullivan deliver and install the a/c units and each family gets $100 toward their electric bill.

For Perez it means a lot more than just comfort.

"It's a lot cooler for me, a lot easier for me to breathe because lung cancer affects your breathing sometimes," she said.

Project ElderCool has installed more than 4,000 air conditioners since the program started in 2000.

Click here for more information on it.

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