Homar Vargas, a father of two with another child on the way, suffered chronic pain and discomfort from a hernia since he was a child. The 32-year-old line cook recently decided that he would tackle the high cost of surgery by taking a second job.
He was then seen at his local community clinic, and was referred to AccessOC Southern California, an organization that coordinates high-quality specialty care for underserved and uninsured populations. He was accepted as one of 25 patients to receive free surgery at Kaiser Permanente Orange County’s Community Access Day — also known as “Surgery Day” — on May 17.
Throughout the year, Kaiser Permanente medical centers in Southern California partner with community clinics to provide free surgeries to those who need them. In 2013, dozens of physicians, nurses and staff members from medical centers provided 162 free surgeries. Procedures include gallbladder and hernia repair, cataract surgery, fistula repair, cataract removal and diagnostic colonoscopies.
So far this year, Kaiser Permanente medical centers in Fontana, Orange County, Riverside, San Diego, and West Los Angeles have participated. Free surgeries are also planned in the fall by Baldwin Park, Fontana, San Diego and South Bay staff.
“Committing resources to improving the health of our underserved populations is an integral part of Kaiser Permanente’s mission,” says Georgina Garcia, RN, executive director, Kaiser Permanente West Los Angeles Medical Center.
“This program demonstrates our commitment to providing life-saving and life-enhancing services that would otherwise be out of reach to these patients,” explains Clare Thomas, doctor of osteopathic medicine and Community Access Day co-champion at West Los Angeles Medical Center. “We are able to improve these patients’ quality of life, allowing them to go back to work, care for their families, and resume their normal lives.”