household with one individual, and $24,600 for a household of four.
They must be residents of San Diego County and
must not have any health insurance or workers’ compensation coverage. Patients must be ineligible for
any publicly sponsored programs including Medi-Cal,
Medicare, or Covered California—the state’s official
health care marketplace, where individuals, families,
and small businesses can obtain health insurance under
the Affordable Care Act. It is the only place to get federal premium assistance to help buy private insurance
or get health insurance through the state’s Medi-Cal
Patients must agree to follow Project Access San
Diego’s rules, as well as the prescribed treatment
plan. Patients must promptly supply any information
requested by the program, notify Project Access of
income changes, apply for Medi-Cal or other programs
at the request of Project Access, and be on time for all
What are the leading causes of death in the area
where Project Access San Diego provides service?
The leading causes of death among San Diego County
residents in 2010–2012 were malignant neoplasms,
heart disease, Alzheimer’s disease, chronic lower respiratory diseases, and cerebrovascular diseases.
How did you become interested in the health
care challenges facing patients in San Diego?
In 2006 and 2007, I had the privilege of working on a
surgical project in Monrovia, Liberia, with Médecins
Sans Frontières/Doctors Without Borders (DWB). It
was an eye-opening and life-changing experience. It
codified my belief that health care is a basic human
right. The desire to be healthy and have your medical
needs met is fundamental to our humanity. I anticipated
continuing to use the generous sabbatical program the
Southern California Permanente Medical Group offers
to return to work with DWB. However, I gave birth
to my only child in 2009, when I was 40 years old. Her
arrival changed my level of comfort with traveling to
potentially risky environments to provide surgical care
to people in need. With that change in my life, I turned
my attention to my own community, where, sadly,
there are a large number of people who are unable to
access specialty care.
How did you get funding for Saturday Surgery Days?
Since 2008, Kaiser Permanente San Diego has hosted
17 Saturday Surgery Days. More than 570 patients have
been served and more than $3 million in care has been
provided. The funding for the Saturday Surgery Days
comes from the Kaiser Foundation Hospital (KFH),
through its community benefit program. KFH provides the use of its facilities and other services pro bono.
All of the physicians and non-union employees volunteer their time during Saturday Surgery Days. Union
members also volunteer in a fashion approved by their
unions—they are paid for their work and subsequently
donate that money to Champions for Health.
What licensing and government approvals were
needed to start the program?
Our Saturday Surgery Days are done in Kaiser Permanente facilities. Patients are provided 90 days of Kaiser
coverage around the time of their operations (more if
needed). The care is provided under the licensing of
How many health care professionals provide
health care services through the Project Access
Throughout the county, the Project Access network
includes more than 80 referring community clinics;
more than 625 medical professionals who volunteer
The desire to be healthy and have your medical
needs met is fundamental to our humanity.