to provide pro bono care; 10 hospitals; 14 outpatient
surgical centers and ancillary health services including
imaging, labs, medical equipment, physical therapy;
and so on.
4 Through March 2016, more than 1,400
operations and procedures have been provided, with
a value of care of more than $10.9 million.
4 Approximately 4,500 uninsured patients have been assisted
through this program and more than 11,627 specialty
care appointments have occurred.
4 These numbers are
for the entire county, including the Saturday Surgery
Days that I help plan at Kaiser Permanente San Diego.
Where do you see the future of health care in San
Who knows where the health care situation is heading under the current presidential administration? It’s
hard to imagine it will get any easier for the patients we
serve to get access to health care. Our undocumented
patients may have more reservations about seeking care
due to fears of increased risk of deportation.
What advice would you give to other health care
providers who want to start similar programs
in their areas to work with uninsured patients
I’d suggest investigating whether their communities have a program similar to Project Access. Other
programs may have already laid the groundwork for
patient recruitment and referrals. The next step would
be organizing your health care organization, partners,
colleagues, hospitals, and surgery centers to host a day
or half-day of volunteer operations.
Recruiting volunteers is the easiest part of my job.
I can send an e-mail to my partners and within minutes
have more surgeons than I can use at an event. The
devil is in the details in terms of making an event like
Saturday Surgery Days run smoothly. Our planning
committee includes leaders from surgery and anes-
thesia, as well as nursing administration, pharmacy,
radiology, security, environmental services, media rela-
tions, engineering and facilities, and the laboratory. I’m
happy to be a resource to anyone who has questions
about setting up a similar program.
Describe some of the program’s success stories.
The most memorable stories are those of the people
in whom we diagnose malignancies, which we then
treat. In 2011, a 38-year-old gentleman presented to us
for colonoscopy for hematochezia and iron-deficiency
anemia. He underwent a colonoscopy, which showed
Stage III rectal adenocarcinoma and familial adenomatous polyposis. After diagnosis, Project Access and
Kaiser Permanente San Diego provided him with neoadjuvant chemo-radiotherapy. He then underwent
pelvic exenteration by a team of Kaiser surgeons. His
family, including his children, was also screened for
familial adenomatous polyposis. He is alive, well, and
without evidence of disease and recently celebrated his
daughter’s quinceañera, her 15th birthday.
What can the ACS and OGB do to help further your
mission and domestic volunteerism?
The ACS is doing a great job of getting the word
out about domestic and international volunteerism.
The awards for humanitarianism and international
and domestic volunteerism highlight some of the
work ACS members are doing at home and abroad.
The ACS is also providing a variety of lectures and
hands-on courses at the annual Clinical Congress on
volunteerism, humanitarian projects, and practical
Dr. Freiwald in March
2012 at a Project
Access San Diego
event. The piñata was
made by a man whose
cataracts were fixed
at an earlier event.