DOWNEY - A team of about 70 doctors, nurses and support staff from Kaiser Permanente Downey Medical Center worked for free May 21 to provide low-income and uninsured patients with pro bono outpatient surgeries to repair hernias, remove cataracts and gallbladders.The patients came from Family Health Care Centers of Greater Los Angeles. Some had been waiting months and even years for the surgeries. Asuncion Castillo, of Bell Gardens, is one patient who benefited from the free Community Surgery Day at Kaiser Permanente's surgery center in Bellflower. He is blind in his left eye because of a cataract and, as a furniture upholsterer, he needed complete vision to practice his trade. He lost his job when vision problems affected his work, leaving him with no income, health insurance or resources for medical care. After waiting nearly a year, Asuncion finally got the cataract surgery to give him back his eyesight. "The monetary value of these surgeries is inconsequential to the difference we make in these patients' lives," said Jane Finley, senior vice president and executive director of Kaiser Permanente Downey Medical Center. When asked what he plans to do after recovering from the surgery, Asuncion said he wants to get a job. In the current economy, getting a job is difficult enough. Coupled with blindness, finding a job and keeping it is almost impossible. Now that barrier is removed, just like the cataract in his eye.
********** Published: May 26, 2011 - Volume 10 - Issue 6