Kaiser Permanente and Operation Access provide free surgeries in Richmond

Kaiser Permanente and Operation Access Provide Free Surgeries in Richmond
Photos contributed.

For the past year, Asuncion Garcia has been in pain. 

“One day, I ate spicy chips, and the pain started,” she remembered. “I couldn’t breathe; I couldn’t even speak. I felt so much pain I just wanted to shove my fist deep into my belly to make the pain stop. I was rushed to the San Joaquin General Hospital Emergency Department. They did an ultrasound and found gallstones in my gallbladder.”

Because Garcia was uninsured, she was discharged from the hospital with dietary restrictions. However, that didn’t stop the pain. Fortunately, Garcia finally was able to have her surgery on Saturday at the Kaiser Permanente Richmond Medical Center. More than 20 Kaiser Permanente physicians, nurses and staff members performed a handful of gall bladder and hernia surgeries. More than a dozen patients also received colonoscopies the same day at the South San Francisco Medical Center.

In addition to providing the no-cost care, a two-year $360,000 grant from a Kaiser Permanente fund at the East Bay Community Foundation is supporting Operation Access’ Donated Surgical and Specialty Care program. The program coordinates with 76 medical facilities, including many Kaiser Permanente medical centers, to provide no-cost care to people in need. During its 30-year-long partnership with Operation Access, Kaiser Permanente has provided more than 12,000 surgeries and other specialty care procedures to people in need.

“Through a 30-year partnership with Kaiser Permanente, Operation Access provides a model for medical volunteerism locally,” said Operation Access Program Director Ali Balick. “By providing prompt access to care, we reduce emergency room visits, save patients from pain and disability, and improve health outcomes throughout our community.”

Kaiser Permanente East Bay General Surgeon Aaron Baggs, MD, regularly volunteers with Operation Access.

“When our health care providers volunteer on Super Saturdays, we are able to provide critical health care services for people in community who otherwise wouldn’t have access to this care,” he noted. “This is such an important partnership for us. I always enjoy volunteering with my colleagues to help our local neighbors in need.”

Garcia was extremely grateful for her surgery on Saturday.

“I didn’t think anyone could help me until I was contacted by Operation Access,” she said. “Thank God I was able to speak to Dr. Baggs. “I cannot believe the number of stones I had in my gallbladder. My surgery was a success!”

This article was submitted for publication by Kaiser Permanente.