A day to change lives

Salvador Abarca’s stomach was turning progressively red and painful. As a mechanical worker, he spent a lot of time bending and moving, and work was becoming tougher. A visit to his local clinic gave him the answer to his pain — a hernia.  But he wasn’t financially prepared for an expensive treatment.

A surgery can change your life, but for the uninsured, those procedures can remain out of reach.

In April, Salvador and eight other patients received the treatment they desperately needed, thanks to the generosity of nearly 60 volunteers including surgeons, anesthesiologists, and medical staffers on Fontana Medical Center’s tenth Community Surgery Day.

Dr. Frank Yamanishi started Fontana’s program, and works with care providers to organize the staff needed to treat patients. The program handles outpatient procedures like hernia repairs, cataract surgeries, and gall bladder surgeries.

“It’s wonderful to provide care for these people who don’t have the resources to get the care that they need,” said Dr. Yamanishi.

Community Surgery Day happens in different Kaiser Permanente clinical centers throughout the state, and is an effort by Kaiser, and their community partners, to help provide much-needed care for the medically underserved.

Out of all the surgeries Dr. Yamanishi has performed for Community Surgery Day, one  story in particular makes the impact clear. After one of the ophthalmologists removed the cataracts from a patient, she was able to see her grandchild for the first time.

“It brought tears to everyone’s eyes, she thanked us all, and it was a brand new world for her,” said Dr. Yamanishi. “It’s a wonderful experience that keeps everyone going.”

The Community Surgery Day is a great way for those who volunteer to be reminded of what they have.

“We’re very fortunate. There are so many people out there who can use the help, and we all have the opportunity to give that help,” said Dr. Yamanishi.

And for Salvador, the event provides a much needed-service for his community. In Fontana, there’s “a lot of people with low incomes. A lot of people don’t have social security numbers. Anywhere else you go to get help, you have to pay money to do it, so this is helpful for the community.”

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