Select uninsured Summit County patients receive free surgery Saturday
Ryan Summerlin October 20, 2012
It’s the little things, like getting in and out of the shower that make day-to-day life difficult for Tim Render, a resident of Breckenridge dealing with an ACL injury for two years. Saturday, Render was given the unique opportunity to get the surgery completed for free.
Peak One Surgery Center held its third annual Community Surgery Day Saturday, where vendors donated supplies while approximately 60 health care professionals volunteered their time to conduct 15 surgeries on the under- or uninsured of Summit County.
“This has been something that’s bothered me for the last two years. I feel so thankful that I can finally get this taken care of,” Render said. “Without a doubt, I would not have been able to get this surgery set up on my own.”
The driving force behind free surgery day is Dr. Peter Janes, a surgeon with Vail-Summit Orthopedics. He was inspired by a similar project launched by a doctor in Pueblo, whom he met while helping with medical care following an earthquake in Haiti.
Janes continues to pass along inspiration with Community Surgery Day to under- or uninsured patients.
“I feel so lucky to be able to have this opportunity,” said Bright Stevenson, who received shoulder surgery. “I would not have been able to do this any other way and would have just had to bear through the pain.”
Free surgery day isn’t something you can just sign up for, and it’s not just one day – physical therapy following the surgeries are part of the package too.
The patients are carefully selected from Summit Community Care Clinic’s approximately 5,000 uninsured local clients. Patients are screened for income eligibility and selected by their primary care providers at the clinic.
Free operations go to the ones health care providers identify as being at the greatest risk if they do not have the surgery, and are then dependent on the proper surgeon being available. The process can take up to nine months.
Once selected, patients will have the cost of pre- and post-operation appointments, medication and even physical therapy completely covered.
Selection occurs based on need, appropriateness for outpatient procedure and type of surgical specialty required. All patients fill out applications which go in front of a review panel. Then, patients must be medically cleared and go through assessment of readiness for surgery.
The project requires the combined effort of countless volunteers, from the surgeons, to technicians to the cleaning staff at the surgery center. Even the building rent for the day is covered by the hospital.
“It’s far reaching how many people donate,” Janes said. “This is a collaborative effort, there are so many people involved with making this happen and it’s a really great way to help out those who wouldn’t have been able to get these surgeries.”
Fifteen procedures were scheduled Saturday utilizing the volunteered time of 12 anesthesia providers, three physician assistants, seven surgeons, 14 nurses, three front office staff, 13 operating room personnel and many additional volunteers.
“Community Surgery Day is a very unique event,” said Alicia Breslin, a registered nurse for the community care clinic. “I have explained (the event) to family members and friends who live outside Summit County, and they cannot believe that as a community we are able to make this happen.”
“It is truly a model of cooperation between many different organizations and individuals to be able to provide these needed services to our own neighbors,” Janes said.