Kaiser Permanente WLA provides free surgeries

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Surgeries and medical procedures were provided to 25 local residents with limited health insurance at no cost to them as part of Community Access Day at Kaiser Permanente West Los Angeles on May 14.

The event, a collaborative effort between Kaiser Permanente West Los Angeles and Venice Family Clinic, provided procedures such as gallbladder and hernia repair, eye surgery, as well as diagnostic colonoscopies. 57 physicians and staff members from the medical center took part in the event.

This program provides procedures for a group of patients that desperately need the help. With colonoscopies alone, there is currently an 8-month waiting period from the county, said Rigoberto A. Garcia, Director of Health Education from the Venice Family Clinic.

The program has operated at the West Los Angeles Medical Center for eight years, benefitting patients like Culver City resident Maria Olivares, 38, who underwent hernia repair surgery at the event.

Olivares cleans houses for a living and has struggled with hernia pain for five years – making simple tasks such as lifting an object or bending over very difficult. Her husband was unable to work after suffering a work-related back injury and Olivares struggled to pay the bills. She simply didn’t have the resources for a hernia surgery, and says she learned to live with the pain. Soon she won’t have to live with the pain anymore.

“I feel really great,” Olivares said about her upcoming surgery. “Good health is the most important thing. I’m a little nervous but so very grateful that I am getting this help.”

Maria Sedano, 41, a laborer from Los Angeles, noticed blood in his stool several months ago and was told he needed a colonoscopy. If it wasn’t for Community Access Day, it was a procedure he said he wouldn’t get done at all. It was something his family simply wasn’t going to be able to pay for.

Los Angeles resident Petra Gonzalez, 45, is receiving hernia repair surgery after dealing with what she describes as terrible pain for more than six months. She is a single mother whose husband passed away when her children were very small. She moved to the United States to work and sends money back to her children in Mexico and has not seen them in more than nine years.

The pain made it very difficult for her to even bend over – but has had no choice but to work through the pain at her job at a local fast-food restaurant.

“I’m so very thankful to the doctors at Kaiser Permanente and the Venice Family Clinic – this means so much to me,” Gonzalez said, on the morning of the surgery. “May God be with us. Hopefully this program can continue to help many other patients in the future as well.”

About 176 patients have received surgeries since the Community Access Day program began in 2009. The event started with just eight patients receiving just general surgeries that year, and now provides four different medical procedures for up to 30 patients.

Kaiser Permanente WLA provides free surgeries