Surgeon creates an organization to offer low-cost surgery to uninsured

While you may have heard of Doctors Without Borders, you might not know about Surgery Without Borders.

The latter is an organization founded by California surgeon Jorge A. Enriquez, M.D., that offers surgical procedures from a network of doctors either for free, or at a discounted rate, to people without insurance who can't afford medical care, according to a report by STAT

Enriquez was inspired to start Cirugia sin Fronteras, which translates as Surgery Without Borders, four years ago. He watched colleagues fly to foreign countries in international efforts to provide medical aid, but was struck by the needs right at home, according to the report. He practices in California's Central Valley, an agricultural area where many people have seasonal, low-wage jobs that don't include health insurance.

Since its beginnings, the Bakersfield organization has treated about 1,200 patients via a network of 28 surgeons, four major hospitals, and two radiology and pathology labs, according to STAT. The surgeons include OB/GYNs, gastroenterologists, endocrinologists, a gynecological oncologist, and a specialist in plastic, reconstructive and hand surgery.

Poverty can pose a myriad of challenges to a person's health, as FiercePracticeManagement has reported. Nearly 40 percent of the U.S. population meets criteria to be considered low-income. With Cirugia sin Fronteras, patients pay a small amount, with the rest of the cost made up by donated time on the part of doctors and discounted hospital rates. A hernia surgery that might typically cost $16,000 to $21,000 might be performed for $3,600, the report said. "We go to a number that the patient is able to pay," Enriquez said.

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