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Needy San Diegans Get Free Surgeries

Eight uninsured San Diegans will get their hernias fixed for free on Saturday. Some of the patients have been living with the painful medical condition for seven years.

The San Diego Medical Society Foundation reaches out each year to the community to offer free medical care for those in need.

“Of the about 850 people we take care of every year, about 30 percent require surgery,” the foundation’s executive director, Barbara Mandel, said.

Surgeons operate on a patient, on June 6, 2010.

Credit: Andy G / flickr

Surgeons operate on a patient, on June 6, 2010.

Aired 3/9/16 on KPBS Midday Edition.

Needy San Diegans Get Free Surgeries


Barbara Mandel, executive director, San Diego County Medical Society Foundation

Patricia Coleman, recipient of free surgery


The San Diego County Medical Society Foundation stages these Saturday Surgery Days about four times a year. It’s part of the group’s effort to help poor San Diegans with unmet medical needs and is a way to help medical facilities meet their public service goals.

Carlsbad Surgery Center is providing the venue, and a group of surgeons, nurses and other medical professional are donating their time.

Patricia Coleman got a kidney stone treated as part of the program in 2013.

“You can’t imagine the pain,” Coleman said. “Throwing up because it was so bad. It was horrible. They changed my life.”

About 200,000 adults in San Diego County remain uninsured. About half don’t have insurance because they recently lost or switched jobs.

People may also find the cost of dependent health care unaffordable, so their spouses may be covered but they are not.

In 2015, the foundation gave free outpatient surgeries to 190 needy San Diegans.



Contact: Eva Stimson, EMS MC, Inc. (858) 832-8297,

San Diego, CA, October 15, 2012—-Carlsbad Surgery Center located at 6121 Paseo Del Norte in Carlsbad, CA, partnered with the San Diego County Medical Society Foundation (SDCMSF) and Anesthesia Medial Group, Inc. to provide pro-bono surgical services to 11 uninsured patients with debilitating medical conditions on Saturday, September 22, 2012. Carlsbad Surgery Center donated the use of their operating rooms with surgical supplies and recruited physicians, nurses, anesthesiologists and Surgery One staff to donate their time and talent to this worthy cause. The medical team included general surgeon Dr. Eileen Natuzzi, general surgeon Dr. Adam Fierer, orthopedist Dr. Erik Stark along with anesthesiologists Dr. John Reed, Dr. Mark Ransom and Dr. Steven Suydam performed life-changing surgical procedures that included hernia repairs, a knee scope, lipoma excision and ACL correction.

According to Amanda Moore, RN, CNOR, Director of Clinical Services at Carlsbad Surgery Center who has been organizing events at the facility since its inception in August of 2011, “This is a very meaningful project for Carlsbad Surgery Center. I begin the planning process at least six months in advance to recruit the physicians, nurses, techs and vendors, and the SDCMSF screens the patient candidates that are selected. The most meaningful aspect of this event is that the work is conducted right here in our community, to benefit people who reside in San Diego and that need our help. It’s a chance for my staff to rejuvenate the spirit of giving back — we work very hard everyday to benefit the Center and make a living. To participate in this event solely for the purpose of helping another human being without monetary reward helps feed the heart and the soul. This is a family-friendly event and several of our volunteers brought their children with them to share in the experience.”

Surgery One is an industry leader in San Diego County with a network of outpatient surgical centers located in Carlsbad, La Jolla, Otay Lakes and mid-town (Kearny Villa Road). The surgery centers offer a wide variety of surgical service lines ranging from orthopedic sports medicine, spine, pain management, ENT, general surgery, gastroenterology, and cardiology. Call (760) 602-7872 or visit for additional information.