When a community clinic diagnosed Manuel with late-stage prostate cancer, he had zero expectations of surviving it. He immigrated to the U.S. from Mexico more than 15 years ago and works alongside his wife, Margarita, to support their two sons. Like millions, he doesn’t have health insurance. No system was spreading its wings to help Manuel — or so he thought. Enter Operation Access, the organization that set up Manuel’s care at the cancer treatment center that ultimately gave him a clean bill of health, essentially saving his life. Jason Beers, Operation Access’ president and CEO, cites Manuel as a success story. (Margarita prefers to call it a milagro, or miracle)
The Cause: Operation Access organizes specialty care for the underserved and uninsured through an elastic web of community clinics and medical volunteers. More than 100 clinics refer low-income patients to OA’s top-notch network of surgeons, doctors and nurses.
President and CEO: Beers, a fluent Spanish speaker with a degree in Latin American Studies, works for Operation Access’ largely Latino population. Fifteen out of 16 people on his staff are also fluent in Spanish. “It’s critically important to speak the [patients’] language, and also understand their culture and circumstances,” he says.
Inspiration: Breaking medical barriers — but first, a moment of Zen. Says Beers, “Every morning, many of us gather for a meditation practice that rotates among different [staffers] to lead it. That helps ground us.”
Impact: Community referrals have increased by 30 percent in the last two years. Over the last year, OA has provided $26 million in medical care. Since its inception, volunteers have donated over 20,000 medical services to patients who need them.
Budget: $1.8 milliom
Supporters: Kaiser Permanente, Sutter Health, the Hellman Family Foundation.
Get Involved: Volunteer, and donate. A little goes a long way — for each dollar given, $15 worth of medical care is provided. Learn more at operationaccess.org.