In April 2016, Angel Smeeth Lafferty sustained injuries from a fall. After numerous doctor appointments, it was determined that Angel tore her meniscus in her left knee.
As a veterinarian technician, Angel has health insurance but as she explained, it’s lousy. For more than a year, Angel wore a brace without any relief.
“I was telling a friend of mine about the difficulty I was having with my insurance covering the surgery when she suggested I look up Surgery on Sunday,” Angel said. “I went online and filled out application. I applied in July 2017 and learned that I qualified financially and physically.”
Relying entirely on volunteers, Surgery on Sunday performs outpatient surgeries the third Sunday of each month at the Lexington Surgery Center. Utilizing 450 volunteer physicians, anesthesiologists, nurses and administrative personnel, Surgery on Sunday is a nonprofit organization that provides essential outpatient procedures at no cost to uninsured and underinsured individuals who are not eligible for state or federal assistance.
Founded in 2005, Surgery on Sunday was the first program of its kind in the United States and has been providing essential outpatient procedures to those that cannot afford those services for 13 years.
After nearly two years of discomfort, and making no progress with her insurance, Angel’s knee procedure was approved by Surgery on Sunday and scheduled for January 21, 2018 with orthopedic surgeon Dr. Trevor Wilkes.
“From the minute I walked into Lexington Surgery Center at 7 a.m. that Sunday, I was greeted and made to feel welcome,” Angel said.
“Even though I had met with Dr. Wilkes before the procedure, he still walked me through everything that would happen that morning. From start to finish, everyone was so pleasant and caring.”
Angel’s procedure was a success, and she was home in Versailles recovering by 1:30 p.m. After two weeks, she had a follow-up appointment to have the sutures removed and was told by Dr. Wilkes that he was very pleased with her recovery.
“I was very diligent to do everything Dr. Wilkes and nurses said to do because I wanted the procedure to work since I had waited so long,” she said. “I completed the full six weeks of physical therapy and followed my exercise worksheets at home. I wanted everything to repair nicely in six weeks, as instructed.”
Angel finished her physical therapy and continued her strength exercises at home, which she explained was a huge cost-savings. There were no costs associated with the surgery, and by providing an at-home recovery plan, Angel was not financially burdened by the procedure.
“I wasn’t able to get the help that I needed from my insurance, which is horrific, but thank Heaven for the people that volunteer their time to Surgery on Sunday,” Angel said.
As Executive Director Amanda Ferguson explained, Surgery on Sunday’s mission to its patients is to minimize suffering, prevent financial burden and get patients back to work.
Surgery on Sunday offers outpatient surgeries only, with the most common being gallbladder removal, hernia repair, orthopedics, cataract surgery, tonsillectomies and mass excision. Patients are referred by a medical professional and have a primary care home, but no payment is required for surgery.
“We serve a 250 mile radius, which means we have patients from Kentucky, Ohio, Tennessee, West Virginia and Indiana,” Amanda said. “Our goal is that our patients lead productive, normal lives following their surgery.”
Six month have passed since Angel’s knee procedure and she is continuing to do well. Her hope is that she can volunteer her time to Surgery on Sunday and give back to the people that helped her in her time of need.
“I wish everyone knew about Surgery on Sunday,” Angel said. “I will never forget the concern, care and professionalism I was given—it is a true blessing I found Surgery on Sunday.”
Surgery on Sunday’s Story:
Surgery on Sunday was a longtime dream of Lexington plastic surgeon, Dr. Andrew Moore, II. In his nearly 40 years of service, Dr. Moore helped numerous patients who made just enough to disqualify them from assistance, yet didn’t make enough for surgery to be financially viable.
As the healthcare environment changed, the ability to do pro bono surgeries vanished. Dr. Moore made it his mission that the working poor in the Lexington community received outpatient services that they would not otherwise receive due to their financial constraints.
In 2005, through a Mission and Ministry grant from Saint Joseph Hospital’s parent company, Catholic Health Initiatives, Surgery on Sunday was born. After receiving the start-up funds, Dr. Moore approached the Lexington Surgery Center to partner with to provide operating rooms, equipment and other overhead requirements. Eleven years later, the Lexington Surgery Center is still the surgical home of Surgery on Sunday, which operates every third Sunday of the month.
In 2015, Surgery on Sunday revised eligibility requirements for the program. Surgery on Sunday’s Board of Directors realized that while many individuals now have insurance, many plans have high deductibles making elective surgery unattainable. To be eligible for Surgery on Sunday, a patient must meet the following criteria:
• 250 percent of the federal poverty guidelines
• For safety purposes, a Body Mass Index (BMI) of 35 or lower
• Uninsured or has insurance with a high deductible plan that is 10 percent or greater of household income
• Does not qualify for state or federal program assistance
From surgeons to anesthesiologists to nurses to administrative personnel, more than 400 volunteers have donated nearly 100,000 hours of service and provided nearly 6,000 surgeries since inception.
How to volunteer:
Volunteers are always needed for surgery days and other projects to better serve Surgery on Sunday patients. To complete a volunteer application, please visit their website, surgeryonsunday.org.
How to make a donation:
Surgery on Sunday is funded solely by grants and generous donations. These funds allow Surgery on Sunday to keep expenses low and provide essential outpatient procedures at a fraction of the cost.
“Surgery on Sunday is changing lives one patient at a time,” says Executive Director Amanda Ferguson. “To help us in our mission, and to change someone’s life, please donate via our website, surgeryonsunday.org, or give us a call at (859) 246-0046.”