Local Surgeon Performs 16 Pro Bono Spine Surgeries in Africa
Mission Trip Provided Life‐Changing Healthcare to Impoverished Patients
Indianapolis, IN (July 16, 2012) ‐‐ Dr. David Schwartz, a local spine surgeon, recently performed 16 pro bono surgeries in Nairobi, Kenya, on patients there who cannot afford to pay for the necessary healthcare to correct their spinal cord deformities and injuries.
During the trip, Dr. Schwartz evaluated 25 patients and conducted the necessary surgical procedures at Kenyatta Hospital in Nairobi, June 29‐July 2. A portion of his trip was also devoted to training local surgeons on more advanced surgical techniques. Dr. Schwartz also gave lectures to local medical students and medical school faculty and met with the Kenyan Minister of Health to discuss how the country can become more medically self‐sufficient through physician training.
“No one should have to suffer painful, oftentimes life‐threatening health problems, regardless of their ability to pay,” says Schwartz. “I was honored to be able to give these patients access to healthcare that can truly change their lives.”
Schwartz and another surgeon from Salt Lake City, Utah, traveled to Kenya as part of the NuVasive Spine Foundation. This foundation brings world‐class surgeons and innovative spine surgery to disadvantaged communities across the globe. The two U.S. surgeons were assisted by Kenyan physicians and support staff in the operating room.
This was Schwartz’s inaugural mission trip to Africa, however, earlier this year he performed a life‐saving spinal surgery on a young patient named Salma Suleiman, who traveled to Indianapolis from Kenya through this outreach program. While in Kenya, Schwartz and his family visited the Green Pastures School that Salma attends to deliver school supplies. A video about her story can be found here: http://bit.ly/O0Q0Ao
“The need for this type of healthcare is tremendous. People traveled great distances seeking our care,” says Schwartz. “I’m already making plans for another medical mission trip.”
Closer to home, Schwartz practices medicine at OrthoIndy and Indiana Orthopedic Hospital (IOH). The hospital has earned numerous awards for both clinical quality and patient satisfaction. For example, it received the prestigious Press Ganey Summit Award in 2009, 2010, and 2011. To earn this award, recipients must be ranked in the 95th percentile or above in the Press Ganey database for excellence in patient satisfaction for three consecutive years. IOH also was ranked number one in Indiana for Overall Hospital Care for Patient Safety and in the top 10 percent nationally for Overall Surgical Care for Patient Satisfaction by CareChex.
However, because the hospital is physician‐owned, it is not allowed to expand to meet increased patient demand. When the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) became law in 2010, Section 6001 of that law prohibited the construction or expansion of physician‐owned hospitals.
“Physician‐owned hospitals and their physicians do a tremendous amount of good work in their communities and abroad,” says Dr. Michael Russell, president of the Physician Hospitals of America (PHA). “It’s unfortunate that high performing hospitals are being restricted and patients’ access to care is limited by Section 6001.”