Surgery – considered a necessity for survival in dire but also common, everyday situations – is too often something that breaks the bank in the process of saving a life, or even just a limb. And even though a surgeon himself may not want things to be this way, there isn’t usually much one can actually do about it.
But one surgeon had another idea. And with a little luck, his little idea was able to make a big difference.
One Nebraska surgeon named Doctor Demetrio Aguila III grew too tired of watching his patients leave their surgeries and treatments in the hospital and return to the real world, only to resume a life of struggling under the financial burden that their procedures had cost – having seen it happen repeatedly, he felt the expectation and dread for the financial aftermath of each new patient was even starting to get in the way of his performance. That’s when he decided to try something new.
Around all of his hard hours of labor, Doctor Aguila took it upon himself to go from charity to charity to ask them to partner with him on a new potential solution. To his great surprise, many of them said yes. So then he decided to found the Healing Hands of Nebraska clinic’s new M25 program – where patients can pay off their medical debt by volunteering in community service, even getting to choose the preferred nonprofit they’d like to work with.
The first person to participate in the program was Jeffrey Jensen, a patient who underwent surgery to fix the numbness and nerve damage in his leg. After the surgery, he was assigned 560 volunteer hours in exchange for the medical bill. Although it may sound like a lot of work, Jensen says that the volunteer work has had as much of a positive impact on his life as the surgery itself.
“We’ve eliminated a lot of the administrative hassle that’s associated with healthcare,” Aguila told local reporters. “We’ve lowered the cost of healthcare. We’ve made it fair for everybody involved. Nobody loses. That is the core of the M25 Program.”