Angels Among Us 

by Adama Dyoniziak, Executive Director, Champions for Health

A person is more than the sum of their body parts to Sylvia’s medical team of angels; Dr. Goldsztein, Dr. Salgado, Dr. Weiss and Dr. Davis. “I lost like 15 pounds when I entered Project Access – I was at an early stage of cancer… I had two operations and they removed the thyroid,” Sylvia hared.

These Angels are the volunteer physicians mobilized into action by Champions for Health (CFH), a non-profit whose mission is to improve community health and wellness, access to care for all and support for physicians through engaged volunteerism. Project Access San Diego (PASD), the flagship program of CFH, provides a full range of pro bono specialty health care, medical interpretation, transportation and medicine assistance to low-income uninsured individuals who are referred by partner community clinics. The network of 625 physicians, 10 hospitals and 14 outpatient surgery centers transform people’s lives from pain and dire medical diagnoses to health, renewed family involvement, and productive work and community life.

Dr. Salgado was born and raised in San Diego and the first in his family to attend college. “When Project Access approached me, I was more than happy to get on board. Providing medical care to patients that don’t have access is very important to me.  My most memorable experience was the excitement that a Project Access patient had. That euphoric feeling stays with you.” Dr. Goldsztein loves that he gets to establish a long term relationship with a patient and also have the immediate results that surgery provides. “There is so much unmet need in San Diego. I still receive Christmas cards from Project Access patients I had years ago. It is so rewarding to transform people’s lives.”

Sylvia shared with Giving Back Magazine, “When I saw Dr. Goldsztein, he told me it was born in him, this purposethat he had was to help others.  Since that day, I blessed Dr. Goldsztein. And it gives me great joy that there are still such good people. And I ask God that we always have those people who give with their donations or with their work. It is something very beautiful.”

According to Dr. Goldsztein, there was complex decision-making in Sylvia’s care, with multiple discussions to understand all available options. Sylvia made a decision she was comfortable with due to this patient-centered, caring interaction with her medical team. “The doctor called me at MY house, to ask how I was doing! I asked myself, ‘Holy Father what did I do to deserve this?’ This has been a blessing from God,” Sylvia said excitedly.

Aidé, Sylvia’s daughter added, “The Doctorsexplained it very well. We were worried that without Project Access we wouldn’t have been able to do anything about her condition. I don’t have the words to express for so much help.” Sylvia has been able to go on with her life and enjoy it even more, especially when playing with her many grandchildren.

Come join us at the 1stannual Champions Soirée – Awakening Wellnessevent at the Japanese Friendship Garden in Balboa Park on June 30th to raise money for Project Access San Diego.

For more information about Champions for Health, please visit