Heart to Heart

Dr John Tyner with His Patient Karla and Her Husband re

by Adama Dyoniziak, Executive Director, Champions for Health

Champions for Health is dedicated to providing access to critically needed healthcare for uninsured low-income residents of San Diego County who would otherwise face insurmountable barriers to care. We recruit, mobilize and support hundreds of volunteer physicians and other professionals to provide free specialty healthcare.

“I couldn’t walk upstairs, exercise, or work,” says Karla. “Even walking made me so short of breath.” Karla had been suffering from severe rheumatic mitral valve disease of the heart. Her valve enlargement caused her to be dizzy and lightheaded continued to worsen for seven years. As a young 38-year-old mother of two children, she was afraid she would not live long enough to see her children grow up. Karla is one of many uninsured patients who receive free specialty care treatment, procedures and surgeries through Project Access, a program of Champions for Health.

This past January, Dr. John Tyner of Scripps Green Clinic donated his time and talent and performed Karla’s valve replacement. Karla’s husband stayed by her side until she was wheeled into surgery. Carlos kissed his wife’s cheek and held her hand tightly, giving her all his strength. The surgery was a success, and everyone was overjoyed. “I am very happy… I’m focusing all my energy on recovering from this surgery,” says Karla. Her whole family is very grateful that Project Access and Dr. Tyner gave Karla a second chance to live a long and healthy life.

There are so many Project Access success stories that were transformed from dire circumstances. Mary tearfully spoke of the extreme pain and inability to work or care for her son. Linda said she would not be able to create the floral arrangements for her job. John told of relief from excruciating head pain so that he could be daddy and play with his young children. They all prayed for someone with a heart to come and help them. These hearts are within the volunteer physicians, nurses, anesthesiologists and healthcare professionals mobilized into action by Champions for Health

Since 2008, Project Access has facilitated $20.45 million in care for 6,500+ uninsured patients by providing 14,000 free consultations and 1,563 free surgeries – all thanks to the dedication, time and talent of our volunteer specialty healthcare physicians and healthcare professionals. For every $1 spent on program expenses, we provide $2.23 in contributed healthcare services – a return on investment of 223%! Our compassionate Care Managers connect these uninsured low-income San Diegans with their needed specialists, while securing transportation, medicines, diagnostic tests, medical equipment and medical interpreters – all free to the patient! During this time of crisis, your support of the patients of Project Access is more important than ever. Join your heart to ours: become a part of our pledge drive with a gift or a recurring monthly donation, both of which are tax deductible.


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Esteban Villanueva