The OA Story

Bill Schecter, MD

Doug Grey, MD

Paul Hofmann, DrPH
A discussion about creating access to surgical care for the underserved at an American College of Surgeons meeting in San Francisco planted the seeds for Operation Access back in 1992.

Focusing on low-income, uninsured workers and the self employed who fell through the cracks, as we explored options for providing care, we realized that it was easier for medical professionals to volunteer overseas than in our own community.

We concluded that the good will and energy of medical volunteers who traveled abroad could be harnessed to benefit underserved people in the Bay Area and began to build a model of care based on local volunteers.

Paul joined us to develop a structure that would connect patients in need with volunteer surgical teams. We proposed a model in San Francisco in which hospitals would provide operating rooms and surgical equipment on a rotating basis, and volunteer physicians and nurses would provide low-risk outpatient surgery to these patients.

Operation Access developed in partnership with local provider organizations, volunteer business consultants and seed money from the San Francisco Foundation. We saw our first case in 1993 and have continued to serve low-income, uninsured patients for the past 18 years.

We are proud that the OA network has grown to over 1100 medical volunteers, 33 medical facilities, and over 90 referring community clinics in Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, San Francisco, San Mateo, and Sonoma counties. We have touched the lives of over 7500 people and coordinated medical care valued in excess of $55 million.

Each year the demand for services continues to grow. Your donation or willingness to volunteer can help make a big difference in someone’s life!