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Save Our Veterans Program: Oregon Outpatient Surgery Center's Mission to Give Back

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Arrambide JesseyeJesseye Arrambide, administrator of Oregon Outpatient Surgery Center in Tigard and president of the Oregon Ambulatory Surgery Center Association, has been fielding calls from California, Florida and all over the country since her center launched its Save Our Veterans Program. The question she has been asked: "How did you do it?"

While the healthcare field and media were abuzz with the Veterans Affairs scandal, a simple conversation at the Ambulatory Surgery Center Association meeting gave birth to the idea. With the backing of orthopedic surgeon Richard Edelson, MD, Oregon Outpatient Surgery Center launched into preparation for the Save Our Veterans program, which will provide vets with free surgical care once a quarter.

The first step was to spread the word. The center hired a public relations person. The story went to three television stations, two local radio stations and several publications. Ms. Arrambide went to the local VFW Hall to speak with local vets. A website and email address were set up to provide further information. A videographer helped the center make a short video detailing the motivation behind the program: a simple effort to give back.

Pulling together the resources necessary to provide free care wasn't a struggle, but rather just a matter of asking. "A free day of care does not mean the center has to absorb that cost," says Ms. Arrambide. Dr. Edelson, other surgeons, and anesthesiologists were prepared to volunteer their services. Employees offered to work off the clock during the procedures. Vendors, down to the linen service, donated supplies. "Everyone feels since these vets have served for us, it is our responsibility as citizens and a country to pay it back," she says.

The first cases were not scheduled to take place until July, but the surgery center ended up doing its first Vet in June. "We decided there was no reason to keep him waiting any longer," says Ms. Arrambide. "Two vets, an Iraq War veteran and one Vietnam War veteran from the VFW hall were connected with Dr. Edelson. On July 7, three days after the country celebrated Independence Day, the two surgeries were performed. Several elected officials, including a Senator and the mayor came to visit the vets before Surgery and thank them for their service.

"The VA has a backlog and we can be part of the solution. The vets deserve quality healthcare in a timely manner. ASC’s have that capability." says Ms. Arrambide.

The amount of publicity the program has generated has been gratifying. Not for the recognition, but for the interest it has sparked across the ASC industry. "We hope other ASCs will also pay it forward," says Ms. Arrambide.

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