Person of the Week: Surgery on Sunday Doctors Give Free Health Care to the Uninsured

Doctors and nurses volunteer their time, treating Kentucky's uninsured for free.

ByABC News
July 16, 2010, 12:10 PM

July 16, 2010 — -- It's Sunday and Dr. Andrew Moore isn't taking a day off in his Lexington, Kentucky, neighborhood. Instead, he scrubs in and spends his day tending to a carpenter's torn ligament and removing another man's hernia. Moore does all of this for free.

"When I graduated from medical school, I took the Hippocratic oath and part of that oath is that you're supposed to take care of people regardless of their ability to pay," Moore said. "Surgery on Sunday is just sort of the fulfillment of that oath."

Moore founded Surgery on Sunday in 2005. It's a nonprofit organization where doctors and nurses volunteer their services for free the third Sunday of every month, working in donated surgical space at Lexington Surgery Center.

Together, they are this week's "World News" person of the week.

"The mission of Surgery on Sunday is to take care of the people that fall between the cracks," Moore said. "They're not eligible for federal programs such as Medicare or Medicaid and they can't afford health insurance."

The Kentucky native, who has a plastic surgery practice, wanted to find a way to help the people the health care system seemed to forget: the working poor who don't qualify for federal health care programs but can't afford insurance.

According to a report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 46.3 million Americans are uninsured. According to Kaiser Family Foundation, 14.8 percent of Kentucky's population, 626,000 people, are uninsured.

Community groups in Lexington, Kentucky, refer the working poor to Surgery on Sunday.

People come from hundreds of miles away to Surgery on Sunday. They are not financially obligated to pay for anything. Private grants and donations fund the procedures.

On average, Surgery on Sunday saves the Medicaid program $22 million each year and hospitals $25 million.