By Gerry Poitras
When our facility, Advanced Gastroenterology, opened two years ago, it was a pretty grim time to open a business. The unemployment rate in our section of Washington State (the Vancouver area) was in the double digits, and still is. What a terrible time to take an economic risk.
However, we knew that the economy was hurting people around us far more than it was hurting the people who worked at our facility.
For any of us who have been in GI endoscopy for any time at all, we realize the great many patients we take care of on a daily and yearly basis. But what about those people who have been unemployed or underemployed, or who don't have insurance? These people don't have the opportunity to have all their healthcare needs met, let alone get a screening colonoscopy.
That was what we were thinking when we came up with the idea of a free-colonoscopy day. The owner of the facility, Dr. Son Do, was grateful for his new business and felt it was important to serve the community. He also wanted to do something to commemorate Colon Cancer Awareness Month, and so we figured that we should combine these goals.
But how would we decide who could get a screening, and who could not get one? Here we see that sometimes being helpful is logistically difficult. We encountered this same realization on other occasions, but overall, the process was smooth. For the problem at hand, we brainstormed and came up with simple criteria. We would let all the local offices know they could send us a referral for a patient who needed a screening procedure, who was underinsured or not insured at all. We were clear that these were screening procedures and not diagnostic.