Patients share their stories about the care they received at
Lestonnac Free Clinic
Pain and Agony
Antonio, a 51 year old chronic kidney disease patient, arrived at Lestonnac Free Clinic in excruciating pain with an abnormally high blood pressure. Prior to his visit, he had been turned away from two different Emergency Rooms desperately searching for relief from what ended up being a large kidney stone.
Antonio was not eligible for surgery since he only qualified for Emergency Medi-Cal. After realizing the severity of Antonio’s case, including that his kidneys were on the verge of shutting down, Volunteer Nephrologist, Dr. Kevin Pham referred Antonio to St. Joseph’s ER. Antonio went to the ER as recommended and was sent home a third time.
The next day after no word back from the ER, he anxiously called the Clinic asking for help. One of the medical assistants called Dr. Pham on his personal cell phone, as he was not volunteering that day. Dr. Pham immediately contacted St. Joseph’s Emergency room and spoke directly with a physician emphasizing the severity of his case and how urgent it was that the stone be surgically removed as soon as possible. Antonio’s surgery was scheduled that same evening.
Antonio states, “I was so overwhelmed and distraught from having gone to the ER multiple times and being discharged without help. I am so thankful for Lestonnac. I don’t even know how to express my appreciation to them for having intervened for me and helping me obtain the surgery.”
Your support enables the Clinic to provide health care services to the underserved who otherwise would go without help. THANK YOU!
In October of 2015, a very distressed Veronica arrived at Lestonnac Free Clinic searching for relief from her severe hip pain due to osteoarthritis, in addition to her nagging sciatica. As a 40 year old female, she was much too young to be struggling in order to complete some the most basic tasks like walking to the market and cleaning her house. At a mere 5'3" Veronica weighed in at 293 lbs with a Body Mass Index (BMI) of 52. (Generally, a BMI of 30 or greater is considered clinically obese.)
Because of a wonderful partnership with Kaiser Permanente, Veronica was eligible for a Free Total Hip Replacement Surgery, which she so desperately needed. The catch however, was in order to be approved for the surgery, her BMI had to be less than 35.
At the beginning of 2016, Dr. Brandon Sievers launched the Wellness Clinic, a 6 month intensive and comprehensive weight loss program, and Veronica was one of the first patients to enroll. It was at the Wellness Clinic that her health really took a turn for the better. Veronica was determined; she began to take exercise seriously and also made the necessary changes to improve her diet and lifestyle. After 6 months, Veronica lost an incredible 44 pounds. Although her BMI was not yet under 35, she was still deemed a favorable candidate for the surgery because she was young, but more importantly because she was able to keep the weight off throughout the 5 months following the completion of the Wellness Clinic.
Veronica's total hip replacement surgery was scheduled on Tuesday, December 5, 2017.
When Veronica arrived at Lestonnac Free Clinic just over a year before, she did not know that was only the beginning and her life was going to change forever. Two days before the surgery while confirming the appointment details, a very joyful Veronica expressed, "No words can describe how I feel. I am so thankful and fortunate to be able to have this opportunity. All of you at the clinic are always helpful and caring." She goes on to say, "You always treat patients with respect and love. I would like to thank Dr. Sievers for motivating me to lose weight to be able to obtain the surgery."
"Healing is a matter of time, but it is sometimes also a matter of opportunity." Hippocrates
Painful Side Effects
Orlando, a 49 year-old Anaheim resident, was prescribed medicine 8 years ago for his seizures, but it came with side effects. The medication caused his gums to become red, painful and swollen, making it difficult to brush and floss.
Without dental insurance and unable to qualify for Denti-Cal, he came to Lestonnac Free Clinic in desperate need of care. His gums were bleeding and the left side of his face was swollen.
Diagnosed by volunteer dentist Dr. Rubinoff with periodontitis, Orlando was given a local anesthetic, his teeth were ‘deep cleaned’ (scaling & root planing) and he was given an oral antibiotic to treat the infection.
At his 2-week follow up appointment Orlando had a big smile. “The swelling has gone down and I am feeling much better. I cannot afford to see a dentist, I don’t know what I would do if the clinic wasn’t here. Thank you Dr. Rubinoff and staff.”
Helping an American Hero
As an U.S. Army veteran who served for 8 years, Tim is a proud man. Proud of his years of service to his country, and proud of his work as an image service technician.
However, something was bothering him. “I chipped my front tooth about 4 months ago, and as someone who works in the public eye daily I felt it affected my appearance…I did not look as professional as I should.”
While he has medical insurance through the Department of Veteran Affairs, he does not qualify for dental insurance, and was not in the position to pay out-of-pocket no matter how unconfident he felt.
“I first heard of Lestonnac Free Clinic from an x-ray tech colleague… I was seen quickly and I was treated very kindly by the provider and staff. Now I feel much more at ease and confident in front of my patients. I would like to thank everyone at Lestonnac Free Clinic. It is very obvious that they care and have great compassion for their patients, more so than what is the norm.”
Saving a Life
Jose, a Santa Ana resident, worked at a car dealership for years. He liked his coworkers, the steady paycheck and he had good health benefits. However, in November 2012 the dealership was sold and Jose was laid off. He quickly found another job but it was only part time. He wasn’t eligible for health insurance and with his reduced income he couldn’t afford to purchase coverage on his own.
It was around this time that Jose started having difficulty breathing. He tired easily and was no longer able to go on the long bike rides he usually enjoyed. Walking to the end of the block became a challenge. His wife encouraged him to see a doctor at Lestonnac Free Clinic, where he was eventually diagnosed with aortic stenosis.
“The doctors at the clinic showed me great care and compassion. They closely monitored my condition, helped me apply for health insurance, and as a result I was able to have heart valve replacement surgery. I am alive today because of Drs. Dang, Grimes, Vangrow, Melgar and the clinic’s staff. ”
Thanks to YOU, our donors, for providing the means to make this success story possible.
Caring for a Family's Caretaker
Maria has been a caregiver her entire life. As a child she looked after her younger brothers and sisters, and as a young woman she cared for her ailing father while raising her own children. Now she takes care of her grandchildren, and husband who is coping with end stage renal disease. The irony is, she doesn’t take very good care of herself.
In 2014, she sought care at Lestonnac Free Clinic for abdominal pain – it was becoming more difficult for Maria to bend over, lift things and she had a bulge near her navel. Dr. Avery diagnosed Maria with an umbilical hernia and added her to the County’s free surgery waitlist. However, there were dozens of patients ahead of her, which meant she would spend years waiting. Paying out-of-pocket for the surgery was not an option.
In December 2015, the clinic developed a partnership with the Joy of Sharing Foundation, ALAPIO and the Beverly Surgery Center to provide patients with free procedures and outpatient surgeries. Patients on the County’s free surgery waitlist were reevaluated, and in June 2016 Maria had an umbilical hernia repair. She was one of 7 patients who received free procedures and surgeries that quarter.
At Maria’s post-operative appointment she started to cry, “I am so happy, thank you to the doctors and everyone who assisted me in June. Thank you for everyone’s kindness. They cared for me and now I am better able to care for my grandchildren and husband. You have changed my life.”
Your support enables the Clinic to provide health care services to patients that otherwise would go without. THANK YOU!
Inspiring a Future Dentist
As a UCI student volunteer in the dental department, Kimberly knew trouble was brewing in her mouth. “My wisdom teeth were severely impacted, growing horizontally, and my bite was getting more and more misaligned.”
After a consultation with an oral surgeon, Kimberly learned it would cost over $2,500 to have them removed. As a college student she didn’t have access to that kind of money, and wasn’t sure what to do.
“I was shadowing [Lestonnac Free Clinic volunteer dentist] Dr. Shahbandi, who encouraged me to speak with Dr. Poidmore, [a long-time clinic volunteer] who is an excellent oral surgeon. Dr. Poidmore graciously offered to extract all of my problematic wisdom teeth free of charge.”
“I am very thankful that I have met and been able to work with such generous and compassionate doctors. The experience of receiving care from such great doctors inspires me to one day be as great a doctor as Dr. Shahbandi and Dr. Poidmore. Their work truly changes so many lives.”
“Volunteering at Lestonnac Free Clinic has been one of the most rewarding experiences that I have ever had. The staff here is amazing and treat their patients with the highest quality care and respect. Doctors do their best to meet all patient needs.”
Seeing my Grandchild’s Smile with BOTH Eyes
Escaping gangs and drug violence in their home country, Leonor and her family immigrated to the United States in 2009. Working part-time and unable to afford private insurance Leonor relied on home remedies for most of her health ailments but if her symptoms became unmanageable, and with much prompting from her family, she turned to Lestonnac Free Clinic for help.
In June, Leonor’s family finally convinced her to go to the Clinic to get treatment for the growth that left her blind in her right eye. In Leonor’s eye, pink, fleshy tissue had grown from the white of her eye to her pupil, completely obstructing her vision. “I had been dealing with it for years but could never afford to have it taken care of.” Leonor’s primary care doctor referred her to Dr. Mosier, a volunteer Ophthalmologist, and after a thorough exam she was diagnosed with pterygium and scheduled for surgery at his vision center in Fullerton.
In September, the growth in Leonor’s right eye was removed and she immediately regained use of her eye. “It is a miracle! I am so grateful to everyone who made this possible. I am finally able to see my grandchild’s smile with both eyes! I am the happiest person on the planet.” The total cost to Leonor for the pre-operative appointment, surgery, post-operative care and medication, $0.
Bad Teeth and Broken Dreams
With 17 cavities, 3 broken teeth and a painful gum infection, Gloria knew she needed help and quickly.
The 46-year-old woman from Anaheim, heard about Lestonnac Free Clinic through her church and was hoping the Clinic could repair not only her smile and worsening health, but also improve her chances of getting a job.
Gloria knew that bad teeth translated into poor employment prospects. “I couldn’t even get an interview”, Gloria recalled. One of the Clinic’s volunteer dentist commented “…entry-level positions, or customer-service jobs are not available to people who lack the ability to smile, to speak, or to chew properly...”
Gloria had x-rays taken, a dose of antibiotics to clear up her gum infection, and over the course of several months had her 3 broken teeth extracted, numerous fillings and received a temporary denture so she can smile with confidence.
“I was treated with such dignity, respect and kindness”, Gloria said. Once her smile and health improved she resumed her job search, went on several interviews and has made it to the ‘final round’ with two companies. “I can’t find the words to express my gratitude, you repaired my teeth and restored my dreams.”
The Gift of Sight
“I just want to work… I need help with my eyes so I can work again” was Manuel’s mantra that he repeated over and over again during his course of treatment at Lestonnac Free Clinic.
Manuel happened upon the Clinic by luck and the kindness of a good Samaritan.
Manuel left Mexico three years ago in search of steady work and a better life in America. He settled in Santa Ana and soon after he began to notice his vision was blurry. Before long the blurriness worsened, and he could no longer see things at a distance. As his condition progressed Manuel found it difficult to hold down a job. Eventually he was forced out on the street and had to panhandle to survive. His future was grim and he was desperate.
Manuel didn’t travel hundreds of miles and leave his family behind to become a beggar.
Standing in front of a grocery store one Saturday morning with his panhandling sign Manuel was approached by a man, a good Samaritan. After a brief conversation Manuel revealed that he was unable to get a job because he was going blind. The good Samaritan said he had heard of a free clinic that could help him, and guided Manuel to his car.
When they arrived at Lestonnac Free Clinic neither the good Samaritan nor Manuel knew what to expect, but to their delight Manuel was seen quickly, and scheduled a follow up appointment with Dr. Rundle, one of the Clinic’s volunteer Ophthalmologists four days later. Upon his examination Dr. Rundle diagnosed Manuel with dense bilateral cataracts and worked with Dr. Mosier, another volunteer Ophthalmologist and clinical staff, to arrange for Manuel to have double cataract surgery for free.
It is because of your support that Manuel’s story has a happy ending. As of his last post-operative checkup in May, he was healing well and the Clinic’s Case Manager reports that he has found a job and is no longer homeless. Manuel is now able to pursue his dream of a better life.
Thank you to Drs. Rundle, Mosier, Grimes, Judith Rosario-Rayburn, NP and the countless staff members who worked with Manuel.
Also, thanks to YOU, our donors, for providing the means to make this success story possible.
TLC can Change a Life
Research shows that 85% of individuals diagnosed with type II diabetes are also diagnosed as obese.1
This statistic is true for Maria, a long-time patient of the Clinic, who has struggled with her weight her entire life. As a result of being overweight, coupled with her uncontrolled diabetes, she has developed serious health complications, which make everyday life challenging.
In August, determined to take matters under control, Maria made regular appointments with Dr. Marcus, a volunteer Endocrinologist. With his guidance Maria found a medication regime that allowed her to regulate her blood sugar, to start losing weight and helped make daily activities easier. She was succeeding!
Yet several months into her new regime Maria learned that the cost of her medications was going to increase expediently. Living on a monthly income of $1,570, she knew she couldn’t afford to continue her medications. Maria was devastated and heart-broken.
When Mr. Marcus and the clinical staff learned of Maria’s situation they sprang into action. They spent hours researching insurance options, patient assistance programs and potential medication substitutes. The Clinic even purchased Maria’s medication for several month until they could get things straightened out, and eventually, they found Maria an affordable solution.
“I am so grateful to Dr. Marcus, Marisol, Maggie and the rest of the staff at the Clinic. They didn’t give up on me and found a way I can afford my medications. I am determined now, more than ever, to get healthy. I want to show them their investment in me will pay off.”
Your support enables the Clinic to provide health care services and needed medication to patients that otherwise would go without. THANK YOU!
1 Gebel, PhD, Erika. “Obesity and Type 2 Diabetes. Diabetes Forecast. September, 2011.
From Dinner Preparation to Disaster Management
Tuesday is taco night in Bernadina’s house and the 40-year-old mother of two wanted to surprise her children by making their favorite type of tacos, ground beef. ‘Family dinners are very important, it is the only time my children, husband and I can talk and share stories without being rushed. Also, I have heard about child obesity, so I try to make more well-balanced meals from ‘scratch’." She smiles, "I know ground beef tacos aren’t very healthy, but my son did well on his last test at school and I wanted to reward him."
As the afternoon approached, Bernadina began preparing her family’s dinner. Out came the cilantro, onions, beef and the meat grinder. As she began grinding the beef she became distracted by a program on the television and her hand slipped.
“I looked away for a second and the next thing I knew there was blood everywhere”. She had sustained a severe cut to her finger which needed urgent medical attention.
Without health insurance Bernadina knew a trip to the Emergency Department would be costly. Instead, she headed to Lestonnac Free Clinic.
“I knew the Clinic would take care of me. I trust the doctors and the staff is always kind.”
Within 45 minutes of her arrival, Dr. Fuller, a gynecologic surgeon/obstetrician and on that day, a stand-in general surgeon, had cleaned and sutured up her finger, given her an injection for the pain and a prescription for antibiotics.
Your support provides the materials, medications and supplies that make this possible. Thank you!