“…his most gratifying moments come from helping others.”
A Sacramento janitor was out of work for months as a result of cataracts that left him blind. The man turned to Clinica Tepati, a free clinic where Kaiser Permanente’s South Sacramento Ophthalmologist Mark Drabkin, MD, heard his story. Dr. Drabkin volunteers at the clinic one day per month.
“When I examined him, I found he was completely blind and had no means to finance surgery,” says Dr. Drabkin. “I asked the physicians in chief if we could perform surgery on a compassionate basis, and they were all very supportive.”
Following the surgery, the patient’s vision was 20/40+, enabling him to return to work. “One of the most gratifying moments in health care is helping others without compensation, simply because it’s the right thing to do,” says Physician-in-Chief Kieran Fitzpatrick, MD, who was involved with giving final approval to do the surgery.
“I happened to be the person in a position to do something,” says Dr. Drabkin, who is a strong believer in the benefits of volunteering. “It’s a chance to give back, to do something helpful for others.”
Dr. Drabkin has also visited Nicaragua several times and worked with some ophthalmologists there. He admired their expertise, while noting their lack of surgical tools. Leon, Nicaragua, a city of 200,000, does not have even a single laser. “There, people are going blind from things that can be easily corrected. We have two lasers in every single ophthalmology clinic at Kaiser Permanente. It shows how lucky we are.”