At a time in everyone’s life, we come to find ourselves in a situation where the music stops, and we must go on.  The unfortunate truth about life is that the unexpected will happen. Some of us learn from it, some of us change because of it and some of us find our life’s calling because of it. The latter was the case for me.  After our dad picked us up from middle school, we spent that afternoon like we had every afternoon that month. We went to the oncology unit at the hospital, where my brother was admitted.



I remember him. I remember the man in the dark blue sarong the same way I remember the lines on back of my own hand. He was hunched over next to a column on a dirty platform at a railway station in Calcutta, India in the middle of the harsh summer sun. His hands were withered, his fingers and toes looked like tiny nubs, and he was completely malnourished and alone. He had opaque blue eyes, as if fog had taken place of his irises and pupils.



I studied insects in college; my favorite insects were the bees (I found them diligent and so helpful to humankind).  One of my favorite classes was about medical diseases caused by insects. My professors noticed my interest in the medical side of things and connected me with a professor who did clinical research. Our work focused on a clinical trial for children with intractable epilepsy and exposed me early on to patient care and patients.


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deductibles became more expensive.  So, to qualify for SoS now, patients generally may have household incomes up to 250% of the federal poverty guidelines, and they must be uninsured or have a deductible plan that requires payment of 10% or more of household income.  (SoS does not provide financial assistance for individual needs.)

In addition to geographical and financial criteria, patients are ineligible if their body mass index (BMI) exceeds 35, if the surgery is purely for cosmetic purposes, or if the procedure or operation cannot be performed on an outpatient basis.  The main goal of SoS is "to rid the patient of disease and pain without a financial burden."  A wide range of operations in several surgical subspecialties is provided.  (For examples, see the SoS web page.)

Most patients are referred by private or governmental agencies – for example, health departments or occupational groups – but private physicians often make referrals, and even self-referrals are permitted.  A preoperative evaluation by an appropriate surgeon is necessary, a process that might take 30-60 days. Total wait time from referral to operation is generally about 60-90 days.

Over the life of the program, 400+ medical professionals, including about eighty surgeons, have freely donated their time and expertise.  "We've got a great group of surgeons, anesthesiologists, nurses, and other clinical staff,”  says Dr. Moore.  "They're the real core of our organization – just amazing people!"

SoS has handled about 10,000 referrals.  Not all have required surgery, but over 5,700 of these have been provided a surgical service through the program. At the LSC itself, typically ten to twenty operations in about five operating rooms are performed monthly, with 5-8 volunteer personnel involved in each OR.

To provide these services, SoS depends not only on individual volunteer participation.  It also partners with several local organizations and relies on charitable contributions, aided by its own special fundraising events.  A tight budget and efficient management reduce the cost of surgery to a level below what is typical for the service provided. This also means that eight out of every nine dollars that is raised will go directly to patient care.

When Dr. Moore first visualized SoS, he looked for ideas and inspiration from other cities across the country but was surprised to find nothing similar anywhere else.  SoS is truly the first of its kind, and its success has not gone unnoticed.  It has received several awards; and it has confirmed the old adage that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.  Now Louisville has an SoS program, and similar organizations can be found or are being contemplated in Ohio, Tennessee, Alabama, and Texas as Lexington's Surgery on Sunday continues to epitomize the best of community involvement through physician volunteerism.

To learn more about SoS and how to become involved, see or call [859] 246-0046.    

Early on a cool, crisp autumn morning, Dr. Paul Kearney addresses his fellow surgeons and other volunteer medical professionals just before they embark on a busy day at the Lexington Surgery Center (LSC).  Many of them have already been preparing the facility since before sunrise as a part of the monthly ritual known as Surgery on Sunday (SoS).  Dr. Kearney chairs the board of directors for this organization, which is the brainchild of Dr. Andy Moore, who has served Lexington as a plastic surgeon for about forty years.

SoS was founded by Dr. Moore in 2005, fulfilling a longstanding dream to help people who were difficult to care for because they were "falling through the cracks" of the health care system – specifically, patients who needed outpatient surgical procedures but lacked the financial wherewithal or adequate insurance coverage.

The not-for-profit SoS is now in its thirteenth year of providing essential outpatient surgical services, at no cost to the patient, for income-eligible, uninsured or under-insured individuals who do not qualify for federal or state assistance.  Some procedures – for example, endoscopies and some eye or dental care – are performed by volunteer specialists in their offices, but most operations are performed by other volunteer surgeons and staff at the LSC, which has generously provided free use of its outpatient facility on Harrodsburg Road since the program's inception.

SoS patients never receive a bill.  The program pays for most of


the surgical supplies (about $300-350 for most cases) through the help of generous donations from the community and sometimes with materials donated by surgical supply vendors themselves.  All of this brings down the cost of the operations with no sacrifice in quality.  Each individual receives the same attention and excellent care that would be afforded to a private patient with excellent insurance.

Pre- and postoperative evaluation and diagnostic testing are covered.  In the rare circumstance where postoperative hospitalization is needed, coverage is also provided through an agreement with all of the local hospitals and their volunteer staff.  No payment for the operation and these services is required of the patient, who merely needs to complete a survey afterward and is asked to provide a testimonial.

The SoS service area basically encompasses a circle within a 250-mile radius of Lexington.  Originally the program was intended for the uninsured who were earning less than 200% of the federal poverty level, but the financial eligibility criteria have changed in the last few years.  With the implementation of the Affordable Care Act, the uninsured population in Kentucky fell by over half, but


Dr. Goodenow practiced medicine for 42 years, the last 37 as an endocrinologist at the Lexington Clinic