Project Access NOW connects volunteer providers with uninsured patients

The day after Pippa Newell, M.D., a surgeon at Providence Portland Medical Center, pulled a bullet from Danilo Gonzales’ left shoulder, she leaned over his hospital bed and spoke to him in his native Spanish. Together they talked about the surgery’s success and marveled about the path that led them both to Providence. 

Dr. Newell began her college studies in anthropology and sociology and eventually landed in Senegal on a Fulbright scholarship. It was there that Dr. Newell began to consider becoming a physician. Today she is a surgeon and medical director of the Providence Liver Cancer program. 

Gonzales arrived in great pain recently at the emergency room at Providence Portland. Years before in his native Guatemala he was shot in the right arm and leg because he helped save a woman who was being assaulted. He later came to Oregon to work, and one of the bullets migrated toward his left shoulder, making it difficult for him to use his left arm. 

After hearing his story and knowing he had few resources, Dr. Newell’s team helped connect him with Project Access NOW, a Portland organization that pairs those in need of specialty care with hospitals, physicians and surgeons willing to provide the care free of charge. 

Project Access NOW coordinates a network of volunteer physicians and other health care providers throughout the Portland metro area, making it easier for them to donate medically necessary care to the low-income uninsured in the community. Providence has helped support Project Access NOW since the non-profit’s inception in 2007. 

“I love Providence,” Dr. Newell says. “It is a great hospital and health system to work for because we are here to serve the poor and vulnerable – it is okay for us to care – and we are able to do that regardless of a person’s ability to pay.”