Nebraska Doctor Allows Patients to Pay for Surgery by Doing Volunteer Work in Hopes of Keeping Them from Financial Ruin

Dr. Demetrio Aguila III of Healing Hands of Nebraska. | Facebook/Demetrio Aguila III

Driven by data from a new study showing that 66.5% of all bankruptcies are tied to medical issues due to the high cost of care, a Nebraska doctor has developed a program in his practice that helps needy patients pay for surgery with volunteer work.

Through the program called M25, based on the 25th chapter of Matthew, Dr. Demetrio J. Aguila III, founder of Healing Hands of Nebraska, says he’s hoping to keep at-risk patients from financial ruin.

“For years, I had been doing surgery for patients and taking care of their health problems, taking care of their medical problems, and then I would find out months later, sometimes years later, in fixing their medical problem I had caused or contributed to their financial ruin,” said Aguila, who’s also a U.S. Air Force veteran, in an interview with 1011 Now. “I need to be able to look myself in the mirror at night and know that I’m taking good care of my patients.”

Aguila specializes in peripheral nerve surgery which encompasses acute nerve injuries, entrapment neuropathies and nerve sheath tumors. It is practiced by surgeons of varying backgrounds with expertise in orthopedic, neurological, plastic and reconstructive surgery.

Healing Hands of Nebraska patients are offered three ways to pay for surgery, but the organization describes the M25 program as their favorite option.

“By partnering with charitable organizations, such as the Orphan Grain Train, we are able to offer care to patients that do[es] not require them to have any money. Through the M25 Program, patients invest in their healthcare through a donation of their time and energy to one of our partner charities,” the organization explains on its website.

“Over two-thirds of individual bankruptcies in the United States are due to medical debt.  What’s more alarming is that in over 75% of those bankruptcies, the patient had insurance. Clearly, insurance is no guarantee against financial ruin, and in many cases gives patients a false sense of security,” it further notes.

Aquila wasn’t immediately available for an interview Thursday but Grant Schmidt, vice-president at Orphan Grain Train, a humanitarian nonprofit that does international shipments and domestic relief aid, said the doctor approached him in Norfolk around spring and asked if he would become a partner organization in the M25 program.

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SOURCE: Christian Post, Leonardo Blair