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SPIRIT Project

Since the program began in 1995, Dignity Health has been a strong supporter of SPIRIT, which is an acronym for Sacramento Physicians’ Initiative to Reach out, Innovate and Teach. As a partner, we make an annual contribution of $15,000 to support its operation, volunteer recruitment, and patient case management. In addition, Dignity Health donates out-patient surgeries and provides in-kind support to assist in surgeries.

SPIRIT is a collaborative program of the Sierra Sacramento Valley Medical Society designed to engage physicians in the delivery of medical care to county indigent patients through volunteerism. Healthy Community Forum partners are key funders of the program.

SPIRIT recruits physicians to volunteer in county and community clinics in an effort to enhance primary care medical services available to Sacramento's uninsured. The project also offers a specialty service network comprising office referrals to participating SPIRIT physicians, "specialty sub" clinics located within existing county clinics, and hernia and cataract repair surgeries done at no charge at local hospitals. Specialists and surgeons provide medical care that uninsured patients have difficulty accessing. SPIRIT medical services are completely free of charge to the patient.

Currently, SPIRIT volunteer physicians provide primary care services, out-patient surgical services (cataract and hernia) and specialty services including dermatology, neurology, orthopedics, rheumatology, and vision services to uninsured patients.

In recent years:

  • Mercy General Hospital, with the help of five valuable doctors donating their time and services (Robert Bellinoff, MD; Ben Hunt, MD; Richard Jones, MD; Christian Swanson, MD; and John Young, MD), donates up to five surgeries per month.
  • Under the direction of Dr. Ron Chambers, Mercy residents at Methodist Hospital adopted Cristo Rey High School. Physicians (including one faculty physician and three residents per four-hour presentation) have made several presentations. In 2013, residents spoke to sophomore biology classes about drugs, alcohol, and STDs. In addition, Cristo Rey students had the privilege of experiencing first-hand a heart dissection with the residents.
  • To date, Mercy General Hospital and these five surgeons have donated 385 surgeries to patients who otherwise would have gone without.
  • SPIRIT has 34 active volunteers who have collectively donated 31,000 hours and treated 39,000 uninsured Sacramento residents, including the provision of 670 surgeries. The value of donated services exceeds $8.4 million.