Fresh Start providing medical services for low-income children

Fresh Start providing medical services for low-income children
Fresh Start is the gift of medical care given with love. Fresh Start Medical Program Services Manager Lupita Morales with Fresh Start patient Edgar. Courtesy photo

CARLSBAD — Fresh Start Surgical Gifts is leading the way in providing free cosmetic care for low-income kids, whether it’s a minor imperfection or a major deformity.

The Carlsbad-based company recently announced a partnership with the Chicano Federation of San Diego to provide free medical care for children.

“I think the work they do is amazing and the fact they offer these services at no cost and extend outside San Diego is something everybody needs to know about,” said Chicano Federation Chief Operating Officer Nancy Maldonado.

Fresh Start was opened in 1991 by a plastic surgeon with a mission to raise awareness for San Diego County families. They recruited doctors, anesthesiologists, oncologists, nurses, technicians, speech therapists, translators and other volunteers to help those in need, according to Fresh Start Chief Development Officer Michelle Pius.

All medical services are free and the nonprofits raises funds through donations and fundraisers to provide a safety net for the underinsured or non-insured, she said. Since its inception, more than 8,000 kids have received free medical care valued at $39 million.

“We do plastic and reconstructive surgery for kids that have any type of cosmetic or physical deformities,” Pius added. “We do a lot of more common conditions.”

Patients are examined and undergo surgery every six to eight weeks. All medical personnel volunteer their services and Fresh Start has partnered with Rady’s Children Hospital for the facilities.

Pius said Fresh Start provide cosmetic or plastic surgeries for a variety of conditions from crossed eyes, birth marks, birth defects, ears and dental issues to the more extreme deformities typically associated with the nonprofit.

“We thought it would be a good opportunity to refer back and forth,” Pius said of the new partnership.

As for the Chicano Federation, Maldonado said the organization, which is in its 49th year, provides a number of programs to help low-income individuals and families throughout San Diego County.

Its goal is to work with those individuals or families so they can be self-sustaining and move forward without the programs and services provided by the federation.

The partnership, meanwhile, gives the federation an opportunity to provide its clients with access to health care services.

The Chicano Federation reaches 8,000 residents per year, which includes 7,000 children.

“It just felt like a really natural fit,” Maldonado said. “It will introduce them to a program and service they probably otherwise would not have heard of. We try to give the families different resources throughout the community.”

For more about Fresh Start or the Chicano Federation, visit www.freshstart.org or www.chicanofederation.org.

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