Gabriela knew it would be almost impossible to continue to care for her young children unless she got medical care. Lifting her two-year old had become unbearably painful. She was often unable to leave her home, so walking her children to school was no longer feasible. Then she met Wendy Buchi, MD.

Buchi, an obstetrician/gynecologist in practice at IGO Medical Group since 1993, regularly volunteers to care for the uninsured women referred to her through the Champions for Health’s Project Access San Diego. These patients come to Dr. Buchi after years of untreated medical conditions.

“Project Access patients are so appreciative of the care they receive,” says Buchi. “They want to improve their lives so they listen and follow-through on their care, which is what every doctor wants to see from their patients.” Not only has Buchi volunteered her own time to care for at least a dozen patients a year, but has also encouraged her partners to join her in these efforts, and now three IGO Medical Group physicians are working to improve the health and lives of uninsured women.

“My colleagues saw what I was doing, often assisted me with a surgery, and became inspired themselves,” says Buchi. “Because we are helping women who have more complicated issues than what our practice normally sees due to their lack of healthcare access, we are also enhancing our own practice of medicine.”

As a Project Access champion, Dr. Buchi received the Champions for Health 2013 Health Hero Champion Award, presented to a volunteer who has effectively encouraged their peers to participate with Project Access and has played a key role in implementing the program at their organization.

“Volunteering for Project Access has been really fun and rewarding for me,” adds Buchi. “The Project Access staff is great to work with, and I know any follow-up or additional resources will be taken care of, making my role as a volunteer physician easy.”