Retired orthopedic surgeon Robert Cancro, MD and second-year resident Will Kwan, MD volunteer and treat patients at the Acute Specialty Access Clinic.

Since 2009, Valley Medical Center has hosted the Acute Specialty Access Clinic in its Emergency Department. Retired orthopedic surgeon Robert Cancro, MD and second-year resident Will Kwan, MD volunteer and treat low-income and uninsured, nonemergent orthopedic patients in Renton.

Once a month, retired orthopedic surgeon Robert Cancro, MD visits the emergency room. He’s not there to receive care but rather to give care, as a volunteer provider at the Acute Specialty Access Clinic. 

Since 2009, this once-a-month clinic has been hosted by Valley Medical Center, which invites Dr. Cancro, second-year resident Will Kwan, MD, and our own operations nurse and co-founder Andrea Castell RN, BSN to use Valley’s emergency department to evaluate and treat low-income and uninsured, nonemergent orthopedic patients in Renton. 

Patients are referred to the clinic by local primary care providers, and Project Access Northwest coordinates their care—scheduling appointments, ensuring that required lab tests and imaging are complete, and providing interpreters as needed.

“Without care coordination, we couldn’t treat the patients here,” explains Valley Medical Center nurse Shelly Linsay, who also assists at the clinic because she believes it’s important. “It is not a perfect [health care] system, but this is a perfect solution.”

Bernard Mutisya, who came to the United States from Kenya for a work opportunity and has no medical insurance, is grateful for the help he found through the Acute Specialty Access Clinic.

In January, 61-year-old Bernard Mutisya sought help from the clinic. He traveled to the United States from Kenya last year, leaving his wife and two children behind, to pursue a job opportunity. Now, without medical insurance, he has trouble accessing the health care system here and cannot afford the $300/month cost of medication he requires. Project Access Northwest coordinated his care with Dr. Cancro and has also
connected him with the Prescription Drug Assistance Foundation.

“Our programs cross all borders and all specialty groups,” explains Andrea Castell. “Our goal is always to offer what is best for the patient.” 

Busy resident Dr. Kwan makes time to volunteer because it allows him to giveback to the community, hone his skills during the longer, 45-minute patient appointments, and gain expertise from Dr. Cancro.  

Dr. Cancro enjoys teaching the residents and using his skills to help people in need. He particularly appreciates how care coordination allows him to  focus solely on treating the patient.

“This should be a national standard,” he says. “It makes it so easy to take care of people.”