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June 10, 2019

Patient Story: Paying It Forward

by Guest Author

Inspired by his ambulatory surgery center and care from Dr. Chester Griffiths, a patient pays it forward in his community.

Blayne Thompson was taking care of a friend who was recovering from cancer surgery in Los Angeles when he realized something was wrong. At first, he thought the facial paralysis he was experiencing was a stroke. Blayne was terrified of going to the emergency room to find out what was wrong. It was 2012 — the Affordable Care Act had not yet gone into effect, which expanded Medi-Cal health insurance to low income adults. And Blayne was uninsured, with little income to spare for emergencies.

Dr. Chester Griffiths and patientTo make matters worse, Blayne’s asthma was triggered when he took an aspirin to mitigate what he thought might be stroke. He explained his financial situation to a private doctor’s office, who referred him to the Venice Family Clinic – a community clinic that provides health care for low-income, uninsured, and homeless patients in Venice Beach. After getting his asthma under control, the clinic diagnosed him with Bell’s Palsy, a condition in which the muscles on one side of the face become weak or paralyzed. In addition, the providers found nasal polyps that were preventing him from breathing properly.

Once they consulted with Blayne on his personal circumstances, they were able to link him with Dr. Chester Griffiths, co-founder of Pacific Specialists which is a medical practice and ambulatory surgery center (ASC) specializing in both ear, nose, and throat disorders, and treatment that also partners with Venice Family Clinic. ASCs focus on certain procedures to deliver high quality patient care at lower cost in an outpatient setting. They also, after realizing Blayne’s financial situation, were able to offer charity care.

“If it hadn’t been for Pacific Specialists, I wouldn’t have the quality of life I do now.” – Blayne Thompson, Patient

A subsequent CT scan revealed that Blayne’s issue was exacerbated as a result of a narrow airway. Dr. Griffiths was able to perform a series of surgeries to remove the polyps and widen Blayne’s airway to allow him to breath. Pacific Specialists also worked to clear out a mucous membrane that had formed over Blayne’s left eye as a result of the polyps. While he still receives ongoing treatment for his left eye, Blayne is happy to report that it’s now heading in a positive direction.

“If it hadn’t been for Pacific Specialists, I wouldn’t have the quality of life I do now,” Blayne
mused, while reflecting on his experience. “I am so grateful. From start to finish, it was a pleasant experience. I felt like they had my back.”

“There’s no ‘I’ in team,” Dr. Griffiths quipped. “We couldn’t do what we do without our team.”

Blayne’s experience with Pacific Specialists and Venice Family Clinic inspired him to find ways to pay it forward.

“With all the care of I was getting, it made me think about how much I wanted to help other people,” Blayne recounted. “I know I could make more money doing other things, but wellness and health are important to me, and after my whole experience, I really wanted to give back.”

Blayne, now insured through Medi-Cal and receiving regular care to stay healthy, now works with elderly people in his community – helping them with their shopping, daily affairs, and keeping them company. He also pursued further education after recovering from his surgeries, and is a certified personal trainer, massage therapist, and physical therapy aide in a sports rehab program.

Adapted from original CASA Cares article published in June 2019 by California Ambulatory Surgery Association.

Last updated: July 29th, 2020