7 Foot Surgeon: Helping the Uninsured

FRESNO, Calif.

No bones about it, when this towering orthopedic surgeon wants to operate, the hospitals let him.

"I think, you know, a seven foot guy in your face, being an advocate for a patient, I do get results that way," Dan Ivankovich, M.D., an orthopedic surgeon, told Action News.

Leader of "The Bone Squad," Dr. Ivankovich refuses to turn patients away when they can't pay.

It's estimated 50 million Americans don't have health insurance. A Harvard study found about 45,000 Americans die every year because they can't afford the health care they need.

"I had a lot of pain," Isabel De La Cruz, a patient, told Action News.

Dr. Ivankovich replaced Isabel's knees. If he's lucky, he'll get 18 cents on the dollar from Medicaid.

"Yeah, I know, I do make less money. I do. It's clear," Dr. Ivankovich said.

When someone arrives uninsured, all 15 Chicago ERs, where he's on staff, know who to call. He is a busy man.

"I would say comfortably about 850 to 1,000 cases a year," Dr. Ivankovich said.

His souped up car is fit for a super hero, but Ivankovich says he's not trying to save the world.

"I did want to impact my city, these communities, these people's lives in a positive way," Dr. Ivankovich said.

He grew up well off. Both his parents are physicians. But, as an NBA hopeful, he spent lots of time playing ball on the other side of town. It's where his clinic is now.

"I got to meet people, see their parents, got to see where they lived, and it devastated me, you know, six people living in an apartment 12 x 12, it was horrible," Dr. Ivankovich said.

Then, he faced his own tragedy. A busted knee ended his basketball career.

"That was probably the lowest point in my life," Dr. Ivankovich said.

But now, his life is filled with people who look up to him and not because of his height.

"I'm pain-free. I ain't got no more pain, so he's real special for me. I love him," Isabel said.

Dr. Ivankovich's "Bone Squad" is able to perform their work thanks to the One Patient Global Health Initiative. The not-for-profit group he co-founded has also helped him open clinics to help those in need.

Karla K. Carwile, MA, MA, LCPC, DCC
OnePatient Global
(773) 675-9900

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