Laguna Niguel Surgery Center, an SCA Health-affiliated surgical center in Laguna Niguel, CA, is working in partnership with Mission Plasticos to assist local women in returning to everyday life.
Mission Plasticos is a non-profit organization focused on providing reconstructive plastic surgery procedures to patients in nations struck by high poverty levels, where finding access to quality reconstructive care can be challenging or non-existent. Their mission statement is to Treat, Train, and Transform lives in these impoverished nations by empowering local physicians to provide advanced care to their communities. The procedures come at no cost to patients who have reached out to Mission Plasticos for the opportunity to receive care. ReShaping Lives is the domestic chapter of this foundation whose vision is to provide the same access to care to uninsured and underinsured persons living at or below the poverty level in the United States, regardless of their immigration status.
“Before I joined SCA Health, I was an operating room nurse for a plastic surgeon,” SCA teammate and Laguna Niguel Surgical Center CEO Lauren Cessna said. “I worked with a female plastic surgeon completing her fellowship named Karen Leong. Eventually, I left that role and came to SCA Health, and she went off and started her plastic surgery practice and began volunteering with Mission Plasticos.
The Laguna Niguel and Mission Plasticos partnership idea originated when Leong, now the lead surgeon for ReShaping Lives America, brought the concept to Cessna in 2019. Cessna jumped at the opportunity to share the idea with center surgeons and staff.
The center was happy to offer a location for procedures and donate their time; thus, the partnership commenced. Unfortunately, the COVID-19 pandemic halted the process before it began.
Fast forward to 2023, and the joy surrounding the partnership remained high, and the center began providing care to Mission Plasticos patients.
“There was a sense of excitement when we were able to begin providing services,” Cessna said. “The pandemic added to the backlog of patients for Mission Plasticos, and we just felt this even bigger need to help how we could. This partnership offered something positive for our team after the pandemic and we were thrilled to have this chance to give back as a team.”
“We use our staff and anesthesia team,” Cessna said. “We are all volunteers, so we aren’t being paid for these procedures. As a group we use our equipment and medical supplies and don’t receive any funding from Mission Plasticos. All the patients we see (through ReShaping Lives) are uninsured or underinsured women in our local community. They have had breast cancer and need their tissue expanders exchanged for permanent breast implants or need breast reconstruction.”
To receive this care, patients submit applications with Mission Plasticos, and those who are approved are then connected with Laguna Niguel and scheduled for surgery.
The center dedicates at least one day per quarter to performing procedures for Mission Plasticos patients. Cessna estimates that the center can serve roughly 20 to 30 patients per year, depending on the type of procedure required by each patient.
Cessna explains,, “We are the only Ambulatory Surgery Center partnered with Mission Plasticos in our area. We feel privileged to be a part of these patients’ journeys. I think our staff get as much out of it from our side as the patients do.”
The partnership adds to SCA Health’s existing charitable organizations, including One World Surgery. One World Surgery (OWS) offers medical missions for SCA Health teammates, both clinical and non-clinical, to serve patients in need in the Dominican Republic and Honduras.
“SCA Health has OWS, which allows us to help internationally, which is amazing,” Cessna said. “This partnership with Mission Plasticos ReShaping Lives helps us build on that and provides a way for us to give back domestically as well.”
As for the future, Cessna hopes to see other SCA Health centers consider partnering with Mission Plasticos. Her goal is already underway, as she is working with an SCA Health-affiliated center in Utah. This partnership offers SCA Health teammates an opportunity to give back and work with an incredible organization.
To learn more about Mission Plasticos, click here.
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