Looking at the individual

charity care

El-Rayes (standing) is pictured here with Hemchandra Mahaseth, a medical resident in training at Emory.


Charity Care

Ending the bounce-back

The kind of thing a family would do

Looking at the individual

Harry Raines lost his job shortly after his pancreatic cancer was diagnosed.

By the time he was sent to Emory, the family was living on what was left of their tax refund and had no health insurance. To Raines’ astonishment, Emory surgeon Juan Sarmiento operated anyway. Although the tumor had not spread outside the pancreas, the risk of recurrence was high, and Raines would need months of chemotherapy. Gastrointestinal oncologist Bassel El-Rayes at Emory’s Winship Cancer Institute took over.

“These guys are the cream of the cream,” Raines whispered to his wife. “How are we ever going to pay for this?”  They didn’t have to. Emory University Hospital had helped Raines apply for Medicaid. In addition, Emory classified the case as charity care, erasing existing medical bills and co-pays to come. Winship’s patient assistance fund covered the costs of prescriptions stocked in the Emory pharmacy. Winship social worker Terri Sexton navigated a paperwork maze to get assistance for the rest from pharmaceutical companies.

Then El-Rayes, who directs clinical trials at Winship, asked Raines if he wanted to enter one of the nearly 150 clinical trials under way at Winship. Chemotherapy after surgery can delay recurrence, improving survival times for this generally lethal cancer. The trial he had in mind looks for specific biomarkers in tumor tissue and personalizes chemotherapy accordingly.

Sign me up, Raines said. Like the costs of surgery, emergency department visits, and follow-up, anything related to standard care was written off by Emory Healthcare until Medicaid kicked in, and Winship’s patient assistance fund helped with transportation and other expenses. Anything related to the five-year clinical trial continues to be covered by Winship.


A whole team of people—specialists, social workers, financial assistance staff, and others—worked to help the patient being treated for pancreatic cancer, including oncologist Bassel El-Rayes, who directs clinical trials at Emory’s Winship Cancer Institute.


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Community Benefits Report Cover 2011

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