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Moore Regional re-designated as Bariatric Surgery Center of Excellence

| Date Posted: 3/24/2010

Moore Regional re-designated as Bariatric Surgery Center of Excellence

PINEHURST – The Bariatric Center at FirstHealth Moore Regional Hospital has received a renewal of its designation as a Bariatric Surgery Center of Excellence by the American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery.

Bariatric surgery – also known as weight-loss surgery – is a treatment option for people who are morbidly obese and who suffer from a variety of serious health problems, including hypertension, diabetes, obstructive sleep apnea and high cholesterol, that are worsened by their obesity.

Kenneth Mitchell, M.D.
Kenneth Mitchell, M.D.

Raymond Washington, M.D.
Raymond Washington, M.D.

Kenneth Mitchell, M.D., of Pinehurst Surgical, is a general and bariatric surgeon and medical director of Moore Regional’s Bariatric Center. He performed the first bariatric procedure at Moore Regional in March 1999, and the Bariatric Center was first designated a Center of Excellence in 2006 by the Surgical Review Corporation (SRC).

The program received a Center of Excellence designation from BCBS of North Carolina in 2004, and was re-certified as a Blue Center of Distinction in 2009.

According to Dr. Mitchell, the recent renewal of these designations means that Moore Regional’s bariatric program meets the highest standards of quality and safety, demonstrating high volume, a low complication rate and excellent results.

“It gives patients who are currently in our program – and people who might be interested in our program in the future – even more confidence that they will get the very best care and the most comprehensive support services,” he says.

The Center of Excellence designation is now so widely accepted as an indicator of quality that most major insurance companies have made bariatric centers of excellence their preferred providers for bariatric surgery. That means policy holders have to pay more if they choose to have their surgery elsewhere.

If a Medicare patient has a bariatric procedure, it also must be done at a designated SRC Center of Excellence.

Bariatric surgery involves restrictive procedures, such as adjustable gastric band, to reduce the stomach’s capacity to hold food; or procedures like roux en-y gastric bypass, which combines the restriction of food intake with a modest amount of malabsorption. Both operative techniques help patients achieve substantial weight loss by limiting the amount of food they can eat and the number of calories their bodes can absorb.

Dr. Mitchell describes bariatric surgery as a “last resort” for morbidly obese people who have exhausted non-operative measures for losing weight. Close to1,400 bariatric surgical procedures have been performed in Pinehurst since the program’s inception in March 1999.

Raymond Washington, M.D., also of Pinehurst Surgical, joined the program in 2004.

“We measure our program’s success not by how many cases we do, but by how well our patients do after surgery,” Dr. Mitchell says.

Surgery is just one ingredient in the recipe for success, Dr. Mitchell says, but it is obviously one of the most important.

“We stress to our patients that bariatric surgery is not a cure,” he says. “It just gives the morbidly obese person the opportunity to control his/her weight and health problems. To have lifelong success, bariatric surgical patients must have the appropriate operative procedure, change how they eat for the rest of their lives, exercise regularly, and supplement their diet daily with specially formulated bariatric supplements for the rest of their lives. Being a successful bariatric surgical patient requires compliance and dedication to the program on a daily basis.”

The Bariatric Center’s patient support team includes mid-level providers, dietitians, nurses and mental health professionals. Patients are also encouraged to join the center’s Bariatric Support Group, which meets monthly to discuss a variety of topics.
Julie Walenta, the Bariatric Center’s program coordinator and one of its dietitians, says the ongoing care and support that patients receive is essential to their long-term success at controlling their weight and their related health problems.

“Patients often tell me how great it is to know that they are not out there all on their own,” she says.

According to Walenta, the Bariatric Center of Excellence designation recognizes that the Bariatric Center at Moore Regional is not just a surgical center but also a comprehensive program of care.

“It means that patients are going to have all the services and support they need from day one and continuing for as long as they need it,” she says.

According to Dr. Mitchell, the bariatric program has benefited from the strong support it receives from FirstHealth.

“FirstHealth has always made sure we had the facilities, the staff and the resources we needed to be successful,” he says. “This is a testament to their understanding that obesity is a significant health issue within our community, and one that requires a dedicated effort toward prevention and treatment via a multidisciplinary approach.”

For more information on the bariatric program at FirstHealth Moore Regional Hospital, please call (800) 213-3284.

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