Raymond Washington Jr., M.D.
PINEHURST – The FirstHealth Bariatric Center, a surgical weight-loss program at FirstHealth Moore Regional Hospital, has been accredited as a comprehensive center under the Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery Accreditation and Quality Improvement Program (MBSAQIP), a joint program of the American College of Surgeons (ACS) and the American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery (ASMBS).
Founded in 1983, ASMBS was formed to advance the art and science of metabolic and bariatric surgery by continually improving the quality and safety of care and treatment of people with obesity and related diseases through educational and support programs for surgeons and integrated health professionals.
ACS was founded in 1913 to raise the standards of surgical education and practice and to improve the quality of care for the surgical patient.
“Achieving ASMBSQIP accreditation means that our program has demonstrated the ability to provide quality care and good outcomes for our patients,” says Raymond Washington Jr., M.D., medical director of the FirstHealth program. “The ability to measure our program against other outstanding programs in the United States assures our patients that they are getting the same high-quality care that they would get from any of those institutions.”
MBSAQIP Standards, as outlined in the “Resources for Optimal Care of the Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery Patient 2014,” ensure that bariatric surgical patients receive a multidisciplinary program, not just a surgical procedure, which improves patient outcomes and long-term success. An accredited center offers preoperative and postoperative care designed specifically for its severely obese patients.
According to Melissa Herman, R.D., LDN, program director for FirstHealth Bariatrics, the number of options that patients have when deciding where to have bariatric surgery can be overwhelming.
“When making such a big decision, patients need to understand that accredited facilities undergo rigorous processes and have to prove their exceptional level of quality, safety, training and support,” Herman says. “Studies have shown that the mortality rates at non-accredited facilities are, on average, three times greater than the mortality rates at accredited facilities, so it’s important that patients and referring physicians seek out an accredited program like ours.”
Programs with MBSAQIP accreditation are required to track and report data, provide support and follow their patients for life.
“Accreditation demonstrates a high level of commitment to the patient, indicating that we not only perform the surgery but, as with any chronic disease, also provide ongoing support to ensure the best possible outcomes long term as well,” Herman says.
To earn MBSAQIP designation, a weight-loss program must meet essential criteria for staffing, training and facility infrastructure and protocols for care that ensure its ability to support patients with severe obesity. The specially trained surgeons and staff must also participate in meetings throughout the year to review outcomes.
A center’s participation in a national data registry that yields semiannual reports on the quality of its processes and outcomes also identifies opportunities for continuous quality improvement.
In addition to Herman and Dr. Washington, the FirstHealth Bariatric Center team includes bariatric surgeon David Grantham, M.D.; nurse education liaison Christi Embler, R.N.; behavioral health coach Alexis Elliott, LCSW; and patient navigator Heather Ryerson.
The program, which offers Roux-en-Y gastric bypass and sleeve gastrectomy procedures, has performed 398 surgeries since 2011.