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Bariatric Surgery Center of Excellence Designation Given to Montefiore Medical Center

New York City, NY  (March 11, 2008) --The Bariatric Surgery Program at Montefiore Medical Center has been accredited by the Bariatric Surgery Center Network Accreditation Program of the American College of Surgeons.  The designation means Montefiore has met the essential criteria that ensure it is fully capable of supporting a bariatric surgery care program to help morbidly obese patients lose weight and that its institutional performance meets the requirements outlined by the College's Accreditation Program.

"We are proud to be recognized in this way," said Arnold Berlin, MD, Interim Chair, Department of Surgery at Montefiore. "This accreditation provides confirmation that our surgery program has demonstrated its commitment to providing the highest quality care for its bariatric surgery patients."

Bariatric surgery is the clinical term used for two main surgical procedures that help morbidly obese patients lose weight and improve their resolve to keep it off.  During Gastric Bypass, the surgeon staples a portion of the stomach, creating a small pouch for food, and reroutes the small intestine reducing the absorption of some calories and nutrients.  In Gastric Banding, a silicone band is placed around a portion of the stomach creating a small pouch and restricting the amount of food intake by the stomach.  Banding is reversible, Gastric Bypass is not.

Accredited bariatric surgery centers provide not only the hospital resources necessary for optimal care of morbidly obese patients, but also the support and resources that are necessary to address the entire spectrum of care and needs of bariatric patients, from the prehospital phase through the post-operative care and treatment process.

"Optimal management of the disease of morbid obesity involves more than just the various surgeries," said Karen Gibbs, MD, Director of the Bariatric Surgery Program at Montefiore. "We stress the educational aspect of our program as well.  Our patients are taught about the dietary and behavioral changes that are necessary in order for them to achieve a lifetime of success after surgery. In addition, support groups are always available for patients to learn and engage medical professionals in the field of weight loss surgery," Dr. Gibbs said.

Combined with an extensive medical staff, the Montefiore program employs a full time dietician and psychologist who do pre and post-operative counseling with surgery patients.  Specially designed equipment for the morbidly obese is also located throughout the medical center for use by bariatric patients.

In the United States, more than 11 million people suffer from severe obesity, and the numbers continue to increase.  Obesity increases the risks of morbidity and mortality because of the diseases and conditions that are commonly associated with it, such as type II diabetes, hypertension, and cardiovascular disease, among other health risks. 

The American College of Surgeons is a scientific and educational association of surgeons that was founded in 1913 to raise the standards of surgical education and practice and to improve the care of the surgical patient.  Its achievements have placed it at the forefront of American surgery and have made the College an important advocate for all surgical patients.  The College has more than 72,000 members and is the largest organization of surgeons in the world.

Medicare coverage of bariatric procedures is only given to surgical programs certified by the College of Surgeons or the American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery.

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