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10/25/10: Emerson's surgical weight loss program receives Level 1A accreditation from American College of Surgeons

Emerson Hospital recently has been accredited as a Level 1A facility by the American College of Surgeons (ACS) Bariatric Surgery Center Network Accreditation Program.  This important designation means that Emerson has demonstrated a strong commitment to providing the highest-quality care to its weight loss surgery patients.  Now that it a Level 1A facility, the Surgical Weight Loss Center can accept all qualified patients.

According to Michael Jiser, MD, FACS, medical director, the accreditation represents a significant milestone.  “We can now accept patients with higher BMI [body mass index],” Dr. Jiser says, referencing the standard obesity measurement.  “The accreditation also allows us to perform revisional surgery, such as revising patients from the adjustable gastric band to a gastric bypass.”

All the components were in place to achieve Level 1A designation, so last year Emerson staff began the process of documenting every aspect of the successful program.

According to Angela Fenton, MA, LMHC, program manager, the 600 individuals who have had weight loss surgery at Emerson—whether a gastric bypass or gastric banding—are most familiar with the program’s overall quality.  “Patients appreciate our personalized approach to weight loss,” says Fenton, who has been with the program since it began and also serves as its mental health practitioner.  “We shape their pre- and post-surgery care to what they need.”  The program’s ongoing monthly support group is an important part of the continuum of care.

The following was documented for the ACS Bariatric Surgery Center Network accreditation:
• Emerson’s Surgical Weight Loss Center performed 137 bariatric surgeries in 2009.
• Emerson’s two-year surgical complication rate is well below the national average.
• In addition to three bariatric surgeons and a physician assistant, staff include a program manager/mental health practitioner, two dietitians, and an office manager.
• New equipment includes larger wheelchairs and a patient lifter for use on inpatient units.
• Hospital-wide sensitivity training and protocols ensure that hospital staff are sensitive to the needs of morbidly obese patients.
• A best practice manual covers the defined clinical pathways for care of bariatric patients throughout Emerson, including in the emergency department, critical care unit, radiology, operating room, inpatient floors, and outpatient department.
• Nursing staff receive training on common complications to watch for, clinical pathways, and the safe movement of patients.

In the United States, more than 15 million people suffer from severe obesity.  Individuals who are obese are at increased risk of developing conditions such as diabetes, hypertension, and heart disease.  At the present time, weight-loss surgery, also known as bariatric surgery, is proven to be an effective, lasting treatment.  That is why the ACS extended its quality initiatives to accrediting bariatric surgery centers—in order to assist the public in identifying facilities that provide optimal surgical care.

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.  It has more than 77,000 members and is the largest organization of surgeons in the world.