UPHS-Marquette’s bariatric surgery earns reaccreditation

Hospital’s program the only Center of Excellence in the U.P.

UP Health System-Marquette in August received reaccreditation of its bariatric surgery program from the Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery Accreditation and Quality Improvement Program as a Comprehensive Center. (Courtesy photo)

Bariatric surgery is a tool that, when combined with a comprehensive treatment plan, can improve a person’s health, as well as quality of life, explained Amanda M. Bivins, LPN, Bariatric Coordinator for the Bariatric and Metabolic Institute at UP Health System-Marquette.

And UPHS-Marquette is doing top-notch work in the bariatric field, winning prestigious accreditation from the Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery Accreditation and Quality Improvement Program and as a Blue Cross-Blue Shield Blue Distinction Center+.

“Our program was reaccredited by the Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery Accreditation and Quality Improvement Program (MBSAQIP) as a Comprehensive Center in August 2017. This accreditation is good for three years,” Bivins said. The center first received accreditation in 2008 and has been continually accredited since.

Bivins said UPHS-M offers two bariatric procedures: laparoscopic gastric bypass (roux-en-y) and vertical sleeve gastrectomy.

Two physicians — Dr. Paul Kemmeter and Dr. Derek Nagle — perform the surgeries. Also key to the program is Physician Assistant Michelle Lexmond, who has been with the bariatric program since its inception in 2006, and Dr. Erica Griffin, who specializes in medical weight management. There is a strong team of nurses, dietitians and support staff who work at the institute as well.

Patients are referred to the program from all across the area and region.

UPHS-Marquette’s bariatric program is the only Center of Excellence for bariatric surgery in the Upper Peninsula.

And for anyone who believes this is a “quick fix” for weight problems, having the surgery is an involved process, entered into with great care.

To be a candidate for bariatric surgery, a patient must meet certain guidelines. A patient’s Body Mass Index (BMI) must be >35 with a serious health condition or >40 without, must have tried and failed weight loss attempts, and must undergo a psychological evaluation, per National Institutes of Health (NIH) guidelines.

“Each patient’s treatment plan is based on their past medical history. Patients are with us three to six months prior to the actual surgery,” Bivins said. “It’s not a quick and easy process. This is an elective surgery and each patient must be medically optimized.”

And each bariatric patient is very much an individual.

“Some patients have past medical history that might call for extra attention,” Bivins said. “And follow up after the surgery is key. Each patient will have a number of visits immediately after their surgery. After that, we recommend follow up once a year,” Bivins said.

Earning Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery Accreditation and Quality Improvement Program approval is no easy matter, either.

“A program has to submit an application to MBSAQIP for a site visit. Once the application is reviewed, MBSAQIP will determine if the program has met the minimum standards for a site visit,” Bivins said. “If the program has, a site visit will be arranged. The surveyor is a bariatric surgeon. During the site visit the surveyor will verify that the program meets all the standards MBSAQIP sets.”

MBSAQIP “accredits inpatient and outpatient bariatric surgery centers in the United States and Canada that have undergone an independent, voluntary, and rigorous peer evaluation in accordance with nationally recognized bariatric surgical standards,” according to the program’s website. “Bariatric surgery accreditation not only promotes uniform standard benchmarks, but also supports continuous quality improvement.

“In the United States, more than 11 million people suffer from severe obesity and an estimated 93 million people are obese. The comorbidities associated with obesity range from diabetes and heart disease to certain types of cancers. Bariatric surgical procedures have been shown to reduce obesity, improve mortality, and decrease the health risks from chronic diseases such as cardiomyopathy and diabetes. For these reasons, the MBSAQIP will recognize those facilities that implement defined standards of care, document their outcomes, and participate in regular reviews to evaluate their bariatric surgical programs.”

UPHS-Marquette also earned designation as a BCBS Blue Distinction Center+.

“You have to be accredited to even apply for Blue Distinction,” Bivins said. “For some BCBS members, BCBS only approves (bariatric) surgery done at a Blue Distinction Center, which we are now. This is a big designation.”

To learn more about the Bariatric and Metabolic Institute at UP Health System-Marquette, call 906-225-7979.

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