Campbell says that Dec. 12, 2005, forever changed his life. It's the day that MeritCare obesity surgeon Dr. Tim Monson performed gastric bypass surgery on him. In this past year, Campbell has lost 115 pounds. He says, "I now have two birthdays. Dec. 12 is the day that things forever changed."
Campbell's surgery is one of 300 obesity surgeries that Monson has performed in the past four years. Performing a minimum of 150 obesity surgeries a year is one of the criteria that an organization has to meet in order to be named a Bariatric Surgery Center of Excellence by the American Society for Bariatric Surgery (ASBS). MeritCare recently received this designation after working toward it for a year. For patients, having surgery at a health system that has been named a center of excellence means that the organization has a demonstrated track record of favorable outcomes.
According to a study released in July 2005 by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, the number of U.S. bariatric surgeries more than quadrupled between 1998 and 2002 - from 13,386 to 71,733. Faced with clinical evidence that the most experienced and best-run bariatric surgery programs have by far the lowest rates of complications, the ASBS Centers of Excellence program was created to recognized bariatric surgery centers that perform well and to help surgeons and hospitals continue to improve the quality and safety of care provided.
Criteria for becoming a bariatric center of excellence:
- Must pass a series of site inspections; during the inspections, all aspects of the program's surgical processes are closely examined and data on health outcomes was collected.
To keep it's center of excellence status, MeritCare must show a 75 percent follow up with patients at the five-year mark to ensure compliance.
- Obesity in the U.S. - Obesity has become a significant national health issue; the CDC reports that 64 percent of all U.S. adults are overweight or obese. Morbid obesity is closely correlated with a number of serious conditions that severely undermine the health of overweight patients, including heart disease, high blood pressure and diabetes.
- Obesity surgeries - MeritCare performs three types of obesity surgery: traditional, or open, gastric bypass surgery, laparoscopic, or minimally invasive gastric bypass surgery and laparoscopic adjustable gastric banding surgery.
- Surgeons - MeritCare has three obesity surgeons: Drs. Monson, Michael Howell and Luis Garcia.
- Insurance/payment - In order for obesity surgery to be partially covered by insurance, most insurance companies require that patients have their surgery at a health system that has been designated as a center of excellence either by the ASBS or by the American College of Surgeons.