MVHS saluted for its bariatric surgery


Excellus BlueCross BlueShield has recognized the Mohawk Valley Health System with a Blue Distinction Center+ for Bariatric Surgery designation as part of the Blue Distinction Specialty Care program.

Each year, more than 450 bariatric (weight loss) surgeries are performed annually at the St. Luke’s campus. Bariatric surgeon William Graber is the medical director for the program and is supported by Angela Soja, bariatric clinical coordinator.

“We have a very successful bariatric program at MVHS and this distinction is a direct reflection of our expertise, teamwork and commitment to our patients,” said Graber.

Blue Distinction centers are designated medical facilities that show expertise in delivering improved patient safety and better health outcomes, based on measures that were developed with input from the medical community, according to the health coverage provider.

“This distinction is a product of collaboration between specialty trained bariatric surgeons and MVHS,” said Soja.

To receive a Blue Distinction Center+ for Bariatric Surgery designation, a health care facility must meet patient safety measures as well as bariatric-specific quality measures, including complication and readmission rates for laparoscopic procedures in sleeve gastrectomy, gastric bypass and adjustable gastric band.

A facility must also be nationally accredited at both the facility and bariatric program-specific levels, as well as having demonstrated cost efficiency compared to its peers.                                                                                                                              

Bariatric surgeries are among the most common elective surgeries in the U.S. There were 196,000 bariatric surgeries performed in 2015, according to the American Society of Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery. The average cost is more than $28,000 per episode, according to the Journal of the American Medical Association.

It is estimated that nearly 36.5 percent of U.S. adults and 17 percent of youth are obese and affected by obesity-related health conditions, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The estimated annual health care costs of obesity-related conditions are nearly $210 billion per year in the U.S., says the Journal of Health Economics. On average, health care costs were reduced by 29 percent within five years following bariatric surgery, due to the reduction or elimination of obesity-related conditions, according to ASMBS.

Blue Cross and Blue Shield companies across the nation have recognized more than 550 health care facilities as Blue Distinction Centers for Bariatric Surgery.

Since 2006, the Blue Distinction Specialty Care program has helped patients find quality specialty care in the areas of bariatric surgery, cancer care, cardiac care, maternity care, knee and hip replacements, spine surgery and transplants, while encouraging health care professionals to improve the care they deliver.


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