NHRMC Bariatric Program Recognized for “Excellence”

December 17, 2007
New Hanover Regional Medical Center is committed to providing excellent service to patients in need of bariatric surgery services through stringent criteria that were developed in 2002 for its Bariatric Program. Those who set the standards for bariatric care have recognized the results of that process.

The American Society of Bariatric Surgery awarded New Hanover Regional Medical Center and surgeons, David Miles, MD and James Harris, MD Bariatric Center of Excellence status in 2005. Nationwide there are only 307 hospitals and 541 surgeons who have achieved this designation. To be recognized, hospitals and surgeons must prove they have the resources to perform the surgery safely and their patients have excellent short and long-term outcomes.

Blue Cross/Blue Shield has also designated NHRMC as one of ten Obesity Surgery Centers of Excellence in North Carolina. Blue Cross guidelines cite key components as quality outcomes, the ability to assess and follow through with patients, surgical experience, ability to manage patients, and a willingness to track results.

New Hanover Regional Medical Center’s Bariatric Coordinator, Kim Joyner, RN, says a lot has gone into making NHRMC a Bariatric Center of Excellence. Procedures are well thought out and are standardized for both surgeons performing the surgery.

“Surgeons follow the same methods and procedures so the staff is well-versed in how it works,” said Joyner. “There is intense training for the nurses and staff members.”

A Blue Cross/Blue Shield study of bariatric programs released in 2006 found patients who had surgery by a Center of Excellence (COE) provider stayed in the hospital an average of 2.5 days, compared to 3 days for those who had surgery by a non-COE provider. Additionally, the percentage of patients who had to be re-admitted to the hospital within 30 days of their procedure was 4.7 percent for COE providers versus 8.3 percent for non-COE providers. New Hanover Regional Medical Center’s length of stay and readmission rates are lower than these averages, with patients staying in the hospital an average 1.2 days and being readmitted at a rate of 4.13 percent.

The skill and experience of the surgeons is important to the designation. Since 2002, Dr. Miles and Dr. Harris have performed 975 bariatric surgeries.

Additionally, the hospital has invested in the equipment necessary to care for severely obese patients. Special rooms and beds have been added to accommodate patients weighing up to 1,000 pounds.

“The hospital has made a tremendous commitment to accommodate patients and make it a quality program,” said Joyner.