Community Hospital expands weight-loss surgery offerings

GRETEL DAUGHERTY/The Daily Sentinel—Dr. Andrew Morse, left, talks with Heather Sarten, a nurse in the bariatric program at Community Hosptial in Grand Junction, and hospital CEO Chris Thomas in one of the rooms in the new bariatric unit Wednesday. Morse is one of the four general surgeons who participate in the expanded bariatric program.

Community Hospital on Wednesday unveiled four newly remodeled rooms for weight loss surgery patients at the hospital’s 2021 N. 12th St. campus.

The hospital has offered LapBand weight loss surgery since May 2009. Community expanded its weight loss procedure offerings in August to include sleeve gastrectomy and gastric bypass surgery with the addition of Drs. James J. Hanosh, Eric J. Hanly, and Teyen P. Shiao, all of General Surgeons of Western Colorado. Dr. Andrew Morse of Surgical Associates of Western Colorado has performed LapBand surgery at Community Hospital for three years and will continue to do so. Each surgeon also performs weight loss surgeries at other area hospitals.

The hospital is set to move into a new building at 2373 G Road in the next two to three years. But Community Hospital President and Chief Executive Officer Chris Thomas said he wanted the rooms renovated and the surgeons added before the move in order to offer patients greater variety in their weight loss, or bariatric, procedure choices. The hospital was able to save money on renovations by using in-house facilities employees to perform the work.

LapBand and sleeve gastrectomy procedures can be performed as outpatient surgery, Thomas said, but the hospital needed to renovate a few rooms for bypass patients who may need more time in hospital care. The rooms have wider bathrooms, beds and chairs to accommodate larger patients; hover mats to move patients into bed after surgery; and a pulley system to help patients move or sit up in bed.

Morse said he anticipates more hospitals, including the new Community campus, will have more amenities geared toward larger patients as obesity rates increase. Hanosh said Colorado may be the leanest state in the U.S., but the state’s obesity rate was still 20.7 percent in 2011, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“There’s a need for it in this area as across the country,” Hanosh said, referring to bariatric procedures.

Hanosh said the biggest struggle for bariatric surgeons and their patients is convincing insurance companies to cover the procedures.

“We’re working with them to show them the benefits,” Hanosh said.


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