The COVID-19 pandemic caused many ups and downs in the health care community this past year. But even amongst the negatives of the pandemic, Inspira Health found success. In June, we celebrated one year of bariatric surgery at Inspira Medical Center Mullica Hill.
For many people, controlling their weight is a daily challenge. When immediate and sustained weight loss is medically necessary, bariatric surgery or a medical weight management program can be a life saver. For most people, taking the first step toward successful weight loss is the toughest part.
The Inspira Weight Management and Bariatric Surgery Program team includes surgeons, Obesity Medicine physicians, nutritionists, pharmacists and other specialists. Together, they have helped hundreds of patients get started, keep going and meet their goals.
The program guides and assists patients at all points on their weight loss journey. From dietary and nutritional education, to non-surgical and minimally invasive procedures, Inspira’s team focuses on the specific needs of each individual.
More Than Just Weight Loss
Ahmed Attia, D.O., a board-certified general surgeon and medical director of the bariatric program at Inspira Vineland, said that though weight loss is an immediate goal of bariatric surgery, the real payoff is in improved overall health.
“Inspira has over 20 years of excellent surgical results while maintaining certification by the American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery,” he said. “What is most rewarding is seeing people not only get healthier, but also grow more confident. Weight loss can help people get back to doing everything they want to do; things that might have been made more difficult or impossible by obesity or its related health complications.”
Conditions associated with obesity can include diabetes, high cholesterol or blood pressure, heart disease, sleep apnea, joint disease, urinary incontinence and more.
The experienced bariatric team at Inspira also includes board-certified surgeons Nauveed Iqbal, M.D. and Derek Stephenson, M.D. – who is director of the bariatric program at Inspira Elmer. (See how one patient’s life was transformed through her determination to be healthier and bariatric surgery performed by Dr. Iqbal here.)
A Full Range of Weight Loss Options
Patients who are eligible for bariatric surgery are those with a body mass index - or BMI - greater than 40. BMI is a formula used to calculate a person’s body fat content based on height and weight. Patients with a BMI greater than 35, who have other weight-related health issues, may also be eligible.
Patients who are not candidates for traditional bariatric surgery, either because their BMI is lower or they need to get other conditions under control first, can benefit from many other weight loss services available at Inspira.
Keith Kreitz, M.D., is a bariatric surgeon and medical director of Bariatric Surgery at Inspira Medical Center Mullica Hill. He is responsible for developing the bariatrics program, patient education, inpatient and outpatient care, training, and staff coordination between bariatrics and other Inspira services.
Besides traditional bariatric surgery, Kreitz also performs other surgical procedures to treat people with a lower BMI. One procedure, called endoscopic gastric balloon placement, is appropriate for patients with a BMI of 30 or above. The partial-day outpatient procedure is less invasive, for faster recovery and improved outcomes.
“Because excess weight is far more than simply a cosmetic issue, we focus on educating people about the health benefits of bariatric surgery as well as medical and behavioral approaches to weight loss,” he said. “It is amazing and inspiring to see what happens with patients who follow our program.”
More Than Surgery
Inspira’s treatment program includes access to mental health counseling, education and injectable medications. The goal is to help patients achieve healthy weight loss, all under the care of physicians with specialized training.
The Obesity Medicine Fellowship program is a 12-month physician training program in medical and surgical care. Nicole Zucconi, D.O., is director of the Obesity Medicine Fellowship Program as well as the Inspira Family Medicine Residency Program. She and Kreitz lead this innovative fellowship program. There are fewer than 20 such programs in the United States.
Rebecca F. Fraid, D.O., is board-certified in family medicine and is the program’s Obesity Medicine Fellow. She sees patients in both Millville and Mullica Hill. Fraid said that many weight management patients have one thing in common.
“Most patients have made the decision to lose weight before they see me, and it feels great to be able to help them move forward,” she said. “The patients love the program. I start with very small goals and we come up with things that they think they can achieve. There are no diets. At the end of the day we’re all human and we have to account for the hurdles that every patient faces, including lifestyle, cultural background, financial issues, emotional health and even eating disorders. Weight loss can be a marathon, not a sprint, but most of our patients are very motivated. They get excited when they see results and they want more. Those who stick to the plan succeed.”