BY MARIA BROWNSELL
Some people cannot lose enough weight with diet and exercise. Some people have tried so many times and in so many different ways, they have given up. The Surgical Weight Loss Institute, part of Bon Secours Charity Health System, is giving these people new hope to make a change. On Friday, May 31, the institute had its grand opening for a brand new satellite office in Suffern.
“It’s an exciting time for us. Our practices got together, Recover Health and Tri State Bariatrics. We decided to bring in and create a bigger practice with in-house surgeons, nurses, dieticians, radiology and more,” explained Dr. Ramon Rivera.
The office is used for consultations with patients, testing, follow up appointments, and adjustments for certain procedures. The procedures themselves are done down the street at Good Samaritan Hospital. This office is the closest to the hospital where the procedures are performed. There are many different rooms set up to meet the needs of the patients and staff. Some of the rooms have beds that can hold up to 1000 pounds and can adjust many different positions for the comfort of the patients and access for the doctor.
Dr. Ramon River, Dr. Wayne Weiss, and Dr. Matthew Ostrowitz are the surgeons for the Suffern office. Dr. Peter Kwon is the medical director and the man who started it all. May marked the 10th anniversary of the surgical weight-loss program opening at Bon Secours Community Hospital, in Port Jervis. Dr. Kwon was the one to perform the first three Lap-Band surgeries at the hospital, with a total of fifty to be done that year. In 2008 gastric bypass surgery began at the hospital, followed by gastric sleeve in 2010.
“We’ve grown from our original staff of about four to about 40,” said Dr. Kwon. “We are close to Good Samaritan Hospital where we hope that we can increase the access of bariatric surgery for all the severely obese persons of this region in Rockland County and the surrounding areas as well.”
The program has received the American Society of Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery recognition as a Center of Excellence. This is the highest recognition for a bariatric program in the industry.
When a person is considering weight loss surgery, the first step is to attend a seminar about the three different options. The Lap-Band is band placed around the stomach and restricts the amount of food required to make the person feel full. This procedure is done laparoscopically, making it the least invasive and safest method. It can be adjusted with just a long needle in the future to loosen or tighten the band. The sleeve gastrectomy works by removing a large part of the stomach, which causes a reduction in the hormone that makes a person hungry. The gastric bypass or Roux-en-Y creates a stomach pouch by stapling shut a small portion of the stomach and the small intestine is divided and reconnected to the new stomach.
“There are some risks, but we mitigate them. Right now we have the largest group of bariatric specialists in this office. We have combined probably more than 20 years of experience. We’ve been doing surgeries over 10-15 years and we’ve done over 4,000 surgeries, so we have the expertise,” said Rivera.
After the seminar, each potential patient meets with the team members, starting with the nurse practitioner, then the dietitian, the insurance specialist, and the bariatric coordinator for surgery. After surgery is completed, the patient’s relationship with the office is not over. There are post-operative care visits, plus support groups to keep the motivation high.
“I no longer worry about every aspect of every single solitary thing to consider in every single place I go, like if the restaurant has stools or booths or tables, extra seat belts on the plane, things like that,” said Steve who had the sleeve by the institute. He had his surgery less than 11 months ago and has already lost over 100 pounds.
“You can just live your life without having to plan it out. You can just get in a car and go,” added another patient, Rebecca.