St. Mary's New Center Offers Hope For Morbidly Obese

Web Producer: Brad Maglinger

If you're having major surgery that requires a large incision and dozens of stitches and staples, the last thing you want to do is suffer through a long car trip afterwards. That's what gastric bypass patients had to do, until now.

Vicki Woods used to dread clothes shopping, until she lost more than 100 pounds after having gastric bypass surgery. Since the procedure wasn't offered locally, she had to go to Louisville. "One of the concerns of especially my husband and my family is 'What do we do if there is a problem? Can we take her here to the emergency room? Do we have to drive all the way back to Louisville?'" Woods said.

That uncertainty is a thing of the past now that St. Mary's is opening a new Bariatric Center. Patients will get their initial assessments done here, have the surgery at the hospital and then come back here for check-ups and other fundamental services.

Bariatric Center director Stephany Stanton said, "Part of the criteria of being accepted or becoming a patient here is that you have to be committed to the program and be willing to come back and be a part of those support groups and to meet with a dietitian, meet with a psychologist."

The center will specialize in Roux-en-Y gastric bypass, where a row of staples seals off most of the stomach, leaving a small pouch that restricts food intake. The small intestine is then rerouted, which also reduces the absorption of calories.

Bariatric medical director Jane Royalty said, "It's the most effective procedure for weight loss right now, more so than the diet and exercise programs. It's unfortunate that we don't have more success with that, but really when you look at it probably 85 percent of people are not going to be successful long term in losing this weight when they start out at a morbidly obese weight."

That's the case for Jane Diehl, who's second in line to get the surgery here. Several of her fellow members of the Evansville Surgical Weight Loss Support Group will be right behind her. "So many people are just wanting to get healthy again and have tried the different stuff; the weight watchers, the pills and all that stuff that goes along with it. So, I think there's going to be a big turnout," Diehl said.

St. Mary's Bariatric Center will open its doors June 16th. In the future, they hope to expand to offer other types of weight loss procedures and doctor supervised diet and exercise plans for patient who don't meet the criteria for surgery.