Hospital Becomes Level 1A Bariatric Surgery Center




NEWTON, Mass. (November 14, 2006)  The Bariatric Surgery Program at Newton-Wellesley Hospital recently received accreditation as a Level 1A Bariatric Surgery Center from the American College of Surgeons (ACS), the highest level of accreditation a center can receive.  The Hospital was initially given provisional certification and after an official site visit in late October the program was awarded formal accreditation.

“This accreditation by the American College of Surgeons signifies that we have met the standards of a rigorous review process that ensures all of our patients are receiving the highest quality of care,” says Paula McGarr, RN, MBA, Director of Ambulatory Services at Newton-Wellesley Hospital.

Established by the American College of Surgeons in an effort to extend established quality improvement practices to all disciplines of surgical care, the bariatric surgery center accreditation program provides confirmation that a hospital has demonstrated its commitment to providing the highest quality care for its bariatric surgery patients. Accredited bariatric surgery centers provide not only the hospital resources necessary for optimal care of morbidly obese patients, but also the support and resources that are necessary to address the entire spectrum of care and needs of bariatric patients, from the pre-hospital phase through the post-operative care and treatment process. 

The Bariatric Surgery Center at Newton-Wellesley Hospital focuses on a multidisciplinary approach, which has been in place since the inception of the program at the Hospital. This approach has made Newton-Wellesley Hospital a leader in bariatric surgery for the past 10 years. The surgeons have already had great success with the program and average approximately 400 surgeries a year with a 95 percent success rate, which is defined as a patient who loses 65 percent of his or her excess weight and maintains that weight loss.

Sheila Partridge, MD, Medical Director of the Center is excited about the future and the services it will offer to patients. “We bring patients from throughout New England to receive bariatric surgery at Newton-Wellesley Hospital,” says Dr. Partridge. “We already had the model in place for a Level 1A Bariatric Surgery Center, but we are now transitioning to a hospital-based program, which will include more education for all Hospital staff and access for patients to other ancillary departments throughout the Hospital.” 

To prepare for accreditation, a team comprised of surgeons, anesthesiologists, radiologists, cardiologists, gastroenterologists, physical therapists, nurses and nutritionists, have been meeting on a regular basis to discuss treating the obese population and handling the unique needs of these patients.

The success of the program comes not only from the expertise of the surgeons, but also from their commitment to their patients. The comprehensive approach combines surgery with nutrition education and counseling, psychological counseling and referrals, peer support groups, long-term medical follow up and state-of-the-art hospital services – each vital to the success of the patient.

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) has recognized Newton-Wellesley Hospital and allows expanded Medicare coverage of bariatric surgery for beneficiaries of all ages who have been diagnosed with other health problems associated with obesity.  Medicare coverage has been limited to procedures performed in facilities certified by the American College of Surgeons or the American Society of Bariatric Surgery.

There are four categories of accreditation for inpatient facilities (Level 1a, 1b, 2a, and 2b) and one level for outpatient surgical care facilities. Each category has specific criteria that must be met by a facility seeking that level of accreditation. Each hospital undergoes an on-site verification by experienced bariatric surgeons, who review the center’s structure, process, and quality of data using the current ACS Bariatric Surgery Center Network Accreditation Program Manual as a guideline in conducting the survey.  Because high-quality surgical care requires documentation using reliable measurements of outcomes, accredited bariatric surgery centers are required to report their bariatric surgery outcomes data either to the American College of Surgeons National Surgical Quality Improvement Program (ACS NSQIP) or the College’s BSCN Database, using a Web-based data entry system.

In the United States, more than 11 million people suffer from severe obesity, and the numbers continue to increase. Obesity increases the risks of morbidity and mortality because of the diseases and conditions that are commonly associated with it, such as type II diabetes, hypertension, and cardiovascular disease, among other health risks. At the present time, weight-loss surgery provides the only effective, lasting relief from severe obesity. Therefore, the ACS believes it is of utmost importance to extend its quality initiatives to accrediting bariatric surgery centers so that it can assist the public in identifying those facilities that provide optimal surgical care for patients who undergo this surgical procedure.    

For more information about the Bariatric Surgery Center, call CareFinder at (866) NWH-DOCS (694-3627) or visit

Rachel Kagno
Public Affairs & Marketing
Newton-Wellesley Hospital

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