While northerners who wish to receive weight-loss surgery must currently travel to Toronto, a Health Sciences North official said she hopes the day is coming when the surgery is performed in Sudbury instead.
Lisa Smith, administrative director of Health Sciences North's emergency and ambulatory care programs, said she thinks there's enough demand for the procedure — known as bariatric surgery — in Northern Ontario.
It's something we'd want to do ...
administrative director of Health Sciences North's emergency and ambulatory care programs
But an experienced surgeon specializing in these types of surgeries must first be recruited, she said.
Currently pre- and post-operative care for those receiving bariatric surgery is provided at Health Sciences North's Sudbury Outpatient Centre, but the actual surgery is performed in Toronto.
“It's something we'd want to do, because being able to provide the pre-operative and the post-operative care, we think how good it would be for any patient to be able to provide a holistic approach,” Smith said.
To qualify for bariatric surgery, patients must have a BMI of 40 or greater if they have no other health problems, or a BMI of 35 or greater if they have a chronic health condition such as diabetes.
They must also be committed to changing their lifestyle, have stable mental health and be a non-smoker.
Health Sciences North's bariatric assessment and treatment program has only been around for two years. Last year, the program was used by 160 patients, and it's on target to reach or even exceed its goal of 300 patients this year.
“There may be opportunity again with the Ontario Bariatric Network if we demonstrate we can meet or exceed an annual target of 300 to advocate to get an increased target,” Smith said.
As she told Health Sciences North's board of directors during their Oct. 8 meeting, those who receive bariatric surgery see significant weight loss.
A cohort of 24 Health Sciences North patients lost an average of 76.25 pounds, saw a 24-per-cent improvement in their average Body Mass Index and a 25-per-cent improvement in waist circumference.
These are fairly typical results for those undergoing bariatric surgery, said Joanne Guizzo, Health Sciences North's ambulatory care manager.
Patients in the bariatric assessment and treatment program also have a chance to participate in research studies, she said.
One of them involves vitamin D absorption after surgery, and looking at the best types of vitamin supplements to give those who have undergone weight-loss surgery.