Merit Health Wesley: Weight-loss surgery program receives accreditation

(The following is a press release from Merit Health Wesley.  Visit for more details.)

HATTIESBURG – Merit Health Wesley recently announced its bariatric surgical center, which provides weight-loss surgical services, has been accredited as a Comprehensive Center under the Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery Accreditation and Quality Improvement Program (MBSAQIP®), a joint program of the American College of Surgeons (ACS) and the American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery (ASMBS). Pine Belt men and women who suffer from severe obesity and its related conditions now have a choice for receiving treatment at a nationally accredited program that meets the highest standards for patient safety and quality.

"Meeting the standards and requirements for accreditation in this area illustrates our promise to provide the best care possible for those who desire to get back on the road to health through weight-loss surgery," said Mike Neuendorf, Chief Executive Officer of Merit Health Wesley. "We continue to partner with organizations that set the industry standards for excellence because we believe in providing our community with the highest quality of services."

The MBSAQIP Standards ensure that bariatric surgical patients receive a multidisciplinary program, not just a surgical procedure, including support groups, seminars, and membership to Merit Health Wellness Center to keep patients active and surrounded by others who are working towards the same goals. The accredited center offers preoperative and postoperative care and counseling designed specifically for severely overweight patients.

Merit Health Wesley's commitment to quality care begins with a dedicated team, led by Wesley Girod, M.D., which meets regularly to review patient outcomes.  The team seeks continuous improvement to enhance the structure, process and outcomes for patients.

To earn the MBSAQIP designation, Merit Health Wesley met essential criteria for staffing, training and facility infrastructure and protocols for care, ensuring its ability to support patients with severe obesity who require special care. The center also participates in a national data registry that yields semiannual reports on the quality of its processes and outcomes, identifying opportunities for continuous quality improvement. The standards are specified in the MBSAQIP Resources for Optimal Care of the Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery Patient 2014, published by the ACS and ASMBS.

"Weight-loss surgery is life-changing for those who undergo the procedure, and we want to play a leading role in getting our community healthy for good," said Wesley Girod, M.D., Bariatric Surgery Director. "We have always partnered with our patients to help ensure that they have the best possible outcomes, guiding them through their weight-loss journey. Being accredited doesn't change what we do, but it supports our efforts to let patients know we are committed to their success."

To qualify for weight-loss surgery, patients must be 18 or older and meet other criteria, such as having a body mass index (BMI) of 40 or greater, or have a BMI of 35 and other significant medical conditions such as sleep apnea or hypertension. To learn about criteria, surgical options and more, visit

In the United States, around 15.5 million people suffer from severe obesity, according to the National Institutes of Health, 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. Metabolic and bariatric surgical procedures have proven to be effective in the reduction of conditions related to severe obesity.* Working with ASMBS, the ACS expanded this quality program for bariatric surgery centers so that it can assist bariatric patients in identifying those centers that provide optimal surgical care.