PINEHURST, N.C. – FirstHealth of the Carolinas weight-loss surgery program, staffed by providers under contract with Pinehurst Surgical Clinic, has been designated a Center of Excellence by Optum.
Optum is a health care services group that operates across 150 countries and offers data-driven support and expertise to health care employers, government organizations, health plans, providers and pharmacy care services.
To earn Optum Centers of Excellence (COE) distinction, bariatric surgery programs must meet rigorous criteria for annual volume of surgeries, certifications, complications and mortality rate, length of program existence and experience of surgeons.
Raymond Washington, M.D., medical director of Moore Regional’s bariatric program, said it is an honor to receive the designation.
“We work hard to provide our patients with the best care possible and have helped thousands of people take control of their weight,” he said. “It is always rewarding to help others change their lives through bariatric surgery, and to be recognized for that commitment to quality care.”
Optum COEs have 19 percent lower mortality rate and 24 percent lower re-operation rate for bariatric procedures compared to non-COE providers. Additionally, COEs help lower total cost of care and support better outcomes.
“Designation as an Optum Center of Excellence helps open the doors to additional patients we otherwise may not be able to accept,” said FirstHealth Bariatric Center Program Manager Christi Embler, BSN, R.N., CBN.
Bariatric surgeries are among the most common elective surgeries in the U.S., with more than 256,000 bariatric surgeries performed in 2019 based on a report from the American Society of Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery (ASMBS).
David Grantham, M.D., general and bariatric surgeon, said bariatric surgeries can help patients control a number of health conditions and improve their quality of life.
“Benefits of the surgery extend far beyond weight loss and can include improved cardiovascular health, reduction of depression, joint pain relief and improved fertility, among others,” he said. “We aim to make these procedures accessible to as many patients as possible, and the COE designation helps us in that mission.”
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), surgery can also help improve or resolve cancer, Type 2 diabetes, hypertension, hyperlipidemia and sleep apnea in morbidly obese individuals.
In addition to the Optum COE designation, Moore Regional’s bariatric program has received a Blue Distinction Center+ for Bariatric Surgery designation by Blue Cross and Blue Shield. It has also 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). For more information about the program, visit www.NCWeightLossSurgery.org or call (800) 213-3284.