Mease Countryside Hospital's Bariatric Program Receives Prestigious Accreditation

November 16, 2023
One patient and six members of the Mease Countryside bariatric team gather for a photo in the hospital’s lobby.
From left: Heather Hinchy, a bariatric patient who is a patient care tech at Mease Countryside Hospital; Lori Herold, dietitian; surgeon Theodore Small, MD; surgeon Richard Gordon, MD; Tammy Huckins, bariatric coordinator; surgeon Karthik Sugumaran, DO; Gina Jackson, RN, program manager.


Mease Countryside Hospital (MCH) has proven that it’s a high-quality choice for patients in need of weight-loss surgery.

The hospital’s bariatric program recently received accreditation as a Comprehensive Center by the Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery Accreditation and Quality Improvement Program (MBSAQIP), affirming that it meets the highest standards for patient safety and quality of care.

Bariatrics is the branch of medicine that deals with the causes, prevention and treatment of obesity. Nutrition, exercise, weight-loss behavioral therapy, drug therapy and weight-loss surgery are all components of the bariatric field.

MBSAQIP is the national accrediting program for bariatric surgery centers. Accreditation is good for three years.

“There was a feeling of relief because of all the hard work that went into obtaining the accreditation and also excitement and pride in the accomplishment,’’ said Gina Jackson, bariatric manager. 

To receive accreditation or reaccreditation, an experienced bariatric surgeon reviews the program’s structure, processes and clinical outcomes data. The review was done virtually.

Jackson, with the help of office manager Tammy Huckins, provided a PowerPoint tour with pictures from every department that touches bariatric patients, along with a complete list of inventory and specs. The entire multi-disciplinary team, including surgeons Theodore Small, MD, and Richard Gordon, MD, participated in a Microsoft Teams session and answered all the surveyor’s questions.

“The surveyor went through a review of 10 patients’ charts, and we provided evidence of compliance with over 90 pages of MBSAQIP standards and guidelines,’’ Jackson said. “We discussed pathways and protocols for every possible scenario. It was extremely thorough.’’

A hospital must have 50 bariatric procedures under its belt to even apply for accreditation. MCH met that standard easily. The hospital has been doing surgeries since 2020 and this year alone has performed close to 100 procedures. To help meet the demand, Dr. Gordon recently added surgeon Karthik Sugumaran, DO, to his team.

The hospital’s bariatric program offers a comprehensive, personalized weight management and weight loss surgery program designed around the unique needs of each patient. The team includes board-certified bariatric surgeons, a program manager to guide patients through each step of the journey, registered dietitians, fitness specialists, psychologists and more.

BayCare now has seven hospitals with accredited bariatric programs. In addition to Mease Countryside Hospital, St. Joseph’s Hospital-South and Winter Haven Hospital and Winter Haven Women's Hospital recently received their initial accreditations. Mease Dunedin Hospital, St. Anthony’s Hospital, South Florida Baptist Hospital and St. Joseph’s hospitals have accredited programs, and all four have been reaccredited.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that about 100.1 million adults in the United States are affected by obesity. The disease of 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, cardiovascular disease and cancer, among other health risks.

“As the number of individuals affected by obesity continues to grow, BayCare has expanded our bariatric programs to additional hospitals,’’ said St. Joseph’s Hospital-South President Patrick Downes, who is the executive champion for bariatrics. “We remain steadfast in our commitment to serve the needs of our communities.’’

For more information on Mease Countryside’s Hospital's bariatric program, visit Bariatrics Weight Management.

Learn more about BayCare bariatrics here.



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