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Mary Washington Hospital revives weight-loss surgery program
Mary Washington Hospital has hired a specialist and is reviving its weight-loss surgery program

 Dr. Victor Stelmack soon will perform weight-loss surgeries at Mary Washington.
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Date published: 5/3/2007

BY JIM HALL

It's been nearly four years since Mary Washington Hospital has hosted a weight-loss surgery program.

So when the hospital said recently that it would resume the surgeries, interest was high. It sponsored two public meetings in the hospital auditorium, and dozens of potential patients attended.

"It was a wonderful outpouring," said Dr. Victor R. Stelmack. "It shows you the need in the community."

Stelmack arrived in Fredericksburg last August to revive the bariatric-surgery program. He expects to operate on his first patient here in June.

Hospital officials say that the new program will be different from the earlier program and will incorporate all that has been learned about the causes and treatment of obesity.

NEW PROGRAM

The new program will have two full-time, board-certified surgeons, Stelmack and Dr. Brian Mirza, who arrives in June.

Stelmack, 51, told the audience at one of his public meetings that he has done more than 800 bariatric surgeries, with one patient death and one case involving a leak at the bypass site.

Stelmack arrived in Fredericksburg with 26 years experience as a surgeon. He last worked at the Barix Clinics in Columbus, Ohio. Before that, he was a general surgeon in North Carolina and trauma surgeon in Philadelphia and New York.

Stelmack said he intends to set up a program at Mary Washington that qualifies as a "center of excellence," as defined either by the American Society for Bariatric Surgery, the ASBS, or the American College of Surgeons.

"I don't want to work anyplace that's not a center of excellence," he said. "I think it's important that we have those standards."

CENTER OF EXCELLENCE

The ASBS gives its center-of-excellence seal to programs that are safe and effective. Among its requirements:

The program must do at least 125 surgeries a year, and the surgeons must do at least 50 procedures a year. Stelmack said he and Mirza expect to do at least 600 procedures a year once their program is operational.

The surgeons must be board certified. And when the surgeons are away, the physician who covers for them must be experienced in the care of bariatric patients.

The hospital has to have nurses who routinely care for bariatric patients and who receive regular training in dealing with overweight patients.


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