Bariatric Accreditation Expands Suncoast Patients' Weight-loss Surgery Options

Bariatric Accreditation Expands Suncoast Patients' Weight-loss Surgery Options

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

SARASOTA (May 8, 2018) – Patients seeking weight-loss surgery have a top-tier choice at Sarasota Memorial Hospital, now a nationally accredited program that meets the highest standards for patient safety and quality of care.

SMH’s Bariatric and Metabolic Health Center has been accredited as a higher level “Comprehensive Center” under the Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery Accreditation and Quality Improvement Program (MBSAQIP), a joint program of the American College of Surgeons and the American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery. 

The designation recognizes that the SMH bariatric program meets the highest standards established in the nation for the care of bariatric patients and that its surgeons have the specialized skills, experience and successful outcomes to manage patients with complex disease. As an MBSAQIP accredited program, its team can treat patients beyond the age and BMI limits placed on lower acuity programs. The accreditation also provides access to treatment closer to home for people whose insurance plans require accreditation for coverage.

MBSAQIP standards and accreditation “ensure that bariatric surgical patients receive a multidisciplinary program, not just a surgical procedure, which improves patient outcomes and long-term success,” MBSAQIP noted. 

Arundathi Rao, MD, a board-certified general surgeon who is fellowship trained in Bariatric, Minimally Invasive and Robotic Surgery, serves as medical director of SMH’s Bariatric and Metabolic Health Center and oversees its full range of medical, surgical and support services. The SMH team also includes general surgeons Patrick Fitzgerald, MD, and John Nora, MD, as well as nurses, dietitians and clinicians who provide dietary/nutritional counseling, psycho-social services, exercise programs and lifetime support. 

“Surgery is actually the smallest piece of the puzzle,” said Dr. Rao. “People battling obesity face many challenges – physical, psychological, emotional. It takes a comprehensive team to help patients identify and manage the lifestyle changes necessary to ensure their long-term success.”

More than one-third of adults in the United States are obese (body mass index of 30 or more), and another third are overweight (BMI of 25 to 29.9), according to the National Institutes of Health; together, the conditions make up the second leading cause of preventable death in the United States.

Weight loss and health benefits following bariatric surgery are dramatic, Rao said. Clinical studies show that people who have bariatric surgery experience marked improvement or complete alleviation of more than 40 weight-related conditions, including high blood pressure, sleep apnea and diabetes. And many times, the transformative effect happens within 48 hours of surgery.

“Bariatric surgery is not the first recommended treatment for obesity, but for people who have tried multiple times to lose the weight on their own, surgery represents a safe and effective tool to achieve sustained weight loss and reverse many associated health risks,” she said. 

SMH’s bariatric program specializes in da Vinci-assisted robotic surgery, which allows for less invasive procedures with shorter recovery times; it offers the Roux-en-y gastric bypass, sleeve gastrectomy and complex revisions/repairs of bariatric procedures, including the conversion of lap bands to gastric bypass or sleeves. Sarasota Memorial also offers continuation of care for patients who have had bariatric surgery in other locations.

As an accredited Comprehensive Center, Sarasota Memorial participates in a national data registry that produces semiannual reports on the quality of its processes and outcomes, and also identifies opportunities for continuous quality improvement. Approximately 80 percent of SMH’s bariatric patients have reported that weight-loss surgery reversed their diabetes, compared to the national average of 62 percent, and another 80 percent of patients reported that their sleep apnea issues disappeared after weight-loss surgery, compared to the national average of 65 percent.

About SMH’s Bariatric & Metabolic Health Center 
Sarasota Memorial’s Bariatric and Metabolic Health Center provides a comprehensive range of surgical options for people who are overweight or battling obesity, including nutritional counseling, dietary and exercise programs, and monthly support groups. The bariatric team hosts free, ongoing “Meet the Surgeon” seminars for the public to explain different weight-loss surgery options, as well as lifetime support groups. SMH has an active, private Facebook group for SMH bariatric patients to give and get peer support throughout their journey. The center is located in the Sarasota Memorial Health Care Center at Clark Road, 5880 Rand Boulevard, Sarasota. For more information, call 941-917-4753 or visit

About Sarasota Memorial
Sarasota Memorial Health Care System is a regional referral center offering Southwest Florida’s greatest breadth and depth of care, with more than 900,000 patient visits each year. Its flagship 829-bed, acute-care hospital has been consistently recognized as one of the nation’s largest and best, with superior patient outcomes and a complete continuum of outpatient services – from urgent care, trauma and emergency services to laboratory and diagnostic imaging, home health, skilled nursing and rehabilitation. SMH is the only hospital in Florida to have consistently earned the federal Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services’ highest five-star quality award since the rating system launched in 2016.