Monongahela Valley Hospital Recognized for High Quality Bariatric Surgery


(November 19, 2019 - Carroll Township, Pa.)

Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield has recognized Monongahela Valley Hospital (MVH) with a Blue Distinction® Center for Bariatric Surgery designation as part of the Blue Distinction Specialty Care program. Blue Distinction Centers are nationally designated hospitals that show expertise in delivering improved patient safety and better health outcomes, based on objective measures that were developed with input from the medical community.

To receive a Blue Distinction Center for Bariatric Surgery designation, a health care facility must demonstrate success in meeting patient safety measures as well as bariatric-specific quality measures including complication and readmission rate for laparoscopic procedures in sleeve gastrectomy, gastric bypass and adjustable gastric band. A health care facility must also be nationally accredited at both the facility and bariatric program-specific levels.

In 2017, the Blue Distinction Centers for Bariatric Surgery program expanded to include not only the type of service provided, but also the site of care. Health care facilities were evaluated as either a comprehensive center or as an ambulatory surgery center.

Monongahela Valley Hospital is proud to be recognized by Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield (BCBS) for meeting the rigorous Blue Distinction Center quality selection criteria for bariatric surgery set by the Blue Distinction Specialty Care program.

"Since we introduced our bariatric surgery program in 2015, Monongahela Valley Hospital has been helping people enjoy a higher quality of life," said Louis J. Panza, MVH's president and CEO.

Hiram A. Gonzalez, M.D., who specializes in general and gastrointestinal surgery at MVH and directs its Bariatric Surgery Program, explained how the Hospital's commitment to high-quality care is significantly changing lives.

"Many of the people who have undergone bariatric surgery at MVH, have reduced their dependence on blood pressure and diabetes medications and they now enjoy the freedom to participate in routine daily activities that were previously not possible."

Bariatric surgeries are among the most common elective surgeries in the U.S. It is estimated that nearly 36.5 percent of U.S. adults and 17 percent of youth are obese and impacted by obesity-related health conditions, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The estimated annual health care costs of obesity-related conditions are nearly $210 billion per year in the U.S., according to the Journal of Health Economics. On average, health care costs were reduced by 29 percent within five years following bariatric surgery, due to the reduction or elimination of obesity-related conditions, according to the American Society of Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery.

"The Blue Distinction program gives Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield members the ability to choose their Providers based upon reliable quality and safety information. It also provides a pathway for exceptional Providers to demonstrate their value, and delivers the kind of transparency necessary for members to make informed value-driven health care decisions. We congratulate our Blue Distinction Specialty Care Providers on their accomplishment and thank our members for choosing Highmark BCBS", said Dr. Charles DeShazer, vice president and executive medical director, Clinical Services, Medical Policy & Quality.

Since 2006, the Blue Distinction Specialty Care program has helped patients find quality specialty care in the areas of bariatric surgery, cancer care, cardiac care, maternity care, knee and hip replacements, spine surgery and transplants, while encouraging health care professionals to improve the care they deliver. Research shows that compared to other health care facilities, those designated as Blue Distinction Centers demonstrate better quality and improved outcomes for patients.

About Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield

Highmark Inc. doing business as Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield serves approximately 3.3 million members through the company's health care benefits business and hundreds of thousands of additional members through the Blue card program. It employs more than 4,200 people in western, north central and northeastern Pennsylvania. Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield is an independent licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association, an association of independent Blue Cross and Blue Shield companies. For more information, visit www.highmark.com.

About Blue Cross Blue Shield Association

The Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association (BCBSA)is a national federation of 36 independent, community-based and locally operated Blue Cross and Blue Shield companies that collectively provide health care coverage for one in three Americans. BCBSA provides health care insights through The Health of America Report series and the national BCBS Health Index. For more information on BCBSA and its member companies, visit bcbs.com.

About Blue Distinction Centers

Blue Distinction Centers (BDC) met overall quality measures for patient safety and outcomes, developed with input from the medical community. A Local Blue Plan may require additional criteria for providers located in its own service area; for details, contact your Local Blue Plan. Blue Distinction Centers+ (BDC+) also met cost measures that address consumers' need for affordable health care. Each provider's cost of care is evaluated using data from its Local Blue Plan. Providers in CA, ID, NY, PA, and WA may lie in two Local Blue Plans' areas, resulting in two evaluations for cost of care; and their own Local Blue Plans decide whether one or both cost of care evaluation(s) must meet BDC+ national criteria. National criteria for BDC and BDC+ are displayed on www.bcbs.com. Individual outcomes may vary. For details on a provider's in-network status or your own policy's coverage, contact your Local Blue Plan and ask your provider before making an appointment. Neither Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association nor any Blue Plans are responsible for non-covered charges or other losses or damages resulting from Blue Distinction or other provider finder information or care received from Blue Distinction or other providers
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