Michael Garron Hospital (MGH) and Unity Health Toronto have partnered to open a Bariatric Centre of Excellence (BCoE) to provide their communities with access to bariatric surgical care close to home.
“Bariatric surgery is the most effective way to treat obesity and obesity-related diseases such as diabetes, hypertension and obstructive sleep apnea,” says Dr. Mary-Anne Aarts, bariatric surgeon at MGH.
A BCoE provides services with an inter-disciplinary team of experts comprised of a registered dietician, a social worker, a pharmacist, internists, psychiatrists, nurses, a patient coordinator and surgeons who adopt best practice to manage obesity. The Unity Health – MGH BCoE, which started seeing patients in October 2019, involves the opening of a Bariatric Assessment Centre (BAC) at Providence Healthcare and a partnership of three existing bariatric surgery sites: St. Michael’s Hospital, St. Joseph’s Health Centre and MGH. Together, the Centre provides comprehensive pre-operative, peri-operative and post-operative bariatric surgical care.
Patients seen at the Unity Health – MGH BCoE will first visit the Providence site for a comprehensive orientation program. The team will help patients assess if this is the right time to undergo bariatric surgery and discuss the different factors to consider as they make this decision. Topics include an overview of bariatric care options, types of bariatric surgery and the health and lifestyle changes that patients can expect post-surgery.
Following surgery, which can take place at any of the three surgical sites, the BAC team will follow patients for up to one year and help them transition to their family physician for ongoing care.
“Our new Centre provides a range of greatly-needed bariatric services to our local communities,” says Mark Fam, Vice President of Programs at MGH. “Our partnership with Unity Health is an excellent example of how a collaborative, community-based approach enhances seamless transitions and integrated care.”
Bariatric Centres of Excellence are a part of the Ontario Bariatric Network (OBN), a collaborative network funded by the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care that provides comprehensive medical and surgical bariatric services. Patients are allocated to one of the OBN’s bariatric centres based on their postal code.
Prior to the opening of the Unity Health – MGH BCoE, patients living in the St. Michael’s Hospital, St. Joseph’s Health Centre and MGH catchment areas often received their bariatric surgery elsewhere, based on where the OBN’s assessment centres were located in the Greater Toronto Area and which surgical site they referred patients to.
With the opening of the Unity Health – MGH BCoE, patients can now receive all aspects of their bariatric care close to home.
“Geographic location is one of the most important factors that impact access to, uptake and retention in bariatric surgery,” says Kelly Tough, Manager of the Unity Health – MGH BCoE. “Our goal with the Unity Health – MGH BCoE is to improve equity and access to bariatric surgery services in our catchment areas.”
The Unity Health – MGH BCoE serves patients from 11 postal codes. Referrals can be made through the OBN’s Online Referral System.