Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Dakota, Fargo, has designated Altru Health System, Grand Forks, and re-designated MeritCare Health System, Fargo, Medcenter One, Bismarck, and St. Alexius Medical Center, Bismarck, as Blue Distinction Centers for Bariatric Surgery.
Blue Distinction Centers for Bariatric Surgery are designated facilities within the participating Blue Cross and Blue Shield network service areas that offer comprehensive bariatric surgery services. To date, more than 200 facilities nationwide have received this designation. In North Dakota, MeritCare, Medcenter One, St. Alexius and Altru provide a full range of bariatric surgery care services, including inpatient care, post-operative care, outpatient follow-up and patient education.
Selection criteria for Blue Distinction Centers for Bariatric Surgery were developed with the objective of improving overall patient outcomes. The criteria include:
- Full-service, accredited inpatient hospital facilities
- Fully accredited by The Joint Commission or Healthcare Facilities Accreditation Program
- Program must be performing bariatric surgery for the most recent 12-month period and must perform a required volume of bariatric surgical cases
- Experience and credentialing of the bariatric surgical team
- Ongoing quality management and improvement programs
- Appropriate equipment and staffing
- Patient care and follow-up care including evaluation of bariatric surgery re-operation and mortality rates
Obesity is widely recognized as a contributor to serious health risks. According to the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ), the total number of bariatric surgeries increased 400 percent from 1998 to 2004. Bariatric surgery may help some people reduce extreme obesity and its associated health risks, and Blue Distinction provides objective information to help them make informed decisions when choosing a provider.
"Blue Distinction Centers show our commitment to working with doctors and hospitals in communities across the country to identify leading institutions that meet clinically validated quality standards and deliver better overall outcomes in patient care," said Dr. Allan Korn, Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association chief medical officer.
Facilities are required to reapply for the designation on a regular basis.