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Published on August 11, 2008

Abington Memorial Hospital has been Designated as a Blue Distinction Center for Bariatric Surgerysm

ABINGTON, PA (August 11, 2008) - Independence Blue Cross has announced Abington Memorial Hospital as a Blue Distinction Center for Bariatric Surgery. To date, only 221 facilities nationwide have received a Blue Distinction Center for Bariatric Surgery designation.

"It is a great honor for our team to receive Blue Distinction status, and to be recognized for our work in bariatric surgery," says, Fernando B. Bonanni, Jr., M.D., director, Institute for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery. "We are dedicated to providing our patients with a high-quality comprehensive approach to weight loss that features a full range of services, including several of the latest surgical options, ongoing support and counseling, an exercise program, a nutrition plan and a lifetime of follow up care."

Bariatric Surgery, or weight-loss surgery, refers to the various surgical procedures that can be performed to treat obesity, which is widely recognized as a contributor to serious health risks. The surgeries involve modifications of stomach, intestines or both. 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 individuals reduce extreme obesity and its associated health risks, and Blue Distinction® provides objective information to help them make informed decisions when choosing a provider.

"The Blue Distinction designation of bariatric and metabolic surgical services at Abington Memorial Hospital is a testament to the clinical excellence of the surgical teams who provide exemplary care to patients with morbid obesity who wish to be treated at a proven center of excellence," says John Kukora, M.D., chair, Department of Surgery.

Abington Memorial Hospital provides a full range of bariatric surgery care services, including inpatient care, post-operative care, outpatient follow-up and patient education. Abington Memorial Hospital's Institute for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery offers a high-quality, comprehensive approach to weight loss that features a full range of services, including several of the latest surgical options, ongoing support and counseling; an exercise program; and a nutrition plan and a lifetime of follow-up care. Its name reflects the commitment to treating metabolic diseases and conditions, including type 2 diabetes, hypertension, high cholesterol, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease and obstructive sleep apnea.

"The Blue Distinction Program is an important part of our commitment to offering members access to quality care," said Dr. I. Steven Udvarhelyi, chief medical officer at Independence Blue Cross. "Through this program we are able to identify physicians and hospitals that meet high quality standards and deliver better overall outcomes in patient care. We congratulate Abington Memorial Hospital for their achievement in becoming a newly designated Blue Distinction Center for Bariatric Surgery."

Abington Memorial Hospital met numerous selection criteria thresholds necessary to be named as a Blue Distinction Center for Bariatric Surgery, including:

  • offering a full-service inpatient hospital facility;
  • being fully accredited by The Joint Commission or Healthcare Facilities Accreditation Program;
  • performing a required volume of bariatric surgeries during the recent 12-month reporting period;
  • being staffed by an experienced and appropriately credentialed bariatric surgical team;
  • being supported by appropriate equipment and staffing;
  • establishing documented policies and procedures for patient care and follow-up care;
  • demonstrating a commitment to quality improvement, as shown by its ongoing quality management and improvement programs.

The full list of Blue Distinction selection criteria is available to the public at

Blue Distinction® is a designation awarded by Blue Cross and Blue Shield companies to medical facilities that have demonstrated expertise in delivering quality healthcare. The designation is based on rigorous, evidence-based selection criteria established in collaboration with leading clinicians, medical societies and professional organizations. Today, more than 800 Blue Distinction Center designations have been awarded to facilities nationwide, providing consumers with a framework for making informed decisions on where to go for specialty care in the areas of bariatric surgery, cardiac care, complex and rare cancers, and transplants.

About Abington Memorial Hospital

Abington Memorial Hospital is an independent 570-bed, acute care teaching hospital with a medical staff of more than 900 physicians and over 5,000 employees. These professionals provide medical care and health services to residents of Bucks, Montgomery and Philadelphia counties.

A regional provider, Abington Memorial Hospital has the only Level II accredited trauma center in Montgomery County and offers highly specialized services in cardiac care, cancer care, maternal child health and surgery.

About Independence Blue Cross

Independence Blue Cross is a leading health insurer in southeastern Pennsylvania. IBC and its affiliates provide coverage to nearly 3.4 million people. For 70 years, Independence Blue Cross has offered high-quality health care coverage tailored to meet the changing needs of members, employers, and health care professionals. Independence Blue Cross is an independent licensee of the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association, an association of independent Blue Cross and Blue Shield Plans.

Note: Designation as Blue Distinction Centers means these facilities' overall experience and aggregate data met objective criteria established in collaboration with expert clinicians' and leading professional organizations' recommendations. Individual outcomes may vary. To find out which services are covered under your policy at any facilities, please call your local Blue Cross and/or Blue Shield Plan.

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