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Buffalo General Medical Center Recognized for Quality, Cost-Effective Bariatric Surgery

Updated: 2/9/2015

Healthcare facility among first to receive new designation



BlueCross BlueShield of Western New York has recognized Buffalo General Medical Center as one of the first healthcare facilities in the nation to receive a Blue Distinction® Center+ designation in the area of bariatric surgery by the Blue Distinction® Centers for Specialty Care program. Blue Distinction® Centers are nationally designated healthcare facilities shown to deliver quality specialty care based on objective measures, which were developed with input from the medical community, for patient safety and better health outcomes.

“I couldn’t be prouder of our bariatric team in achieving this tremendous clinical recognition,” said Cheryl Klass, president, Buffalo General Medical Center. “This designation is the direct result of dedicated work by a multidisciplinary team whose sole goal is to provide the highest quality of care to the patients we serve.” 

To receive a Blue Distinction Center+ for Bariatric Surgery designation, a healthcare facility must demonstrate success in meeting patient safety as well as bariatric-specific quality measures, including complications and readmissions, for gastric stapling and/or gastric banding procedures. A healthcare facility must also have earned national accreditations at both the facility level and the bariatric care-specific level, as well as demonstrate better cost efficiency relative to its peers. 

Quality is key: only those facilities that first meet Blue Distinction’s nationally-established, objective quality measures will be considered for designation as a Blue Distinction Center+. Buffalo General Medical Center is proud to be recognized by BlueCross BlueShield of Western New York for meeting the rigorous selection criteria for bariatric surgery set by the Blue Distinction Centers for Specialty Care program. 

“Our weight loss patients can attest to the outstanding care and outcomes of our program for almost 10 years now,” said Aaron Hoffman, MD, medical director, Center for Minimally Invasive Surgery at Buffalo General Medical Center. “This latest external honor and recognition only adds to our belief that bariatric surgery is a cornerstone of the burgeoning development of the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus as a regional center of medical innovation and quality.”

Bariatric surgeries are among the most common elective surgeries in the U.S., which provides a significant opportunity to improve quality and efficiency within the healthcare system. There were 179,000 bariatric surgeries performed in 2013, according to the American Society of Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery, and the average cost is more than $28,000 per episode, according to the Journal of the American Medical Association. Furthermore, it is estimated that 72 million Americans are obese and 24 million suffer from morbid obesity, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The estimated annual healthcare costs of obesity-related illnesses are $190.2 billion, or nearly 21 percent of annual medical spending in the U.S., according to the Journal of Health Economics. 

“We are pleased that Buffalo General has been recognized for their quality Bariatric Surgery,” said Dr. Thomas Schenk, senior vice president and chief medical officer, BlueCross BlueShield of Western New York. “As part of the BlueCross BlueShield network, they are a valued provider of quality care for our members.” 

Research shows that facilities designated as Blue Distinction Centers+ demonstrate better quality and improved outcomes for patients compared with their peers. On average, Blue Distinction Centers+ are also 20 percent or more cost efficient than non-BDC+ designated healthcare facilities. 

Since 2006, the Blue Distinction Centers for Specialty Care program has helped patients find quality providers for their specialty care needs in the areas of bariatric surgery, cardiac care, complex and rare cancers, knee and hip replacements, spine surgery, and transplants while encouraging healthcare professionals to improve the care they deliver. For more information about the program and for a complete listing of the designated facilities, please visit www.bcbs.com/bluedistinction.