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Ten Year Anniversary

The Center for Weight Management and Bariatric Surgery marks 10 years of helping people live healthier lives

February 4, 2003. It was a red-letter day as the first gastric bypass surgery was performed at Lowell General Hospital through its new Center for Weight Management and Bariatric Surgery. Surgeon Michael Jiser, MD arrived in the operating room wearing his lucky Yankees surgical cap as the rest of the staff – forgiving Red Sox fans – cheered him nonetheless.

In May of the same year, surgeon Roy Shen, MD joined the team and by the end of 2003, he and Dr. Jiser had performed 104 gastric bypass procedures. Two more bariatric surgeons – Rebecca Shore, MD and Nari Sabeti, MD – came aboard in 2005 and 2010, respectively. To date, these four surgeons have performed more than 3,000 life-changing weight-loss surgeries.

"The most gratifying aspect of the past ten years is seeing these patients get healthy," says Christine LaBrecque, RN, BSN, CBN, who has served as the Center's program director since it opened. "It's about so much more than weight loss. They get off diabetes and high blood pressure medications. They run 5K races. They're enjoying their lives again." LaBrecque applauds Lowell General Hospital for its commitment to promoting wellness in a variety of ways.

"Recent studies from the Journal of American Medical Association show that poor diet and physical inactivity is the second leading cause of preventable death behind tobacco use. The hospital is really proactive about helping to tackle this issue and improve our community members' health," she says, citing a year-round roster of exercise, wellness and smoking cessation classes along with other health initiatives that Lowell General offers.

To make weight-loss surgery even more accessible, Lowell General Hospital is opening a second Center for Weight Management and Bariatric Surgery office in North Andover at 203 Turnpike Street in early 2013. It will offer the same comprehensive approach to life-changing weight loss that is available at our Chelmsford campus, including free information sessions, support groups, laboratory testing and counseling. Similarly, patients will be served by a multidisciplinary team of bariatric surgeons, nurse practitioner, dietitian, behavioral therapist, medical interpreter and patient advocate.

"We're thrilled to expand our program to the other side of Route 495," LaBrecque says, noting that 40 percent of the Center's patients have traveled from there to the Chelmsford location. "Now people can access our services closer to home."

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