Bariatric program expands to comprehensive weight-loss center

The Metabolic & Weight Management Center is now open in Southern Pines and offers new medical resources for surgical and nonsurgical weight loss.

A joint venture between Pinehurst Surgical Clinic, FirstHealth of the Carolinas and Pinehurst Medical Clinic, the center is unique to the area and one of only a few comprehensive metabolic centers in North Carolina.

Located off Morganton Road, at 300 Pavilion Way, Suite 102, the Metabolic & Weight Management Center opened to patients in February, with the addition of medical weight management services in April. The Center is an expansion of the FirstHealth Bariatrics program, founded in 1999, and the new name and building mark an important expansion of capabilities.

Alex Bonnecaze, M.D., a Pinehurst Medical Clinic endocrinologist has joined David Grantham, M.D., and Raymond Washington, M.D., Pinehurst Surgical Clinic bariatric surgeons, to form an interdisciplinary team of physicians. All three are highly experienced and board-certified.

“There has been a growing need to offer nonsurgical options for weight loss,” Dr. Washington said. “Surgery is not the preferred approach for every patient, and the addition of medical weight management allows us to still treat individuals who either are not surgical candidates or would like to try another route first.”

Expanding services and bringing an endocrinologist on board also creates the opportunity to offer better, more streamlined patient care.

Endocrinology, or the study and management of hormones, can help non-surgically treat the complex disease of obesity. Dr. Bonnecaze offers a variety of tools for medical weight management, including anti-obesity medications. He works one on one with patients to determine an ideal treatment plan for their specific situation. Individualized plans may include lab work, treatment of obesity-related complications and assistance changing habits that inhibit weight loss.

Nonsurgical patients also receive guidance from a registered dietitian and customized weight-loss diet plans.

“Having a variety of tools available to assist patients with their weight helps us provide the best care to treat each individual patient, and decide which approach works for them,” Dr. Bonnecaze said.

Both surgical and nonsurgical patients work with the Center’s multidisciplinary team, which includes a program manager, program specialist, licensed clinical social worker, registered nurse, trained patient navigators and registered dietitians.

“The team approach and comprehensive care we provide sets us apart from other weight-loss programs,” Dr. Grantham said. “We focus on whole person health and thoroughly treat every aspect of our patients’ needs.”

Drs. Grantham and Washington use a dual surgeon approach and have performed nearly 1,500 bariatric surgeries together. Surgical procedures available at the Center include Roux-en-Y gastric bypass and sleeve gastrectomy. Both surgeries can be performed laparoscopically and robotically.

Additional benefits of the surgical program include:

Comprehensive, preoperative education and hands-on nutrition classes;

Monthly support groups led by behavioral coach;

Access to a dedicated nurse line with daily postoperative phone call follow-ups;

Access to behavioral staff to support adaptive outcomes;

Lifetime follow-up care by multidisciplinary team.

All patients also have access to store products, including protein and vitamin supplements, as well as nutrition and food preparation classes led by registered dietitians in the Center’s full-service kitchen.

As obesity rates continue to rise, access to medical weight-loss programs that provide successful long-term outcomes is increasingly important. At least 2.8 million people die each year as a result of living with obesity and its related conditions, according to the World Health Organization.

“Creating a comprehensive center is something we’ve been working toward for a long time,” said program manager Christi Embler, R.N., BSN, CBN. “We’ve always had the vision to serve the community at a greater level and are happy to have those capabilities now.”

For more information about the Metabolic & Weight Management Center, call (910) 725-7966 or visit Pinehurst Surgical Clinic and Pinehurst Medical Clinic providers are under contract with FirstHealth Metabolic & Weight Management Center.

Feature photo: Team celebrates the grand opening of The Metabolic & Weight Management Center in Southern Pines. Photo provided.


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