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ThedaCare Regional Medical Center Neenah
July 27, 2023

ThedaCare Recognized for High-Quality Bariatric Care

Program Awarded Bariatric Center of Excellence and Named a Blue Distinction® Center for Bariatric Surgery

The ThedaCare Regional Medical Center-Neenah Bariatric Program, in partnership with Surgical Associates of Neenah, are being recognized for their high-quality care on two fronts. Optum® has recertified ThedaCare as a Bariatric Center of Excellence (COE) and the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association has named ThedaCare a Blue Distinction® Center for Bariatric Surgery.

“These honors speak to our multidisciplinary team’s commitment to delivering specialized bariatric care and providing the necessary support to patients and their families before and after surgery,” says Kevin Wasco, M.D., co-medical director of ThedaCare Bariatric Surgery Program. “These designations help patients identify centers that provide safer and more effective weight loss surgery treatment. The most effective program combines nutrition, diet and exercise with education and counseling.”

Dr. Wasco is one of three dedicated surgeons with the program. Weight loss specialists Hassanain Jassim, M.D., and Raymond Georgen, M.D. also met the requirements for the awards in both expertise and cost efficiency. Drs. Jassim and Georgen also are part of Surgical Associates of Neenah.

ThedaCare’s Bariatric Program has received both honors since 2010.

Obesity is an increasing health crisis in the United States and Wisconsin. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), obesity rates have been steadily increasing across the nation. The most recent statistics (September 2021) show the national adult obesity rate in the United States at more than 42%, impacting more than 93 million Americans. In Wisconsin, almost one-third (32.5%) of adults – about 1.8 million people – are considered obese and nearly 15 percent (14.9%) of youth aged 10 to 17 in the state are classified as obese.

The implications of obesity are far-reaching, as it increases the risk of various chronic health conditions, such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes, certain cancers, and sleep apnea.  

It also puts a significant strain on the health care system and overall public health infrastructure. Additionally, its economic impact is substantial, accounting for more than $170 billion in health care costs and lost productivity each year. Bariatric surgery is one solution to this growing health concern.

Bariatric Center of Excellence

The Optum® Bariatric Centers of Excellence recertification nationally notes ThedaCare’s weight-loss procedures as being cost-effective and quality proven.

“As a nationally recognized Bariatric Center of Excellence, ThedaCare has demonstrated delivering safe and high-quality weight loss surgery care,” Dr. Wasco said. “It has resulted in better health outcomes and more cost-effective care based on objective measures developed by leading accreditations and quality organizations.” 

Several universal health coverages (UHC) only will authorize bariatric surgery with a bariatric COE center and surgeons.

Bariatric Blue Distinction Center

The Blue Cross Blue Shield (BCBS) Association’s Blue Distinction® Center for Bariatric Surgery is another designation ThedaCare has received recently. According to the BCBS Association, “Blue Distinction Centers (BDC) met overall quality measures for patient safety and outcomes, developed with input from the medical community.”

ThedaCare is among 10 other centers in Wisconsin recognized.

“Again, it’s our ability to deliver an innovative and a patient-centered approach to bariatric surgery quality as well as safe specialty care that results in excellent patient outcomes,” explained Dr. Wasco. “We hope this reassures people they are choosing the right provider with ThedaCare on their weight loss journey.”

The Bariatric Comprehensive Center Advantage

Bariatric surgeries are among the most common elective surgeries in the U.S. with hundreds of thousands performed each year, according to the American Society of Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery (ASMBS).

ThedaCare offers the most experienced surgical approach to weight loss in Northeast and Central Wisconsin, advancing since its start with these procedures in the 1960s. 

In 2001, ThedaCare partnered with Surgical Associates of Neenah, pioneering a holistic approach to the weight loss surgery experience. The multidisciplinary team is made up of physicians and nurses as well as nutrition, exercise, and behavioral health experts, and administrators to prepare and accompany people through surgery.

Since 2006, ThedaCare has been recognized as an accredited bariatric surgery center by the American College of Surgeon’s Metabolic & Bariatric Surgery Accreditation Quality Improvement Program (MBSAQIP). Since 2020, ThedaCare has been leading the way in robotic weight loss surgery. All weight loss surgery procedures are performed robotically rather than laparoscopically, which can lead to better outcomes for the patient.

Experts explain that bariatric surgery is the most effective treatment for severely obese patients because it enables substantial and sustained weight loss, which could resolve obesity-related conditions such as type 2 diabetes. Based on findings by ASMBS, eliminating co-morbidities through bariatric surgery has reduced healthcare costs by an average 29% within five years of the procedure.

Some of the services provided by ThedaCare during the surgical weight loss journey include:

  • Minimally invasive approach to bariatric procedures
  • Nutritional education and guidance
  • Professional exercise training
  • Emotional support and counseling
  • Help with insurance considerations

To learn more, visit Weight Loss Solutions | ThedaCare, or call 920.720.7211, option #1.

About ThedaCare

For more than 110 years, ThedaCare® has been committed to improving the health and well-being of the communities it serves in Northeast and Central Wisconsin. The organization delivers care to more than 600,000 residents in 17 counties and employs approximately 7,000 health care professionals. ThedaCare has 180 points of care, including eight hospitals. As an organization committed to being a leader in Population Health, team members are dedicated to empowering people to live their unique, best lives. ThedaCare also partners with communities to understand needs, finding solutions together, and encouraging health awareness and action. ThedaCare is the first in Wisconsin to be a Mayo Clinic Care Network Member, giving specialists the ability to consult with Mayo Clinic experts about a patient’s care. ThedaCare is proud to partner with Children’s Wisconsin and Froedtert & the Medical College of Wisconsin health network to enhance convenient access to the most advanced levels of specialty care. ThedaCare is a not-for-profit health system with a level II trauma center, comprehensive cancer treatment, stroke and cardiac programs, as well as primary care.

For more information, visit or follow ThedaCare on social media. Members of the media should call Cassandra Wallace, Public and Media Relations Consultant at 920.442.0328 or the ThedaCare Regional Medical Center-Neenah switchboard at 920.729.3100 and ask for the marketing person on call.