News - transforming lives
Ruth Davis, R.N., speaks from personal experience when she touts the capabilities of Alexian Brothers Health System's bariatric surgery program.
Davis, ABHS Director of Weight Management Services, underwent gastric bypass surgery in May 2000, and the weightloss operation has transformed her life. Performed by Dr. Kane the surgery has enabled Davis to shed 150 pounds and to begin enjoying activities that once were unimaginable, such as bicycling, swimming, hiking and riding roller coasters. "One of the things I was looking for before my surgery was, in one word, freedom," Davis says."Freedom to live the life I always wanted and felt I deserved. At the time,my daughter was 7 years old, and I was on the sideline, not being able to participate in her life because of my weight. There is so much sadness that goes with that."
Today, her life has changed 180 degrees. Not only can she enjoy activities with her daughter, now 13, but she also is "finally able to wake up every morning and not think about my weight,"Davis says."It feels like a brand new beginning." Her successful weight-loss surgery left her with a strong desire "to give back because you just feel you've been given a tremendous gift to live your life again," says Davis,who previously worked for 15 years as a clinical coordinator in HIV/AIDS research at a Chicago-area hospital.When the opportunity to take her current job presented itself, she jumped at the chance. Davis serves as a liaison between ABHS and Suburban Surgical Care Specialists, the only group that performs bariatric surgery at ABHS. Davis provides support and education for bariatric surgery patients, ensures proper training for all hospital staff members that interact with these patients, and coordinates patient care and communications between Dr. Kane's group and ABHS hospitals.
Alexian Brothers Medical Center in Elk Grove Village, Ill., has a long-standing bariatric surgery program, which ABHN duplicated in 2003 at St.Alexius Medical Center in Hoffman Estates, Ill. Davis also helps to market the bariatric surgery program, an effort that gained momentum recently when Suburban Surgical Care Specialists and ABMC earned top bariatric surgery designations from two leading organizations in the health-care industry.The American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery, the world's largest society dedicated to the specialty, named ABMC as a "Bariatric Surgery Center of Excellence," in August 2005. St. Alexius Medical Center received the same designatin three years later when they were awarded the same title. To date, ABHS is the only health system in the Midwest to acheive this at more than one hospital in system.
The recognition comes after U.S. News & World Report ranked ABMC among the nation's best hospitals in digestive disorders earlier this year. The honors affirmed and spotlighted a fact that has been known in the health-care industry for years - that ABHS has one of the premier bariatric surgery programs in the nation."Just the legacy of the Kanes is incredible, and when outsiders review the outcomes and statistics related to our bariatric procedures, they speak for themselves,"Davis says. "It's because of the dedication of the surgical group and their commitment to their patients."
The senior Dr. Kane started his surgical practice in the late 1950s, and with his son, who later joined the practice, became known for pioneering achievements in bariatric surgery. In 1999, for example, the Kanes became the first surgeons in the Midwest to perform laparoscopic gastric bypass surgery. In 2001, they introduced adjustable gastric banding, another leading-edge weightloss operation performed laparoscopically. Patients who undergo laparoscopic gastric bypass surgery can expect to lose 70 percent to 80 percent of excess body weight permanently, and patients who undergo laparoscopic adjustable gastric banding can expect to lose about 60 percent of excess body weight permanently, says Dr. James Kane, Jr. Patients "go from being incapacitated, almost housebound, and depressed,with five major medical problems, to being someone who's engaged in society, living a more normal life, and off all their medications, with a majority of their medical problems significantly improved or gone," he says.
The cornerstone of Suburban Surgical Care Specialists' bariatric surgery practice is a multidisciplinary approach in which "surgeons are only one cog in the wheel," he says."There are many other departments involved in our bariatric medical and surgical program." Another key "is this surgical group's vision for following patients for their lifetime,"Davis says. "This group tells patients, ‘You are a lifetime patient of ours,' and that is a serious commitment, because patients' lives change in ways they can't even envision."