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The Regional Medical Center recently announced the discontinuation of its surgical weight loss program.

The mutual decision between RMC and surgical weight loss Medical Director Dr. Dion Franga was based on projected surgical volumes and the increasing difficulty many patients face in getting insurance to pay for weight-loss surgery, also known as bariatric surgery, the hospital said in release.

The number of patients in the surgical weight loss program has decreased over time, with surgical volumes trending below the annual requirement for Center of Excellence in Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery accreditation.

RMC says accreditation is a virtual must-have to continue operating a sustainable program. That’s because several insurance carriers now require patients to have their weight-loss surgery performed at an accredited center in order to qualify for coverage.

“Sad to see it go. I’m only one surgeon and it requires a lot of efforts,” Franga said.

“It was a phenomenal program with excellent results. I think the cumulative weight loss of the program was over 10,000 pounds right here in Orangeburg,” he said.

“So we had very good results, very low complications. I think it was a great program.”

RMC says that despite lower volumes, the surgical weight loss program was successful in terms of quality and patient outcomes.

“It was the only American College of Surgeons certified program in the hospital and it took a lot of effort to get to that point. It requires more than just me to be part of that,” Franga said.

RMC will continue to assess the community’s need for weight-loss surgery moving forward. In the meantime, patients who are already in the surgical weight loss program will continue to be seen by Franga.

“Hopefully we’ll be able to continue that. We still do some bariatric surgeries,” Franga said.

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Staff Writer Martha Rose Brown contributed to this report.

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