The Louisiana State Chapter of the ASMBS—Improving Access to Care

| March 1, 2021

by William S. Richardson, MD; Rachel L. Moore, MD, FACS, ABOM; and Phil Gachassin, MD, MHCM, FACS, FASMBS

Dr. Richardson is Section Head, Ochsner Clinic in New Orleans, Louisiana, Professor, University of Queensland, and President of the Louisiana State Chapter of the American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery (LAASMBS). Dr. Moore is with Moore Metabolics in New Orleans, Louisiana, and is a board member of the LAASMBS. Dr. Gachassin is with Ochsner Lafayette General Surgical Hospital in Lafayette, Louisiana, and is a board member of the LAASMBS.

Funding: No funding was provided.

Disclosures: The authors report no conflicts of interest relevant to the content of this article.

Bariatric Times. 2020;18(3):16.

Our chapter was founded in 2012 by Dr. Rachel Moore with an initial slate of Board members that included Drs. George Merriman, Drew Hargroder, James Parrish, Phil Gachassin, and Jim Barnes in response to the need to improve our statewide collaboration and access to care.

Some of the early treatments for morbid obesity were performed in Louisiana, such as jejunal-ileal bypass, by notable surgeons such as J. Patrick O’Leary. The tradition of open surgery went on to groups such as those run by Drs. Ruary O’Connell and Louis Martin, who had to transition from open to laparoscopic bariatric surgery and who had a scientific interest in how bariatric surgery worked—they also had early involvement in the American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery (ASMBS). As minimally invasive surgery improved bariatric outcomes and surgery became more popular, the advancement of sleeve gastrectomy as a standalone and the most common procedure was advanced in part by Drs. Andrew Hargroder and Drake Bellanger working in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

COVID-19 put a dent in our state chapter plans for 2020, but as many of us have done, we had our annual meeting on Zoom in the fall. Since then, we have been working hard on improving access to care. Since 2003, we have had several attempts to push through laws to increase coverage of bariatric surgery. The last one was tabled by the state Senate due to having to spend time working on the response to COVID-19. Louisiana is one of the states with the worst obesity problems and yet the worst access to bariatric surgery. Since obesity increases the risk of poorer outcomes from COVID-19, we think that now is the time to try again. Through our state chapter, we will coordinate activity and think we can get the state health plan to cover bariatric surgery for 2022.

Over the next year, we are going to separate our chapter meetings into several Zoom meetings, including Access to Care and Allied Health meetings, and hopefully we will have an in-person meeting at the end of September 2021.

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Category: ASMBS State Chapter Spotlight, Past Articles

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