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IN safety net hospital ends bariatric surgery program

Indianapolis Star, June 10, 2011

Bariatric surgery will no longer be performed at Wishard Health Services in an attempt to free up space for the low-income patients whom the hospital serves. Patients on Wishard Advantage, the hospital's program for those who lack other insurance, are eligible for most procedures offered at Wishard. But the Wishard program did not cover weight-loss surgery. The hospital decided to discontinue bariatric surgery to make room for services that were covered under Wishard Advantage, said hospital spokeswoman Michelle O'Keefe. The hospital has been operating at 98% capacity. "With Wishard being a core safety net facility, this change will increase Wishard's capacity to care for patients who can't receive our core health services in other places," O'Keefe said. Closing the bariatric service, known as the Indiana University Surgical Weight Management Program at Wishard, could open up beds in the intensive care unit and the medical surgical floors for other patients, O'Keefe said.