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Aaron Scheinblum, Communication Strategist
319-358-2627 or e-mail: aaron.scheinblum@mercyic.org

Tuesday, May 11, 2021 - Mercy Iowa City recognized with Blue Distinction® Center+ designation for quality, cost-effective bariatric surgery

Wellmark Blue Cross and Blue Shield has recognized Mercy Iowa City with a Blue Distinction® Center+ designation in the bariatric surgery area, as part of the Blue Distinction® Specialty Care program. The designation places Mercy Iowa City among the nationally designated facilities shown to deliver quality specialty care based on objective measures developed from the medical community for patient safety and better health outcomes.

Mercy Iowa City’s Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery Program has a multi-disciplinary team to help patients lose weight, maintain weight loss and regain health. The program is also accredited by the Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery Accreditation Quality Improvement Program, with a focus on providing a sensitive and comfortable environment to help ensure long-term success.

Mercy Iowa City leaders, including Rhys Kavanagh, MD, FRCSC, Mercy Iowa City Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery Medical Director, said they are proud to receive this recognition from Wellmark for meeting the robust selection criteria for bariatric surgery set by the Blue Distinction Centers for Specialty Care program.

"While bariatric surgery is by far the best treatment for obesity related medical conditions, the decision to undergo bariatric surgery is still a big one," Kavanagh said. "This recognition showcases our focus at Mercy Iowa City is on each patient's individualized needs to ensure they experience the best possible outcome and that their safety is our top priority."

Bariatric surgeries are among the most common elective surgeries in the U.S. According to the American Society of Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery, in 2018 there were 252,000 bariatric surgeries performed. Additionally, in 2018, the prevalence of obesity was over 40 percent, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The Journal of Health Economics states the estimated annual health care costs of obesity-related illnesses are $190.2 billion, or nearly 21 percent of annual medical spending in the U.S.

To receive a Blue Distinction Center+ for Bariatric Surgery designation, a health care facility must demonstrate success in meeting patient safety as well as bariatric-specific quality measures, including complications and readmissions, for gastric stapling and/or gastric banding procedures. A health care facility must also have earned national accreditations at both the facility level and the bariatric care-specific level, as well as demonstrate better cost efficiency relative to its peers.

For more information about the program, visit www.bcbs.com/bluedistinction.

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About Mercy Iowa City

Mercy Iowa City is an acute care hospital and regional referral center for southeast Iowa. Mercy has received: the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid (CMS) 5 Star Rating as a Top 2% of all hospitals for the 5th consecutive year, the only hospital in Iowa to do so; the Fortune IBM/Watson Health 100 Top Hospital ranking; the accredited Chest Pain Center with the American Heart Association Gold Plus Achievement Award for Stroke Care; the Top 100 Community Hospitals Award in 2018 and 2019 from Becker’s Review; the Press Ganey Guardian of Excellence Award for Mercy’s Emergency Care Unit by achieving 95 percent for patient experience for 13 consecutive years; and the Center of Distinction Award from Healogics for Mercy’s Wound and Vein Center. Mercy has 234 acute care beds, 25 private rooms for outpatient surgery, a 26-bed nursery with Level II Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, 28 primary and specialty care clinics, a medical staff of 250 physicians representing all major medical specialties and most subspecialties, and 1,350 employees. It was founded by the Sisters of Mercy in 1873 and became an affiliate of MercyOne in 2017. To learn more visit www.mercyiowacity.org. 

About Wellmark Blue Cross and Blue Shield

Wellmark, Inc. (Wellmark.com) does business as Wellmark Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Iowa. Wellmark and its subsidiaries and affiliated companies, including Wellmark Blue Cross and Blue Shield of South Dakota, Wellmark Health Plan of Iowa, Inc. and Wellmark Value Health Plan, Inc., insure or pay health benefit claims for more than 2 million members in Iowa and South Dakota. Wellmark Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Iowa, Wellmark Blue Cross and Blue Shield of South Dakota, Wellmark Health Plan of Iowa, Inc. and Wellmark Value Health Plan, Inc. are independent licensees of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association.

About Blue Cross Blue Shield Association

The Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association is a national federation of 36 independent, community-based and locally operated Blue Cross and Blue Shield companies that collectively provide health care coverage for one in three Americans. BCBSA provides health care insights through The Health of America Report series and the national BCBS Health Indexsm. For more information on BCBSA and its member companies, please visit BCBS.com. We also encourage you to connect with us on Facebook, check out our videos on YouTube and follow us on Twitter.

About Blue Distinction Centers

Blue Distinction Centers (BDC) met overall quality measures, developed with input from the medical community. A Local Blue Plan may require additional criteria for providers located in its own service area; for details, contact your Local Blue Plan. Blue Distinction Centers+ (BDC+) also met cost measures that address consumers’ need for affordable healthcare. Each provider’s cost of care is evaluated using data from its Local Blue Plan. Providers in CA, ID, NY, PA, and WA may lie in two Local Blue Plans’ areas, resulting in two evaluations for cost of care; and their own Local Blue Plans decide whether one or both cost of care evaluation(s) must meet BDC+ national criteria. National criteria for BDC and BDC+ are displayed on www.bcbs.com. Individual outcomes may vary. For details on a provider’s in-network status or your own policy’s coverage, contact your Local Blue Plan and ask your provider before making an appointment. Neither Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association nor any Blue Plans are responsible for non-covered charges or other losses or damages resulting from Blue Distinction or other provider finder information or care received from Blue Distinction or other providers.