Wednesday, December 07, 2011

Below is the email I am sending out to Bellingham PeaceHealth St Joseph Medical Center Physicians and Allied Health Practitioners today...

Dear Colleagues,

It has been an honor to work with you all these last 2 ½ years. Though I have consulted on over 200 patients for obesity and metabolic issues, we have only been able to take 12 to surgery here locally, because of a variety of factors beyond my control. My practice closes this Friday. Dr. Bachman has agreed to take over my charts for clerical continuity, with the understanding that specialty Bariatric care is appropriately referred to regional providers. I include a partial list below, and encourage you to use these providers for your own liability protection when patients are complex.

I have been asked to start a Bariatric Surgical program at Billings Clinic in Montana, to complement their World-Class Endocrinology service. I will still get to do Trauma and General surgery as well, so will be fully engaged and supported in a tertiary center.

My only regret is knowing that many will continue to suffer and die needlessly without treatment here in Bellingham. Many just do not have the resources to travel. Most patients now do have excellent coverage – it simply is a matter of finding the location that accepts it.

I hope to keep making my blog a valuable place to send patients to explore links and resources
And my Twitter is @bonuslife

Again, many thanks for being so supportive. Please continue to speak up for this group that is so stigmatized and unfairly marginalized by society and industry. Your compassion alone makes a difference, your timely referral saves lives!

To quote Goethe – “Knowing is not enough, we must apply. Willing is not enough, we must do”
Or to paraphrase - Actions speak louder than words!!!
Sincerely, gratefully,
Walt Medlin


University of Washington – has 4 world class surgeons who I know well. They are the best of the best.
800-326-5300 for Medicon, or 206-598-2274 for the clinic.
( based in Edmonds, with office also in Barkley area.
Drs Landerholm, Billing, and Crouthamel are excellent, though a bit controversial with same-day surgery for sleeve gastrectomy.
I do not believe they take Medicare, but do have preferred provider status with PeaceHealth. 800-558-6514 our local Medical program with Dr Tony Burden (at Lakeway entrance to I-5 N) 676-1696
Dr David Lauter comes up from Bellevue, and does take Medicare with his Center of Excellence at Overlake in Everett has until recently been only Lap-Band (which is falling out of favor). Drs Michaelson, Chock, and Montgomery are now adding full spectrum care, including Sleeve Gastrectomy and Gastric Bypass. They are a great clinic, and nearest actual OR facility. 800-350-2263 Group Health covers many of our Whatcom County neighbors, and does a great job, though the out-of-pocket expense is >$1,400

Swedish, Virginia Mason, Evergreen and Northwest Hospitals all have excellent programs as well, with Center of Excellence certification.

Madigan Army Medical Center is actually a national leader. I highly recommend them for your patients with Veteran’s benefits (and spouses)

Dietitian Support - Rachel Akins RD at South Campus has extensive experience with the Group Health Program. is a Seattle based telephone Dietitian counseling service that I have used with great results. They are very cost effective, though not usually covered by insurance (4 sessions are less than $300 though!)

Psychological Support – Marlene Sexton LMFT has been our local professional, and runs a highly regarded support group as well.

Free support group (which all post op patients should attend at least a few times each year) is 7PM the first Wednesday each month at the HEC.