Memorial Health System - Great Health Starts Here

Rosemary Tuetke

Respect for the Individual


Bariatric Services Program Puts Patient’s Life Back on Track

When her sister died of leukemia in 2004, Rosemary Tuetken knew it was a wake-up call for her to pay attention to her own health.

"That made me stop and look at myself and say ‘You have to do something or you’re not going to be around,’" the Hillsboro native said. She was only 5 feet tall but weighed 216 pounds, was diabetic and had high cholesterol. Diabetes and heart disease ran in her family.

She began reading about bariatric surgery and asked her family physician about it. He agreed she was a good candidate. A woman from a neighboring community who had bariatric surgery spoke highly of Max Hammer, MD, and the team with Memorial Bariatric Services. The following year, Rosemary had gastric bypass surgery.

Today, she weighs 123 pounds, having lost 100 percent of her excess body weight. Her diabetes is gone. And almost a year after her surgery, on April 26, 2006, Rosemary ran the first of four half-marathons, a 13.1-mile run in Nashville, Tenn.

"I couldn’t have done this four years ago," she said.

In addition to her annual half-marathon, Rosemary has taken part in other runs and two biathlons. She runs two or three days every week, either around town or on the treadmill. She works with a personal trainer in Hillsboro three days a week.

Rosemary is one of approximately 350 patients who have had bariatric surgery at Memorial Medical Center. They don’t all run half-marathons, but many of their lives have seen dramatic improvements. Most have lost at least 50 percent of their excess weight and kept it off for three or more years.

And consider these results: 97 percent have seen their Type 2 diabetes resolved or substantially improved, 85 percent with high blood pressure are back to normal or greatly improved, and 70 percent have seen their sleep apnea go away or considerably reduced.

Those are great results for patients who struggle with obesity, a chronic disease that affects one in four Americans. And up to 15 million are morbidly obese, which means their conditions have become so severe that they’re at great risk of other diseases, disability and premature death. But bariatric surgery can help.

"I am not aware of any single line of therapy in medicine today that will resolve as many issues as significant weight loss," said Dr. Hammer, medical director of Memorial Bariatric Services and a Springfield Clinic surgeon. "It’s been shown that people who resolve co-morbidities, such as hypertension and diabetes, see their life spans increase up to 15 years."

Memorial Bariatric Services provides comprehensive care to patients before and after their surgeries. Patients receive a thorough evaluation to make sure they’re ready for the lifestyle change that bariatric surgery offers, and work with a registered dietitian, physical therapist and social worker.

Dr. Hammer has played a key role in developing the program since the first procedure was performed in 2002. Orlando Icaza, MD, another Springfield Clinic surgeon who has worked with Dr. Hammer, joined the bariatric program last year.

After surgery, patients continue to receive care from staff and can attend support group meetings where they talk to other patients about their successes and challenges. That follow-up is important, Rosemary said. "If you think you’re going in the wrong direction, it just turns you around."

Now, she’s grateful to be headed in the right direction. "I have a lot to live for," she said, including a second grandchild expected to arrive in early 2010.

"If I hadn’t had this procedure, I cannot imagine where my life would be at now."

Read about bariatric surgery procedures at Memorial Medical Center by visiting the Memorial Bariatric Services website.



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