Hundreds wait for weight loss surgery in N.L.: Eastern Health
A provincial program that offers weight loss surgery to those who qualify receives, on average, 29 referrals per month, according to Eastern Health.
Bariatric surgery involves reducing the size of a person's stomach by partial removal or putting in a gastric band.
There are currently 60 patients on the wait list for the the provincial bariatric program established by Eastern Health in 2011.
Michael Fleet, who needs gastric bypass surgery in order to lose weight to fix an umbilical hernia, said he is waiting to go through the assessment process by a surgeon.
Fleet said he spoke to someone with the bariatric program who told him there aren't a lot of people on the wait list who have a serious condition like he does.
According to Fleet, there are 320 people ahead of him waiting for assessment in the program.
He's been petitioning Eastern Health and Health Minister Steve Kent to try and expedite his case and move up the wait list. Eastern Health told Fleet to ask his family doctor to advocate for him to be pushed up on the list.
343 surgeries performed to date
When contacted by CBC, Eastern Health said it does not discuss individual cases but did provide numbers of the people waiting for surgery.
Currently, there are 711 people waiting to see a bariatric surgeon for an assessment.
To date, 343 surgeries have been performed and the health authority has the capacity to complete 100 weight loss surgeries a year, according to Eastern Health.
"Eastern Health is exploring ways to empower patients, in conjunction with their family physicians, to self-manage their weight issues while awaiting surgery."