Mayo’s Bariatrics division affords new methods to reduce weight

MANKATO, Minnesota (KEYC) — The Mayo Clinic Health System Bariatric Division, now located at Madison East Health Center, continues to push the boundaries of invasive and non-invasive weight loss options in Mankato.

“There’s a lot of guilt that people have about their weight. We’re really passionate about helping not only our patients, but their families and friends to understand that surgery, medication and all the other things we have are tools to solve this problem,” she said medical director and bariatric surgeon Megan Gilmore.

According to the 2019 Community Health Needs Assessment, 35% of adults in Blue Earth County were obese.

Health experts predict obesity rates will increase due to inactivity and dietary changes during the pandemic.

“I’m really trying to take the stigma out of it and talking to patients about a disease, we’re treating a disease, here – really trying to make them comfortable and that we’re here to help them and to be there for them in the long term for that support,” said Heidi Bednarchuk, clinical nurse specialist and advanced practitioner.

Mankato’s Bariatric Department has performed 500 surgeries in over 10 years of service.

In addition to celebrating its surgical milestone, the department will add a new surgeon.

“When I meet my patients, I ask them about their goals. And a lot of them are really about taking control of their health — not so much just their weight,” said new bariatric surgeon Ashwini Poola.

The bariatric department moved to its new location in November to expand its services to the region.

“Our examination rooms are also a no-shame, no-blame zone. If they feel like they’re in trouble, we want to see them,” Bednarchuk said.

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