Baptist Center for Bariatric and Reflux Surgery marks 3,000th procedure

Jacksonville, FL

Gasping for air while going for a walk is a thing of the past for Skip Dierking. Instead, the 70-year-old is feeling spry and fit after undergoing a gastric bypass procedure at the Baptist Center for Bariatric and Reflux Surgery.

Dierking is the 3000th patient to have bariatric surgery at Baptist Health since the program started in 2008.

The first step toward better health for Dierking was searching for a solution other than medication for his gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), a problem that had plagued him for more than 20 years.

His search led him to the Baptist Center for Bariatric and Reflux Surgery website, where he completed an online questionnaire. Soon after that, they contacted him to schedule an appointment.

"I went to my appointment and the doctor noticed I was in the morbidly obese category. He recommended gastric bypass surgery because the procedure would not only help my acid reflux, but also help me lose weight," said Dierking. "At first, I was kind of reluctant because of my age, but I talked it over with my family and we decided I should do it -- and I'm so glad I did."

Gastric bypass surgery is a procedure that reduces caloric intake by making the stomach smaller and decreases the number of calories that are absorbed by bypassing a segment of the intestines. The procedure is often recommended for obese patients with severe GERD.

Bariatric surgery includes a variety of procedures for people struggling with morbid obesity. At Baptist Health, the multidisciplinary team of dieticians, psychologists and bariatric surgical specialists at Baptist work closely with patients like Dierking before and after surgery to ensure a successful outcome.

Craig Morgenthal, MD, and Steven Hodgett, MD, with North Florida Surgeons, are dedicated to providing weight loss surgery at Baptist Health. Both are board-certified, fellowship-trained surgeons.

"After my surgery, I spent one night in the hospital and was home by noon the next day," said Dierking. "So far, I have lost 52 pounds since having the surgery just nine weeks ago. As I'm losing weight, I'm gaining energy. I can actually get out and do more. I feel like I'm in my 50s again."

Since the surgery, Dierking no longer has issues with acid reflux and has been able to reduce his blood pressure medication. He is also enjoying being more active with his family.

"I used to take my granddaughter for a walk around the block and I'd have to stop three or four times to catch my breath and sit down for a moment. Now she takes off on her bike and I'll jog along behind her and not get winded," Dierking said. "The surgery has been life-changing for me."

For more information about Baptist Center for Bariatric and Reflux Surgery, go to

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