“My job is to build this program and make sure that the standards are the highest possible,” says Dr. Anthony DiBenedetto, the new medical director of Rochester General Hospital’s bariatric surgery program.
The weight loss surgery program at RGH has been in jeopardy since Spring 2007 when the husband-wife team who began the program left. Dr. Flavia Gusmano and Dr. Daniel Galvin left the hospital on good terms according to RGH administration, however, the hospital would not comment further as to why the couple chose to leave Rochester. Since their departure, the program lost more than half of its enrolled patients. Many who were about to undergo surgery at the time of the team’s departure were transferred to Unity Hospital for their surgeries.
Dr. DiBenedetto joined Rochester General on September 10th and has since attracted more than 100 new patients to the weight loss surgery program. DiBenedetto tells News 8 Now, approximately 30 patients from the previous bariatric program at RGH stayed and are now awaiting surgery. Dr. DiBenedetto has recruited 50-75 patients and there are an additional 47 patients entering Rochester General’s program from the Buffalo region.
“I'm basically basing this program on the program I had in Lockport which I feel was a very successful program,” says Dr. DiBenedetto who comes to Rochester General Hospital from Lockport Community Hospital, “I want to continue to take patients from those regions as well as reach out to the eastern part of the state and south of Rochester.”
“I had gained weight, lost weight and you always gain it back and you get to a point in your life where you say enough is enough, I've to do something more drastic,” says Jack Smith of Newfane, New York who underwent successful weight loss surgery with Dr. DiBenedetto in Lockport, “on the day of the operation I weighed 365 and right now, I weight 235.”
Now jack’s wife, Jane, is also having the surgery and she's traveling to Rochester to do it.
“They say it can really help the diabetes and I asked Dr. DiBennedeto if I would be a candidate for it and he said definitely,” says Jane, “there are other doctors who do that in our area, like in Buffalo and Niagara Falls but I have no interest in going to them.”
The loyalty showed by Jack and Jane Smith is something Dr. DiBenedetto says he is counting on in his recruitment efforts to the program.
“They'll travel a great distance if they're confident in the program.”
Rochester General does handle some overflow patients from highland hospital's program. RGH is averaging two to three bariatric surgeries a week. Dr. DiBenedetto says once the surgery program starts to have a backlog of patients, he will hire another bariatric surgeon.