As a gastroenterologist with Parkview Physicians Group, Dr. Greg Scheible treats a wide variety of conditions. Many of his patients, however, share a common malady, a disease that negatively impacts everything else they’re battling. Dr. Scheible found the data shocking when he ran the numbers and, the more he studied the disease, the more compelled he became to do something about it. The disease, which currently affects one in three adults in the United States, is obesity; Dr. Scheible prefers to describe it more accurately as unhealthy weight.
Defined as a body mass index of 30 or more, obesity was first recognized as a pathophysiologic disease by the American Medical Association in 2013. Its effects are staggering. Not only does excess weight contribute to a wide range of significant health problems, such as hypertension, diabetes, heart disease and certain types of cancer, but these comorbidities also affect absenteeism in the workplace. Together, the costs of medical care and lost productivity have topped $270 billion per year—and that number is growing.
That’s exactly why Dr. Scheible has devoted a portion of his practice to helping his patients deal with excess weight. In fact, with the backing of Parkview Physicians Group, he is spearheading a new weight management program that he hopes will become a regional standout. It will be called the Parkview Weight Management Center.
“I’ve really become passionate about this,” explains Dr. Scheible. “There’s not another disease I can think of that affects so many comorbidities and the disease itself is outgrowing the number of physicians treating it.”
The Parkview Weight Management Center, which is still in the planning stage, will focus on two components that Dr. Scheible believes will significantly impact each participant’s long-term success. The first is a specific plan for each person which takes into account his or her health, lifestyle and individual challenges.
“It’s important that we keep this individualized,” says Dr. Scheible. “There’s a big misconception that losing weight is just about input and output, but there are so many factors that can work against an individual. We want to help each person understand and face those factors for the greatest chance of success.”
To do that, Dr. Scheible is designing the program around a team approach, which is the second key component. He has been working on assembling a committed group of experts who will be jointly responsible for each individual’s care while in the program: a dietician, an exercise therapist, a psychologist and a physician (Dr. Scheible himself). Where other programs often refer patients to such experts, the Parkview program will have them on staff and will meet regularly with each other as well as with program participants.
“The people on the team are just as positive and as passionate as I am,” says Dr. Scheible. “This team is so full of positive energy that patients will want to come see us.”
One of the biggest predictors of success, according to Dr. Scheible, is having face-to-face conversations with each person. The personal contact promotes individual involvement and accountability. It also provides a platform to address questions and bolster knowledge so that the patient becomes a more deliberate participant in his or her own well-being.
Dr. Scheible explains, “It’s helping a person understand how it all works together. It won’t work if an individual doesn’t have a high level of commitment.”
Patients will come to the program by physician referral and the initial focus will be on individuals who most need the help. Even with the program’s built-in support mechanisms, however, Dr. Scheible knows how easily people can become discouraged. That’s why it’s important to set and reinforce realistic expectations.
“One of my biggest jobs,” says Dr. Scheible, “is to get people to focus on the importance of small steps. It doesn’t take much to affect the process.”
In fact, a person can begin to realize significant health benefits with a weight reduction of as little as five to 10 percent. “It takes very little to start reversing the comorbidities,” he notes.
Some people, however, need a little more help than diet and exercise. One of the program’s innovative options includes the ORBERA™ gastric balloon, a saline-filled device that is temporarily placed in the stomach to encourage portion control. The gastric balloon (which was just approved in 2015 for use in the U.S.) has been used in more than 80 countries around the world for nearly 20 years. Its lengthy, proven track record made it appealing to Dr. Scheible, who is on track to be the first physician in Indiana to place an ORBERA™ device.
He explains, “The balloon fills the gap between individuals who haven’t been successful with diet, exercise and medication and those who don’t qualify for bariatric surgery.”
Once an individual has been prescreened and approved, the balloon is placed in the stomach and filled with sterile saline by means of an outpatient endoscopic procedure, which usually takes around 30 minutes. Over the next 12 months, the individual receives the same diet and exercise coaching as other program participants to encourage the development of healthy habits. This is especially important to long-term success because at around the six-month mark, the balloon is removed.
Dr. Scheible notes, “The balloon is just a kick start to weight loss. Regardless of a person’s individualized plan, everyone will get the same support.”
Dr. Scheible hopes to have his team in place and all the elements of the program refined so that the Parkview Weight Management Center can open by mid-year. It means a lot of extra work for him—he plans to maintain his gastroenterology practice at the same time—but Dr. Scheible says he’s willing to do whatever it takes to make it happen.
“I can’t remember when I’ve been this excited about something,” says Dr. Scheible. “I love what I do and I’ll devote as much time as needed to make it successful. I want to do this right and I want it to be good.”
Address: 1234 Dupont Road, Ste. 1 Fort Wayne, Indiana 46825
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