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Highmark Blue Shield and the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association Name Area Hospitals as 2008 Blue Distinction Centers for Bariatric Care
Date:6/2/2008

CAMP HILL, Pa., June 2 /PRNewswire/ -- The Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association (BCBSA) has designated seven area hospitals as Blue Distinction Centers (BDC) for Bariatric Care for 2008.

According to the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ), the total number of bariatric surgeries increased 400 percent from 1998 to 2004. Obesity is widely recognized as a contributor to serious health risks, so bariatric surgery is being considered as a means to help some individuals reduce extreme obesity.

These hospitals provide a full range of bariatric surgery care services, including inpatient care, post-operative care, outpatient follow-up and patient education.

"Blue Distinction puts a high value on research and evidence-based health and medical information," says Carey Vinson, MD, Vice President, Quality and Medical Performance Management at Highmark. "Blue Distinction Centers show our commitment to working with doctors and hospitals to identify leading institutions that meet clinically validated quality standards and deliver better overall outcomes in patient care."

The hospitals that have earned this designation are:

-- Geisinger Medical Center

-- Lehigh Valley Hospital

-- Milton S. Hershey Medical Center

-- Pinnacle Health at Community General Osteopathic Hospital

-- Reading Hospital and Medical Center

-- Sacred Heart Hospital

-- York Hospital

These hospitals have met numerous selection criteria thresholds necessary to be named as a Blue Distinction Center for Bariatric Surgery, including:

-- full-service inpatient hospital facility

-- full accreditation by The Joint Commission or Healthcare Facilities

Accreditation Program

-- performed bariatric surgery for the most recent 12-month period and met

a required volume of bariatric surgical cases

-- experience and credentialing of the bariatric surgical team

-- appropriate equipment and staffing

-- documented policies and procedures for patient care and follow-up care

-- a commitment to quality improvement as evidenced by ongoing quality

management and improvement programs

The full list of selection criteria are available to the public at http://www.BCBS.com .

Blue Distinction(R) is a designation awarded by Blue Cross and Blue Shield companies to medical facilities that have demonstrated expertise in delivering quality health care. The designation is based on rigorous, evidence-based selection criteria established in collaboration with leading clinicians, medical societies and professional organizations. Today, nearly 800 Blue Distinction Centers are available to members nationwide, providing quality care in the areas of transplants, bariatric surgery, cardiac care, and complex and rare cancers.

About Highmark Blue Shield

As one of the state's leading health insurers and with nearly 70 years of community involvement, Highmark Blue Shield helps members live longer, healthier lives by ensuring access to affordable, high quality health insurance and services. Highmark offers the widest range of products, access to all area hospitals and the most responsive customer service. Highmark exerts an enormous economic impact throughout Pennsylvania. A recent study states that Highmark's positive impact exceeded $2.5 billion. Employing more than 5,000 people in central Pennsylvania and the Lehigh Valley, Highmark provides the resources to give its members a greater hand in their health.

Highmark Blue Shield is an independent licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association, an association of independent Blue Cross and Blue Shield Plans. For more information about Highmark Blue Shield, visit http://www.highmark.com.


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SOURCE Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield
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