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GMC ramps up efforts at surgical weight loss center

Special Photo Gwinnett Medical Center-Duluth recently renovated and expanded the patient services at its center for surgical weight management. Chef Dave Fouts helps teach classes to post-operative patients in the center's new and improved demonstration kitchen.

Special Photo Gwinnett Medical Center-Duluth recently renovated and expanded the patient services at its center for surgical weight management. Chef Dave Fouts helps teach classes to post-operative patients in the center's new and improved demonstration kitchen.

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Special Photo Gwinnett Medical Center-Duluth recently renovated and expanded the patient services at its center for surgical weight management. Chef Dave Fouts helps teach classes to post-operative patients in the center's new and improved demonstration kitchen.

DULUTH -- As famed weatherman Al Roker recently pointed out rather, um, vividly, bariatric surgery can mark the beginning of a weight loss battle, not the end.

Dave Fouts -- who calls himself "the world's first bariatric specialty chef" -- gets that. That's why the nationally renowned chef has teamed with the Gwinnett Medical Center-Duluth's center for surgical weight management to do more.

With a new and improved demonstration kitchen and tons of emotional support, GMC-Duluth has renewed its focus on caring for bariatric patients after the actual surgery.

"We're obviously so excited about these programs," said Deborah Proulx, manager of the hospital's center for surgical weight management. "Our program offers so many after-care services for our patients, most of which are free. We're committed to our patients' success."

Fouts is, too. A former bariatric patient himself, the Oklahoma-based chef teaches regular classes at the center's recently renovated demo kitchen. He teaches post-surgery patients (and their families) how to eat and cook appropriately and healthily.

With plenty of limitations -- both nutrition and quantity wise -- that can be the hardest part for patients.

"What we find is that if you give them something and they can actually understand and do it, then the weight loss is going to be better," Fouts said. "Gwinnett's patients will probably do a little bit better. Everybody knows how to eat, but not everybody knows how to cook."

Fouts teaches his classes in a very nice, very patient-focused kitchen, complete with cameras and TV screens for improved instruction.

"It just came out absolutely beautiful," Fouts said. "The kitchen just screams fresh and vibrant."

The center also offers a full range of post-op classes, including those covering body image, dating after weight loss, emotional eating and two classes a month led by emotional health therapists.

In addition to other accommodations -- like wider doorways and larger furniture -- the center also has "the clothing closet" for use by its patients.

Proulx said the closet is for when folks start losing weight: they bring in too-large clothes and pick up smaller ones. The closet basically recycles clothes and enables patients to have properly fitting clothes throughout the gradual weight loss process, without having to buy brand new apparel each step of the way.

Like the rest of the center, it's all about being patient friendly.

"We keep these patients for life," Proulx said.