Connecticut State Chapter

Incorporated May 2012

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Executive Officers

President: Saber Ghiassi, MD MPH FASMBS
Vice President: James Healy, MD MHS FACS
Immediate Past President: Pavlos Papasavas, FASMBS
Past Presidents: Neil Floch, MD; Aziz Benbrahim, MD FASMBS; Jonathan Aranow, MD
Secretary/Treasurer: Vanessa Malit, MD FACS FASMBS
Integrated Health Chair: Dawn Garcia, APRN
STAR (State Access to Care Representative): Danielle Friedman, MD FACS Integrated Health STAR (State Access to Care Representative): Gabrielle Berthiaume, DNP-C
Executive Director: Katy Dunay

Members at Large

Neil Floch, MD
Juan Holguin, MD
Grigoriy Klimovich, MD

Chapter Contact

Katy Andrews Dunay, CPPM

Chapter Meetings

  • Connecticut State Chapter Meeting
    January 18-19, 2024
    Register Here
  • Connecticut State Chapter Meeting
    January 26-27, 2023
  • Connecticut State Chapter Meeting
    January 23-24, 2020
  • Connecticut State Chapter Meeting
    January 24-25, 2019
  • Connecticut State Chapter Meeting
    January 25-26, 2018

Chapter Updates

  • Continuing advocacy and close attention to the potential of new legislation related to coverage of obesity in Connecticut – will continue to monitor and support any bills that would provide greater access to care for our patients with obesity in the state of Connecticut.

  • Discussion of collaboration with the CT chapter of the ACS

  • Discussion to start an educational series – quarterly event

  • Discussion of Walk from Obesity – 25th Anniversary – Date of event 9/24/22 – West Haven location

  • ObesityPAC Meeting on 6/7/22 following the annual chapter meeting

  • Our STAR representative, Dr. Tishler, recently provided updates to the membership of some expansion in coverage and changes in the requirements for bariatric workup process for some of the insurers who provide coverage in the state. We have seen changes to the requirements for bariatric workup preparation and policy change from Aetna and most recently (August 2020) Anthem BCBS and Medicaid. There is progress and we will continue to advocate for more.

  • In 2019 and into 2020 we worked together, across programs and as a group, to support and advocate for the passage of legislation to expand access to bariatric care and coverage in the State of Connecticut. We worked with legislators and patients and continued our efforts to educate and add bariatric coverage to the essential health benefit plan for the state. Unfortunately, our efforts fell short and all work at the capitol was put on hold due to the pandemic and the challenges our state faced. Elective surgery was put on hold from March-May and many systems started to allow for surgical cases to be scheduled beginning in June. Providers used telehealth technology to deliver care and support for our patients during these unprecedented times. We will continue to work to serve our patients and be prepared to care for them in person or virtually and will continue to advocate for changes and expansion in coverage of bariatric services at the state level.

  • 9/26/2020 – Walk from Obesity – Virtual – members of the chapter and patients participated in the live facebook event that the chapter organized and raised a significant amount of money to support the ASMBS foundation.

  • Continued Enrichment of Website – Production and Maintenance of the Chapter Website has allowed for: Additional outreach, provision of relevant information, and accessibility of tools to support our advocacy efforts; A robust site, this showcases the activities sponsored and supported by the chapter and shows the growth we have sustained; Support tools for our advocacy efforts are accessible and easily available, including links to resources, information about our meetings, the chapter and the members and their programs.

  • SB-317 – 2/14/2019 – Day of Advocacy – Public Hearings at the State Capitol – collaborative effort by physicians, patients, team members for bariatric programs throughout the state with Senator Eric Berthel to support and advocate for SB-317 which would add coverage of bariatric services to the essential health benefit for the state; leading up to the public hearings a smaller group of board members held weekly conference calls to coordinate advocacy efforts to support and work to get the word out for the hearing – this was an amazing effort, with many patients, staff members and advocates in attendance and supporting the initiative with letters.

  • 3/1/2019 – Doctor’s Day at the Capitol – members of the chapter carve time from their schedules to travel to the Capitol for Doctor’s Day, to take the opportunity to meet with our elected officials and express the need and explain the importance of SB-317 to the patients we serve, the people of the State of Connecticut.

  • Connecticut Walk From Obesity 2017 – September 9, 2017, at Hubbard Park in Meridan in collaboration with Bristol Hospital.

  • August 2017 – CT Bariatric Physicians and Program Coordinators List – we are working to have a complete and updated list for all programs throughout the state; we have been able to gather contact information for the coordinators for each program and will reach out to the programs and physicians to invite and encourage membership with chapter. With better communication and outreach we hope to have more participation and engagement. If you have not received correspondence and wish to be included or if someone in your program should be receiving information please send updates to our Executive Director Katy Dunay at

  • 2016-2017 State of CT – STAR update shows that all work in the state is on hold due to an impasse with the state; there will be no extra spending on healthcare due to the poor state of the economy and budgetary limitations.

  • Bristol Hospital Walk from Obesity October 2016 – all practices/members encouraged to participate with patient/staff/practice.
  • Connecticut is one of the few New England states that is a “no coverage” state in the Affordable Care Act – work to change: Political actions & Patients with no coverage speaking out.
  • Formalization of elections and membership.

Support Groups

Local programs per hospital – please contact your hospital for more information/reference websites for specific details. Each hospital provides preoperative and postoperative guidance for patients. Some private practices also host postoperative support groups and events. Many programs have added creative and new support groups, including Closed Facebook groups and virtual postoperative support groups to accommodate social distancing and safety in the context of the continued presence of COVID-19.

Advocacy Information