Dakota Yellowstone Chapter(ID, MT, ND, SD, WY)

Dakota Yellowstone State Chapter Logo

Chapter Information

Incorporated August 2012

Executive Officers

President: John R. Pender, MD FACS
Vice-President: Kevin D. Helling, MD
Secretary/Treasurer: Kristen Gordon, BSN RN
Immediate Past President: Luis Garcia, MD MBA Integrated Health Chair: Kristen Gordon, BSN RN
STAR (State Access to Care Representative) ID: Cory Richardson, MD FASMBS
STAR (State Access to Care Representative) MT: John R. Pender, MD FACS
STAR (State Access to Care Representative) ND: Ellen Vogels, DO
STAR (State Access to Care Representative) SD: Kristen J. Turek, CNP
STAR (State Access to Care Representative) WY: Kevin D. Helling, MD


John R. Pender, MD FACS
801 North 29th Street
Billings, MT 59107

Chapter Meetings

No chapter meetings are scheduled at this time.

Chapter Updates

  • Quarterly business phone meetings took place throughout 2014 and 2015 to update members about chapter activities; all chapter members were included in the invitation.
  • The last face-to-face Business Meeting took place during ObesityWeek in 2013; no meeting was organized during the 2014 conference due to low attendance from chapter members.
  • January 2014: Invitation letter sent to all members announcing chapter and encouraging involvement.
  • Conversations took place with ND/SD Chapter of ACS to join efforts and include our annual scientific meeting in the agenda of their meeting; it was decided to join with the Northern Plains Surgical Society, which is beneficial in regards to cost, geographical advantage (meeting takes place in Denver which makes it easier for members of Montana, Idaho, and Wyoming to attend), and dates of meeting (Presidents Day weekend) allow attendance without interfering with ASMBS national meetings.
  • Montana and Idaho have been identified as states with low insurance coverage. Through the Access to Care Committee’s “Leave No State Behind Initiative” support was obtained to send letters to the House and Senate of both states. The Process started in 2014 and efforts continue. Our physician leaders are Dr. Garay in Idaho and Dr. Pender in Montana. Letters were also sent by Dr. Garcia as President of the Chapter to reinforce the message; n response has been obtained so far.
  • Changes in coverage were identified in the Bariatric Surgery Policy for the state of Wyoming. Local face-to-face meeting took place with BCBS led by Dr. Fermelia and Becky Grant. They were able to modify the content of the policy in a positive way.
  • BCBS ND proposed a new policy Draft for Bariatric Surgery in January of 2015. Proposed changes in the policy affected coverage and access to care in a negative way. A state-wide effort took place and conversations with BCBS of ND allowed us to influence the change the original draft to something more realistic to achieve and based on stronger scientific data.
  • Local Scientific presentation “Surgical Management of Obesity” took place at the Sanford Obesity Symposium in April 2014; Presenter: Luis Garcia, MD.
  • National Scientific presentation “Dakota Yellowstone Chapter: Barriers to the Geographically Challenged” took place at the ASMBS Spring meeting in June 2015. Presenter: Luis Garcia, MD.
  • Efforts will continue to extend membership and participation in the Chapter; geographical extent of the chapter and low surgeon census in the area are significant barriers.
  • Efforts will continue to improve access to care in the states of Idaho and Montana.
  • Ongoing efforts throughout 2014 to get chapter’s website up and running.

Advocacy Information