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Kevin Helling, MD

Tammy Fouse, DO

Executive Council Liaison


Franklin Bendewald, MD
Guillermo Bolaños Avila, MD
Kelly Burke, MSN-Ed RN
Stephanie Cox, PhD ABPP
Bree Dewing, MD
Frank Felts, MD FASMBS
Rama Rao Ganga, MBBS
Luis Garcia, MD FACS MBA, Immediate Past Chair

Magdy Giurgius, MD
Brandon Helbling, MD FASMBS
Linden Karas, MD
Howard McCollister, MD
Curtis Peery, MD FASMBS
John Pender, MD
Walter Pories, MD

Raza Shariff, MD
Jessica Smith, MD
Andrew Wheeler, MD FASMBS
Andrew Van Osdol, MD
Ellen Vogels, DO
Kashif Zuberi, MD

ASMBS Staff Liaison

Leslie Vinson


To represent the rural bariatric surgical practices, foster and promote best care practices, identify challenges unique to the rural setting, and facilitate potential solutions.


The committee is composed of surgeons and integrated health professionals who provide care to bariatric patients in a rural or isolated setting. Members of the committee will advise the Executive Council on trends of practice and issues unique to rural bariatric surgeons. This will facilitate a proactive approach to resolving programmatic and clinic issues pertaining to the rural surgery setting. The committee serves as a resource for rural surgical practices to achieve high quality comprehensive programs in a rural setting.


  • To identify rural bariatric surgical practices
  • To represent the interests of metabolic and bariatric surgery in a rural setting
  • To identify the challenges unique to rural practitioners in the field of metabolic and bariatric surgery
  • To provide a template of collaboration to improve the care of the bariatric patient in the rural setting
  • To provide practice- or evidence-based solutions to these challenges
  • To define best practice guidelines and best standards of care in rural environments
  • To offer advice and support in recruitment, retention, mentoring, and post-residency/fellowship education to assure quality surgical care for rural bariatric patients
  • To address financial and business challenges of rural practitioners
  • To advocate for and support the accreditation of bariatric centers in rural America
  • To develop and maintain resources for existing rural accredited centers that provide care for bariatric patients
  • To improve access to care for the Bariatric patient in rural settings

Committee Goals


1) Continue to grow committee membership
2) Define inclusion criteria, what constitutes a rural bariatric surgery practice (using ACS model)
3) Determine barriers for MBSAQIP accreditation


1) 1) Develop a Rural Collaborative, i.e., network of rural programs
2) Mentorship program for new rural program (Tool Kit, site visits)
3) Mentorship for quality improvement (proctoring opportunities, advice hotline)
4) Follow-up tool kit for non-surgeons in rural setting (IH task force already working on this)


1) Help develop rural practice accreditation standards (if it is determined that they need to be different than current standards)
2) Participation of all rural practices in MBSAQIP and ASMBS
3) Mentorship pathway for committee members into ASMBS leadership/EC
4) Tracking of outcomes data for Rural Centers

Specific Projects that Achieve Goals and Objectives

1) Five new members were added
2) Continued discussion of definition of inclusion criteria for potential members of the committee
3) Ongoing discussions to develop a “tool kit” for the use of Telemedicine for care of patients located in remote areas

1) Continue identification of potential Rural Programs across the nation to be included in the Rural Collaborative; will discuss at ObesityWeek 2019 meeting with an MBSAQIP representative
2) Continued participation of rural committee members in committees of broader reach; Dr. Helling is a member of the Access to Care Committee

1) Continued research of rural practices, ongoing committee meetings and discussions with members to determine rural practice/patient needs

2019 Completed Projects

1) Five new members added
2) Conducted the Rural Symposium at ASMBS Weekend 2019

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