The Medical Weight Management Clinic began in 2019 as a centralized plan to provide comprehensive obesity treatment. The clinic currently has four physicians, two advanced practice practitioners, two dietitians, a nurse, and a patient navigator.
“People haven’t always thought of obesity as a disease, they may have thought it was a result of lifestyle choices, but we know now there are physiological drivers for eating behaviors and the energy regulation system in our body,” said Laura Davisson, MD, MPH, FACP. “Obesity medicine is targeting some of these factors and working with the patient and their environment.”
The clinic allows for collaboration between primary care physicians across the state and the team at WVU Medicine to improve outcomes for patients with obesity.
“We offer team-based care where all the providers approach treating obesity from different angles to address each patient’s specific needs,” Dr. Davisson said. “Within primary care, obesity is not always able to be addressed for variety of reasons, so by having this separate clinic we are able to take some of the burden off of those providers and give them a place to send patients who need treatment.”
The team recently had three articles accepted across various publications.
“Rural obesity medical education for primary care in West Virginia: A needs assessment” by Dr. Davisson; Melissa Hernandez-Pachon; and Treah S. Haggerty, M.D., was published in West Virginia Medical Journal.
Dr. Davisson, Hernandez-Pachon, and Dr. Haggerty also published “Primary care treatment of obesity in West Virginia: A needs assessment” in Obesity Medicine.
In the articles, authors recognized the prevalence of obesity in West Virginia and that many primary care providers feel ill-equipped to treat patients with the disease. A survey was distributed across 17 health systems to better understand the medical educational needs of primary care practices across the state.
Survey results found that most respondents agreed there was a need for strengthening medical training in obesity and were interested in learning more about strategies for discussing weight with patients.
“The findings of these articles indicate that with some additional tools and educational resources, primary care clinics and providers would be willing to take on the treatment of obesity which is amazing given all the existing responsibilities of primary care,” said Dr. Davisson. “We hope to use these results to help us focus our outreach to primary care in West Virginia.”
“Building a medical-surgical obesity center in an academic health system: Lessons learned” by Dr. Davisson, Dr. Haggerty, Lawrence Tabone, MD; Riley Imlay, and Emma Morton-Eggleston, MD, MPH, was published in Bariatric Surgical Practice and Patient Care.
The article further explored the process of creating the Medical Weight Management Clinic and the collaboration between WVU Medicine leadership and the WVU Medicine Medical and Surgical Weight-Loss Center.
“We now have comprehensive treatment for obesity no matter which path a patient wants to take and we’re really proud of that,” said Dr. Davisson. “This clinic is addressing the needs of the state and we’re excited to see it move forward.”
The clinic also trains students across WVU Health Sciences as part of its mission to create a workforce of medical providers that can adequately treat patients with obesity in West Virginia. In the future, the team hopes to continue growing the clinic and creating positive outcomes for patients with obesity across the state.
For more information on the Department of Medicine, visit medicine.hsc.wvu.edu/medicine.