New Facilitator Joins HGH Bariatric Support Group

Humboldt General Hospital's Bariatric Support Group has a new facilitator.

Rebecca Clifford will now lead the support group designed to help both pre-op and post-op bariatric patients.

Clifford has worked in the medical field for more than 14 years, most recently as the medical assistant in the office of Sandra Deveny, APN-C. But her most important qualification to lead the group is that she, too, has had bariatric surgery.

"I had Gastric Bypass surgery in August of 2011," said Clifford. "I have lost close to 200 pounds since then."

However, like many people in the group she now facilitates, Clifford said she has learned that "any type of weight loss surgery is not a magic wand."

For one, she is finding the last 50 pounds to be a real struggle. She also acknowledges that she likely was not as prepared as she could have been for the surgery.

"I consider myself lucky," she said. "I am one of the few patients that didn't have other medical issues like high blood pressure, diabetes, or sleep apnea. I had no complications with surgery. Of course I had my bumps n the road, but overall, I consider it a success. I am finally happy being me."

Clifford is hopeful she can share her journey with others as she facilitates the Bariatric Support Group. She invites others to do the same, whether they are pre- or post-surgery.

"I would like everyone who attends the group to feel like this is a place where no question is too absurd," said Clifford. "I want prospective patients to have insight from those of us who have been there already, and for those of us who have made the journey already and are struggling, to be able to have the resources and support to get through the rough spots."

Clifford moved to Winnemucca a year ago from Colorado with her husband, three children and two "goofy" dogs. She said she didn't immediately become involved with the group, even though she was post-surgery.

However, with encouragement from Sandra Deveny along with a good dose of courage she began attending.

Humboldt General Hospital Licensed Social Worker Laura Nelson, the group's founder, was facilitating at the time. "I can't begin to tell you how wonderful she was and how she made me feel at ease," said Clifford.

Nelson, a bariatric patient herself, would be the first to tell others that "the decision to undergo weight loss surgery is not one to be taken lightly."

"While bariatric surgery is a tool for many patients to jumpstart their transformation towards a more active and healthy lifestyle, long-term support is critical to their success," said Nelson.

That need for long-term support is why Nelson started the group. It's also the reason she believes the group will continue to thrive under Clifford's leadership.

"Weight loss surgery is not for everyone," said Nelson, "and it is certainly not the 'easy way out' from obesity; however it is an option and we want to provide that support both before and after the surgery."

The Bariatric Support Group takes place from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. the fourth Wednesday of each month in the HGH Sonoma Conference Room. Clifford said those considering surgery as well as those who have undergone the procedure should attend.

While Humboldt General Hospital does not offer weight loss surgery, Clifford said the support group is offered as a community service. "This is really about our commitment to the care of our community," she said.

For more information on Humboldt General Hospital's Bariatric Support Group, please call Rebecca Clifford at (775) 623-3543.