The Jewish Hospital — the first Jewish hospital of many to be established in the U.S. — has a strong reputation locally for cancer care and computer-navigated orthopedic surgery, among other specialties. It operates the area’s only adult bone marrow transplant program, as well as an intensive care unit dedicated to oncology patients.

Some in the know also realize its educational mission, having been named in 2006 one of the top 100 teaching hospitals in the nation by Solucient, a leading source of healthcare data and evaluations.

The hospital was founded in response to Cincinnati’s cholera epidemic of 1850. Today, Jewish Hospital is responding to what many healthcare experts call a national epidemic: obesity.

Five years ago, in a natural progression from the comprehensive obesity treatment program the hospital operated for 18 years, the Surgical Weight Loss Program was born. Now recognized as a center of excellence, the program offers what is called gastric bypass “Roux-en-Y” and lap-band surgical procedures, as well as an array of noninvasive weight-loss services.

Susan Sewell is a 15-year veteran of the hospital and the director of the Weight Management Center. She says the program has taken non-surgical knowledge of obesity and applied it to surgery.

“Weight-loss surgery is a tool to help people put into practice all the things they’ve learned through their years of dieting,” she explains.

For people who have participated in Weight Watchers and other weight-loss programs that advocate eating five small meals a day and chewing food thoroughly, “We are good at bringing these things to life, through counselors and behavior modification, because for the first six months after surgery they feel like a fish out of water.”

Sewell says about 250 people participate in the program annually, evenly split between men and women, professionals and non-professsionals. Most are between 40 and 60 years old, and need to lose 160 pounds or more. Their conditions sometimes are connected to back or knee problems, or sleep apnea, Sewell adds.

“Your body learns what you teach it, and re-establishing confidence and skills to live life fully again entails using a new set of skills”.