Bariatric doctor plans to leave hospital |

Bariatric doctor plans to leave hospital

Becky Bosshart
Appeal Staff Writer
Roberta Simon, a patient of the Bariatric Program, shows how she has fed herself for nearly a year in her home. Simon said Friday that she believes that hospital politics have driven her surgeon, Dr. Trotter, and the Bariatric Program away from Carson Tahoe Regional Medical Center. Kevin Clifford/Nevada Appeal

Some patients are worried that the departure of the only bariatric surgeon in Carson City will hinder their treatment and leave the area without an obesity specialist.

Dr. Lee Trotter plans to leave his Carson City practice on June 30. Trotter works with Capitol Surgery and is the medical director for Carson Tahoe Regional Medical Center’s bariatric program, which performs gastric bypass surgeries for the treatment of severe obesity. Trotter’s departure is not related to the recent layoffs at the hospital.

Hospital executives know this “leaves a void” so they will recruit to find a surgeon to replace Trotter, said Carson Tahoe Regional Healthcare spokeswoman Cheri Glockner.

Trotter was asked to head the program in March 2005. He has not yet told the hospital when he will be leaving, Glockner said, even though his patients have been informed that this is his last month in Carson City. Efforts to reach Trotter for comment were unsuccessful.

“We do understand that this is a program that many people in our community would like to see us continue to offer,” she said. “We are exploring opportunities to continue the program.”

Roberta Simon, of Mound House, is one patient who is concerned about the effects of Trotter’s departure on his patients.

Simon said she had problems with her first bariatric surgery, done in the Los Angeles area about nine years ago, because she did not have proper follow-up care. For her own safety, and the safety of others who have the same operation, she wants a highly skilled bariatric surgeon in the area.

“He got in there and found out my stomach was disintegrating,” Simon said Monday, on her way to meet with a doctor in Boston who is continuing her treatment. “So he got in there and ended up removing my entire stomach.”

Trotter created a new stomach for her, but the tissue damage was severe. Simon has been fed intravenously for the last 11 months. After months in the hospital and numerous tests to determine the severity of her stomach problem, Trotter found her a specialist in Boston to treat the leaks in her stomach with a type of minimally invasive surgery. After her Tuesday surgery she should be able to eat and drink normally again. The 48-year-old credits the surgeon with saving her life.

“Dr. Trotter has helped me by advocating for me with my insurance company,” Simon said. “He had to appeal to them several times because they were not going to pay for certain things, like my feeding.”

Simon said obesity will continue to be a problem and these patients will go to Reno for services if they are not available here. Or they will follow Trotter.

Joni Downey, of Carson City, said she is one patient who will continue her follow-up care with Trotter.

“You have to have loose skin removed and that requires a plastic surgeon, but Dr. Trotter is skilled enough to do that,” said Downey, who lost 95 pounds after her October surgery. “I will be following him wherever he goes for my treatment and surgeries.”

But there’s one thing she needs in Carson City: the support group for bariatric patients. Downey said the support group is essential because patients need to learn how to eat properly after surgery. They also can get depressed and need the support of others. She said the bariatric program is dependent on Trotter, and when he goes that could end the support group.

The future of the support group after Trotter leaves is unknown, the hospital spokeswoman said.

Carson-Tahoe Hospital has had problems with its bariatric program in the past. It suspended the surgeries conducted at the hospital from December 2004 to February 2004, which Dr. Kent Skogerson claimed in a law suit drove him out of practice. A hospital executive said the suspension was in the best interests of patient safety.

• Contact reporter Becky Bosshart at or 881-1212.