Confident, honest, encouraging, patient-focused — these are all words that I would use to describe Dr. Mark Kligman, Head of Bariatric Surgery and the Director of the Center for Weight Management and Wellness at the University of Maryland Medical. But if you were to ask me what the first thing that I would say when I hear the name Dr. Mark Kligman, it would be ‘I love Dr. Kligman!’
My name is Toccaro Hill, and I grateful to have this opportunity to share my thoughts about the Bariatrics Program at the University of Maryland Medical Center.
In 2007, my primary care physician knew that it was time for me to make a change—I weighed in at 423 pounds—and she recommended that I call the Bariatrics Program at UMMC. When I first called the office, I had the opportunity to speak with Kelly Jackson, who works with Dr. Kligman in his administrative office. She was extremely friendly, a wealth of information, and spoke very highly about the program.
When I first attended the weight loss surgery seminar, I was late and missed a good chunk of the presentation. When I was told that I could listen to the remaining part of the seminar but that it would be necessary for me to come back to hear the whole thing, I started to cry. It happened to be Kelly who was there that night working at the seminar and she was able to reassure me that everything was going to be okay and why it was important for me to be in attendance for the entire presentation.
I did attend a seminar in its entirety and I have to say that Dr. Kligman’s presentation was amazing. It was full of information, but what was most impressive to me was his honesty. Dr. Kligman could have just focused on the positives about having the surgery, but rather he also discussed the negatives and potential risks and complications that could arise. It was at this time that I knew that there was something special about this program and that I would be more than just a ‘medical record’ to this physician and his staff — I knew that Dr. Kligman was the right surgeon for me.
My initial visit with Dr. Kligman was on February 18, 2008. Everything that he addressed in the seminar was exactly what happened in the office visit. He was very thorough in his evaluation and everything that he did was consistent—he was consistent in reminding me that he took his job, the surgery, and the program very seriously and expected the same from me. He said that he expected me to be committed to my own health care, which would match his commitment to my health care too.
Over the next few months, I went through a series of tests and appointments that his staff arranged for me. I have to say that his staff is extremely helpful and encouraging, and definitely know how to handle all of the intrinsic things that go on with insurance companies and surgery approvals. I attended a lot of the support groups that were led by Nadja Muchow, R.N., the clinical program coordinator and Mary Beth Sodus, RD/LD, the dietitian. These support groups really made me more mentally prepared for the surgery. They are a definite plus of this program. Prior to my surgery, I had a pre-operative visit with Dr. Kligman and again there was the consistency. Again, he reminded me of the importance in being committed to my own care and he started laying out some goals for me.
September 2, 2008 was the date of surgery. At the morning of surgery, I weighed 389 pounds. While I knew that I still had a far way to go, this was encouraging because I knew that I had already started to make a commitment to my own health by following the nutritional program laid out by Mary Beth. I was very impressed with the hospital, the staff and those people that were with me when I woke up in the recovery room. I loved the room that I was admitted to while at UMMC and very thankful for the nursing staff that took care of me. Over the next few weeks and months, I had a few required office visits for Dr. Kligman and his staff to evaluate everything and to assess my progress. Yes, I have to say it again—he was consistent in everything that he did.
So here I am now, nearly 1 year post-op and I weigh 218 pounds. Yes that’s right—218 pounds. I am so happy that I have lost 200 pounds in the year after this surgery, but this is what I expected. Why did I expect this? Because Dr. Kligman laid out specific goals for me to reach in terms of weight loss for each month and/or for each office visit. While he was encouraging through the entire process, he expects discipline. All I wanted to do at each office visit was to make Dr. Kligman smile, so I made sure that I did my part to meet his goals. I respect him so much for enforcing this discipline and for honest when I needed to, excuse the pun, ‘shape up’. Dr. Kligman is not a ‘salesperson’ just looking to add another medical record in his office, but rather he and his staff make you feel like you are more than just a patient; this is definitely something unique that you do not find in other health care offices.
I am happy that I started on this journey, and I am even more thrilled that Dr. Kligman and his staff have been on this journey with me. While I have had great success thus far, I know that I am still not done. As Dr. Kligman says to his patients, ‘You are a patient for life’, thus I will still have yearly follow up visits with Dr. Kligman so I know that I need to maintain my discipline in order to keep a smile on his face. And I want to continue to see that smile on his face, especially when I say again “I LOVE YOU DR. KLIGMAN!"