EB17

NORTHWESTERN Dr Alex Nagle or Dr Eric Hungness - Chicago, Il

490 posts in this topic

Has/is anyone used this practice? I'm about 2/3 through their process, but am receiving different reports on when I'll meet with the surgeon (pre-op discussion to determine procedure) & submit to insurance (BCBS IL PPO). About how long after receiving approval from insurance (knocking on wood now) did you receive a surgery date? Thank you!

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Hi EB17, 

 

We are just starting the process.  Looks like you went with Dr. Nagle.  Any insights into the program you wish to share?  We are so excited.  Our insurance is requiring we do a 6 month diet with our doctor, so that started yesterday.  Are you enjoying life after your sugery?  Looks like you've lost a lot of weight!

 

Congratulations!!!

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Sorry I didn't see the original post, I used Dr. Nagle.  I've found him and the program at Northwestern to be fantastic.  Let me know of any questions.

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Hi EB17, 

 

We are just starting the process.  Looks like you went with Dr. Nagle.  Any insights into the program you wish to share?  We are so excited.  Our insurance is requiring we do a 6 month diet with our doctor, so that started yesterday.  Are you enjoying life after your sugery?  Looks like you've lost a lot of weight!

 

Congratulations!!!

Hi there,

It's an exciting journey! Dr. Nagle has been wonderful the handful of times I saw him. Originally I was looking at another Dr. through NorthShore, and my weight loss psych (who I saw for over a year prior to deciding to move forward) wouldn't let me go to anyone but Nagle or Hungness. In her opinion, they make a tighter sleeve, and she's seen more long term success from their patients.

I highly recommend using Laurie as your NUT. She can seem a little scattered at times, but is MUCH better than the others. I felt very prepared post-op after her classes. Congrats on beginning this process. It can be nerve wracking at times (awaiting insurance approval, second guessing your decision, etc.), but I'm so pleased this far. Started off at 265, was down to 245 prior to surgery, and now almost three months out I'm 206 (losing around 3 lbs a week). If you have questions about the hospital stay or people in the practice just lmk. Good luck - you're in great hands!!

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I second having Laurie as your NUT.  She is great, understanding and knowledgable.

BigSweetJohn likes this

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Wow!  It is so awesome to have you both caring enough to comment.  Thank you.  We started with a referral to Dr. Denham at NorthShore and my husband had his appointment and then found out our insurance (UnitedHealthcare) requires a center of Excellence and the closest was Northwestern Memorial. So, we shifted gears and had to enroll with Optum for the program through my husband's employer (Large Bank) and now we have a nurse case manager.  So, we're learning!  

 

I'm sure as we go through the stages we will have questions.  Thank you both for your kind words and support!  Looking forward now to October 14th when I go to the WLS Orientation at Northwesten Memorial and get really signed up into the program. 

 

EB17 and PapaG it looks like you each have done really well following the surgeries. Thank you for contributing to us newbies!  

 

Best wishes!  John 

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Attended the WLS Seminars at Northwestern Hospital and submitted our application forms.  Now just waiting on calls from the PA who reviews the applications. We've had two weigh-ins with our primary care physician and are on low glycemic diets and have 2 of the 6 weigh-ins required by insurance.  Minimal weight loss in the first month as we had to do a little food grieving, but now we're on our way. We've quit carbonation for a month and are very low carb. Laurie and Dr. Nagle were at my session and Dr. Hungness was at hubby's session (we have to go to different session so one of us can stay home with our 10 year old son).  

 

Thank you again for the guidance!

 

John 

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After reading this thread and seeing other posts that highly recommended Dr. Nagle, I called his office, but after speaking with the person on the phone, I didn't make a reservation for the orientation session. The person I spoke to said that regardless of my insurance coverage, it takes 6-8 months before they do the surgery and that he couldn't answer any questions, because information would be provided at the orientation session.

 

The idea of going to a dedicated bariatric center of excellence is appealing, but depending on how many hoops they make you jump through, I'm not sure their program would work for me, I have a demanding job, and I live and work closer to Wisconsin than the city, so right out of the gate I'd have to take the afternoon off to make it to a 4:30 session without any sense of the commitments required for the program (not to mention that 6-8 months is a long time to wait when I know my insurance doesn't require it).

 

My consultation on the 17th is with Dr. John Linn at Northshore. Their informational session was in the evening, so I didn't have to take a half day off to go, and their offices are convenient. However, although they offer a comprehensive program including nutritional and psychiatric counseling and patient support groups, the surgeons aren't specialized in bariatric and endocrine surgery. They're general surgeons who perform bariatric surgery.

 

The vibe I got from that brief conversation with Northwestern is that their program is very regimented, and they won't tell you anything about it until they "hook" you. You get out of a program what you put into it, and I'm more likely to be able to stick with a program with more convenient locations and scheduling.  Without any additional information, it's hard to know whether it's worth it to try to go to Northwestern. Plus, frankly, I'm miserable in my body and the idea of an arbitrary waiting period is unappealing.

 

Does anyone have experience with the Northshore program?

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Hi All,

 

Just as update, I have Laurie as my NUT and have been to Class I of the nutrition classes.  I plan to use Dr. Nagle as my surgeon as well.  I have my PSYCH appointment on Tuesday.  Next month I'll do Class II of the nutrition classes and then I think I have all of the prereq's done to see the surgeon.  I could not be happier with the program at Northwestern and have found the people incredibly warm and caring about me now, but more importantly about setting me up for long-term success.  

 

WendyH, my primary care physician is with Northshore so obviously I think they are a great healthcare system as well.  My insurance requires a Center of Excellence program and Northwestern is the closest program for us in Evanston.  My sister used a Center of Excellence in Fort Collins, CO for her sleeve and she has done fantastic, so I hope that I can match her experience. I can't compare Northwestern and Northshore as I only have experience with one program.  In terms of the waiting 6-8 months, I definitely get how long and frustrating that sounds at the beginning. But, I do believe that this is a major long-term life change and so while I was initially frustrated at the steps and length of time to get to the surgery, I now strongly feel that they actually were put in place so that I will be much more successful when I have my surgery.  It's been great having the time to get my head truly in place.  Because of work responsibilities the timing worked out perfectly for me.  But it is such a personal journey.  You do what is best FOR YOU!  I wish you every success!!!  

Edited by BigSweetJohn

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There are lots of programs and all of them vary in their preparation regiment. The program at Northwestern is very regimented and I see the wisdom of the approach. I get the desire to get the surgery quickly, but no matter what program you choose I can't stress the value of preparation, and that takes time. They do take their time at Northwestern, but by the time you get surgery you will be prepared. Make sure you're prepared WLS is a life altering thing.

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Hi Wendy, I believe that Dr. Denham with NorthShore used to practice with Nagle & Hungness at Northwestern. I will say that I started my process with NorthShore (Vernon Hills office), and ended up going through Northwestern. For whatever it's worth, look into the success rates. I'm in the far north suburbs as well, and it's always a chore to get downtown. Once you attend the info session (extremely informative, presented by a surgeon, nutritionist, and post-op patients) your appointments can be scheduled for less inconvenient times. In scheme of things, approx five trips downtown will be a distant memory in comparison to life with your sleeve. I've been advised by my psych that Northwestern has more "finesse" in making tighter sleeves & she sees better success rates (she predominantly has patients at these two practices) with NW patients. My major con with NW was the fact that it's a teaching hospital- which made me anxious. Everything was fine, but it's worth mentioning.

Best of luck to you & whatever decision you make. There are SO many - is surgery the right option, if so which one, which hospital/doctor to go with, etc. Ugh! Personally I'm thrilled with surgery, my sleeve, and Dr. Nagle's team, but you need to do what's best for you. You may need a week or two off post-op, so saving your time off is smart.

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Good food for thought.

 

EB17, I may switch my consult to Dr. Denham. Dr. Linn led the informational session I attended, and when I looked at patient reviews and publication history of the surgeons in the Northshore practice, I considered making my appointment with Dr. Denham, but I went ahead and made it with Dr. Linn, because when we chatted briefly, I felt like we had a good rapport.

 

I may also go ahead and attend the informational session at Northwestern. I am a planner, and I do value taking a metered approach; I'm just concerned about the logistics of the downtown location and how evasive they were on the phone. Knowing it's about half a dozen visits and that the hours are more flexible after the orientation is helpful. 

 

Looking at when I can schedule the surgery, I need to consider the various planning cycles at work, and I know that one of my colleagues is going out on maternity leave, plus with two kids starting college in the fall, I would prefer to get it done while we still have teenagers in the house help to provide backup for our three youngest (ages 4, 4, and 21 months) during the immediate post-op period. Fortunately I don't have to worry about saving time off. I have plenty of vacation time, and I'll use it rather than bothering with medical leave.

 

John, you mentioned that your insurance requires a center of excellence, and I think you mentioned you have UHC. So do I, but when I spoke with them on the phone, they mentioned that my company's requirements for their employees to receive bariatric surgery are very lenient, so I'm guessing I have more flexibility about where I go. This is such a big decision.

 

One thing I know I need to do is find a PCP. I had an awesome PCP, but he became a hospital administrator. Since then I've tried three different PCPs and haven't found one I like. It's really frustrating, because I have great relationships with specialists but can't seem to find a good PCP. Any recommendations on that front would be appreciated as well. EB17, you mentioned Vernon Hills, that's actually convenient to me.

 

And Paul, I have no illusions about WLS being life altering, which is why I've been opposed to doing it until now. I have an acquaintance at work who is very open about having RNY surgery 15 years ago. We've chatted, and although she's had her ups and downs with it, she's still pleased with the decision to get it done. I'm leaning more toward the sleeve for three reasons, 1) lower likelihood of dumping and malnutrition concerns, 2) the potential for reducing ghrelin production with the sleeve is particularly appealing, and 3) the long-term eating style post-sleeve suits me. I feel healthy and strong eating mostly lean proteins and vegetables, and although I eat plenty of junk food at the moment, as long as I stay away from refined sugar and am careful with rice, I'm happy with just a moderate carbohydrate intake for the long haul.

 

Lots to think about.

Edited by WendyH
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One other consideration that lends itself to it being okay to wait a bit on the surgery if the Northwestern program seems best for me is that it would take only a 40 lb loss to dramatically improve my quality of life. I can do that in three months, and if I have an end game, I can keep going for longer.

In that scenario I have a little fear of losing enough weight pre-surgery that the insurance would balk at paying for surgery when I seem to be able to lose it on my own. However losing almost twice that amount still leaves me with a BMI over 40, and even if it drops below 40 I can invoke comorbidity.

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Hello I am going into Northwestern on Tuesday for my information session. I was wondering if someone could kinda give me a over view of how the program works. I called the office to ask some questions and the girl told me she wouldnt answer anything, that I wouldnt have the surgery for a least 8-10 months and that I just have to wait till I go to the information session to find anything out... Looking beyond her totally rude and unprofessional demeanor I have heard that this program is wonderful and that the doctors are fantastic as well. Can anyone give me a brief play by play of what goes on in the 6 months that you wait and why it takes so long to even get an appointment?

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The people employed at the intake counter at Northwestern are... how do I put this? Not the best educated people or qualified to be answering questions. I'm positive they're instructed to not answer anyone's questions. You can always ask to be transferred to a woman named Kaitlyn. She is an amazing counselor who can answer your questions and works closely with the surgeons & nutritionists.

Edited by EB17

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I apologize for any spelling or grammar errors, I'm driving! :-). I went to my introductory seminar at the end of January 2014 had my surgery on June 27. Only five months - three & a half weeks of tgat was awaiting Insurance approval. I had zero comorbidities and a BMI of 40.

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That makes me extremely hopeful! I have northwestern memorial insurance and I know I qualify and I know it is covered 100 percent as well. I also have no comorbidities and I have been on doctor regulated diets recently that just havent worked for me, im hoping that all of those things will speed my process along. But on the flip side I do completely respect the process and will do whatever they want/need me to do in order to get this done. I do enjoy working out, I actually love it. I hope that my good habits will also be a proactive push twords them getting me in sooner. How did you feel about the surgeons? Ive heard rumblings also about certain classes you have to take? How many of them are there?

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Be sure you don't lose too much weight... I gained several pounds for my initial weigh in, and wore my heaviest clothes, boots, jewelry, etc. I was advised not to go below 40 BMI off the record to help insurance approval. To expedite the process go for your psych eval ASAP, bring a completed app to the information session, have your PCP write his/her letter, and schedule your nutrition appointments as early as you're permitted to (these are probably what will hold you up the longest). If I remember correctly there are three pre-op NUT classes that are once a month, and a couple post-op.

Be sure to ask everyone you see (not the front desk/intake folks, but anyone you meet with "behind the doors") for their timeline. It's frustrating no matter where you go since the guidelines vary from patient to patient. Try to stay on top of your file with both the surgeons office & insurance company do you don't get lost in the shuffle.

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WendyH - In terms of insurance, I should have clarified.  I do have UHC through my husband's employer.  His company pays a higher percentage and provides other financial incentive to use a Center of Excellence.  He actually started at Northshore and met Dr. Denham and liked him, but then switched to Northwestern for less out of pocket costs for us when he found out through his HR department.  And, maybe there are different versions of medical plans through the same carrier??? I know with BC/BS it's definitely that way, they have a ton of plans.  As for travel downtown, it is a bit of a hassle, but one of their PSYCH's has an office in Northbrook, so that would be closer at least.

 

He's about 1.5 months ahead of me in the process (intentional because we have an 11 year old and intend to care of each other that first week) and had a little different experience (i.e., needing more one-on-one NUT visits) than I needed.  It made us both feel good that the program is very specific to the individual and not just a surgery mill running people through.  I think that speaks to their outcomes.  We have no complaints about the program.  EB17 is right about the front desk staff...they're just doing the scheduling and are limited in how they can respond. When you go through the doors and see the PAs, Nutritionists, and it seems to me the Surgeon (Dr. Nagle was at my introduction meeting) they have each been supportive, caring and devoted to the work.  So, don't let the front desk scare you off! 

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Can anyone elaborate on the role of the PCP in the Northwestern program? I know a referral is required, but I've been floundering for several years without a PCP relationship that I'm satisfied with.

One I had too much of a language barrier with, the next didn't respect my decision to nurse my son after his first birthday and told me to eat a low fat diet (which I know from experience is a recipe for failure).

The third was a real doozy. He was adamant that because I was experiencing loose stools during the time that two of my children were diagnosed with gastroenteritis that I had an acute onset of lactose intolerance and needed to cut all dairy from my diet despite knowing that I hadn't eaten any dairy recently. When I told him I feel best when I get the majority of my carbs from fruits and vegetables, he jumped in and told me that I needed to cut all fruit out of my diet because it's too high in sugar. Then he proceeded to tell me that the only diet I should consider is the American Diabetes Association diet. During that visit he basically told me to cut almost all sources of carbohydrates from my diet except for whole grains and white carbs and to follow a diet that's heavier in carbs than what makes me feel my healthiest. Nope, not a fit.

There is a doctor that monitored me during my 160 lb loss several years ago. I believe he's an internist, but he was trying to get into "boutique practice" at the time. Maybe that didn't pan out and I can reestablish the relationship.

All rambling aside, what is the role of the PCP in the Northwestern program?

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I'm not sure that Northwestern requires involvement from your PCP, or if it is just an insurance requirement. Sorry. Mine was just a letter from my doctor stating he believes the surgery is a good fit for me. Ask NW - there may even be a template your doctor can use when you settle on a PCP.

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Thank you all so much for your support and all of the useful information. Are any of you aware if you need to use the offices Psychologist or if you can see one on your own? Also when it comes to submitting things to the insurance company for approval what needs to happen there? Do I need to wait to see the surgeons first or can I have my PCP submit an order for approval?

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Dr. Nagle & Dr. Hungness don't have an in-house psychologist, but they'll give you a list of recommendations at the seminar. As far as submitting for approval, the surgeon's office has a specialist who will contact your insurance co, ensure they/you have all the necessary paperwork & appointments completed, and submit.

Once you attend the seminar & submit your application, make an appointment with Kaitlyn Fiore ASAP. This is a one-on-one intake appointment, and she'll be able to answer the majority of your questions. You won't meet with the insurance liaison (mine was Stephanie) until you've completed all of the program requirements. Then she'll ensure your surgeon completes his letter & send everything to your insurance company.

It can take awhile because of the dietician appointments. They take awhile to get into (due to the sheer volume of people wanting to use this practice), and then you need to wait four weeks between each nutrition meeting. The waiting can be frustrating, but it's almost all for your benefit (preparing you mentally & physically for surgery, making sure you choose the best surgery for you (I thought I 100% knew, but changed my mind), and gathering all of the requirements from your insurance co & surgeons office to optimize ins approval). My experience started this time last year, so things may have changed or may be different based on our insurance requirements (I had BCBS IL PPO). I wish I had a clear step-by-step answer for you - I know that's what I wanted!! Good luck at the seminar. Wishing you, WendyH, BigSweetJohn & his wife all the best!!

Pierce1013 likes this

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I decided to attend an information session at Northwestern. Sorry Pierce, I'm gonna miss you this week. My husband will be out of town Tues, so I'm booking the 2/19 session. I like the idea of going to a bariatric center of excellence and working with dedicated GI and endocrine surgeons, and you guys speak so highly of the program.

It's not a done deal, but I'm leaning strongly toward Northwestern. I may still do a surgical consult at Northshore to be sure I'm making an informed decision, but I think I'll meet with Dr. Denham instead.

Thanks for all your thoughts and input.

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EB17 I just wanna start out by saying thank you for always not only getting back so quickly but being so helpful, by boyfriend and I are both blown away at how supportive perfect strangers are being and we are very thankful we stumbled over this sight. Did you like the physchologist you met with or based on their list do you have any reccomendations? Another question is are all of your appointments down in Chicago? Im more than willing to go where ever but if they would let me see someone out in the suburbs that would be nice I live very close to the train that takes you straight to Oglvie but its still an hour and a half commute. How often were you there during your process? Once a week? Twice a week? What made you decide on the sleeve? I have been leaning twords the Rouenxy..

 

Thanks again..

And Wendy Good luck to you maybe we will see eachother if you decide to stick with northwestern at some of the classes!

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