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Center for Weight Loss Surgery at Saint Joseph East Celebrates 20-Year Anniversary


LEXINGTON, Ky. (April 21, 2022) – The CHI Saint Joseph Health – Center for Weight Loss Surgery at Saint Joseph East is celebrating two decades of patient service. The program began on April 16, 2002, on the Saint Joseph East campus and has since improved the health of more than 8,500 patients through the innovative procedures in bariatric surgery.

“Gastric surgery is a treatment that gives new life to those who have experienced ineffective weight loss through diet and exercise alone,” said Kathy Love, president, Saint Joseph East. “Anyone who has participated in weight loss surgery can attest that it isn’t just about losing weight, but also about eliminating the related, and often chronic, health problems that come with a higher body mass. We’re proud to have provided this resource to the community and look forward to serving many more patients for years to come.”

Gastric bypass and sleeve gastrectomy procedures are both performed with the latest robotic and laparoscopic techniques by board-certified physicians at the Center for Weight Loss Surgery, a nationally accredited center by the American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery. Additionally, once surgery is complete, patients continue to have access to a dedicated team of dieticians, exercise physiologists, health psychologists and more.

Karen Hillenmeyer, BS, PA-C, director, Bariatrics, CHI Saint Joseph Heath, has been with the center since it opened in 2002. “When we began the program 20 years ago, I never imagined that we would have changed the lives of such a vast number of patients,” she said. “The years of increased life expectancy in these individuals is immeasurable.”

Diane Mastin, a retired teacher in Lexington, was the eighth person to undergo weight loss surgery at the center after its opening in 2002. She shed more than 200 pounds and has been able to keep most of it off over the past two decades after developing better eating habits and an exercise regimen. She credits her success to the support received from the team at the center.

“There are other freedoms that come with weight loss surgery other than a lower number on the scale,” said Mastin. “I could move better. I didn’t take up the whole chair, and I could go on a plane and have no trouble with the seatbelt.”

After the surgery, Mastin also noted that it was easier to interact with the students in her first-grade class. At the time, she was a teacher at Willard Elementary in Perry County. Mastin says it’s important that those considering weight loss surgery know exactly why they are having surgery, what they want to get out of it, and encourages them to be realistic.

“It is definitely a change in mindset,” she said. “You’ll learn that you’re eating to live, not living to eat.”

For more information on the CHI Saint Joseph Health – Center for Weight Loss Surgery at Saint Joseph East, visit www.chisaintjosephhealth.org/EastWeightLossSurgery or call 859.967.5520.

About CHI Saint Joseph Health

CHI Saint Joseph Health, part of CommonSpirit Health, is one of the largest and most comprehensive health systems in the Commonwealth of Kentucky with 100 locations in 20 counties, including hospitals, physician groups, clinics, primary care centers, specialty institutes, home health agencies and an ambulatory Care Center. The hospitals in CHI Saint Joseph Health are Flaget Memorial Hospital, Saint Joseph Berea, Saint Joseph East, Saint Joseph Hospital, Saint Joseph Jessamine, Saint Joseph London, Saint Joseph Mount Sterling, and Women’s Hospital at Saint Joseph East. In total, the health system serves patients in 35 counties statewide. CHI Saint Joseph Health is dedicated to providing a wide array of services toward a goal of building a healthier future for all. CHI Saint Joseph Health embodies a strong mission and faith-based heritage and works through local partnerships to expand access to care in the communities it serves.

About Saint Joseph East

Saint Joseph East is a 217-bed full-service community hospital located in the southeastern section of Lexington, Kentucky. Established in 1983, the facility serves residents of central and eastern Kentucky. At Saint Joseph East, ambulatory surgery, 24-hour emergency care and women’s health services are supported through a vast array of inpatient and outpatient programs. 

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Publish date: 

Thursday, April 21, 2022

Media Contact


Mary Branham, Director, Communications

P: (859) 313-2642

Email: [email protected]