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Weight Loss Institute

Surgical Weight Loss Institute

Contact Us at 845.858.7277

Hear from Our Patients, Meet Our Team and Learn About the Surgical Weight Loss Institute       


When you struggle with weight issues, it's easy to feel overwhelmed by your weight loss options and dismayed by setbacks. At the Surgical Weight Loss Institute at Bon Secours Community Hospital, we see you as a person with a complex chronic disease that requires treatment and a person who deserves compassionate care and respect. Our program enhances quality of life and our comprehensive multidisciplinary team focuses on treating the whole person.

Why Choose The Surgical Weight Loss Institute

The Surgical Weight Loss Institute’s Bariatric Surgery program has been accredited as a Comprehensive Center by the Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery Accreditation and Quality Improvement Program (MBSAQIP run by the American College of Surgeons (ACS) in conjunction with the American Society of Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery (ASMBS)

The Surgical Weight Loss Institute at Bon Secours Community Hospital is accredited through the Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery Accreditation and Quality Improvement Program (MBSAQIP) in a joint effort with the American College of Surgeons (ACS). This accreditation formally acknowledges the program’s commitment to providing exceptional care through standards of practice and supporting quality improvement and patient safety efforts for metabolic and bariatric surgery patients.

The Surgical Weight Loss Institute’s accreditation ensures that bariatric surgical patients receive a multidisciplinary program, not just a surgical procedure, which improves patient outcomes and long-term success. The accredited center offers pre-operative assessment and preparation, excellent surgical care, and life-long post-operative care and support, designed specifically for severely obese patients.

Are you ready to change your life?

Chip's Story:


Maria's Story:


Rocky's Story:


Teri's Story:


Hear From Our Patients

Testimonial 1: Francis "Chip" Estenes

Chip Estenes was well on his way to weighing 500 pounds. Then he made a decision that changed his life.

By Debra Bresnan

As seen in the March/April issue of Advancing Care

Francis “Chip” Estenes, 49, weighed 425 pounds when he made the decision to undergo bariatric weight-loss surgery at Bon Secours Community Hospital, a member of the Westchester Medical Center Health Network (WMCHealth) in Port Jervis.

“I struggled with my weight for most of my life. I tried programs to lose weight but would gain back even more,” he says. “Weight was hindering my lifestyle and affecting my health. My joints ached, and I had chronic back problems and fatty liver disease. I saw myself going to 500 pounds easily.”

Following his doctor’s recommendation, Estenes called Bon Secours and, after soul searching, prayer and research, had a laparoscopic sleeve gastrectomy, in September 2016. Seven months later, he ran his first of many 5K races that would follow.

“Before, I was always on the sidelines, cheering and thinking, I want to be one of those runners. Crossing the finish line brings feelings of joy, achievement and accomplishment,” says Estenes, who lives in Port Jervis with his wife, Kelley, and their rescue dog, Sally.

“Surgery is really a small part of the process. It’s not what makes a patient lose weight; it’s the tool with which patients can modify behavior and diet to achieve weight loss,” says Estenes’ surgeon, Peter Kwon, MD.

Estenes’ surgery — one of more than 600 bariatric surgeries the team at the Surgical Weight Loss Institute performs annually at Bon Secours Community Hospital and Good Samaritan Hospital, both members of WMCHealth — was performed at Bon Secours Community Hospital.

Under the leadership of Bariatric Medical Director Jaime Cepeda, MD, the Institute is accredited by the American College of Surgeons (ACS) and the American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery (ASMBS) and has received a five-star rating for excellence from Healthgrades, a leading online healthcare resource.

A prospective patient’s first step is to attend an in-person or online seminar, to engage with the full, multidisciplinary team — not just the surgeon. They then meet with the clinical team and receive instructions, including extensive preoperative evaluations for uncontrolled diabetes, cardiac issues, sleep apnea, psychiatric health and more, to ensure they are good surgical candidates.

The sleeve gastrectomy typically takes 45 minutes and is the most commonly utilized in three types of bariatric surgery. Most patients have a one-day hospital stay and return to work in two weeks.

Two misconceptions — that morbid obesity is caused by a character flaw or laziness and that bariatric surgery is the “easy way out” — are prevailing prejudices, yet neither is true, says Dr. Kwon. “There are significant genetic factors, and with easy access to plenty of empty calories and energy-conservation genes, people can get lots of mileage out of few calories. Our team is trained to be nonjudgmental and treat morbid obesity like any other chronic illness.”

And, he adds, due to the required dramatic lifestyle alterations, there’s nothing easy about bariatric weight-loss surgery. “Studies show that nonsurgical weight loss using diet, exercise and medication do not provide the same results long-term. Bariatric surgery is very safe and very effective, and for these patients, it is the only way. The average patient can expect to lose 50-60 percent of excess weight and maintain that long-term.”

“Chip was a very compliant patient, an ‘A‘ patient, who excelled above and beyond the average. He’s a diligent attendee of the support groups we offer, both before and after surgery, and is quite inspirational to others,” says Dr. Kwon.

Estenes, a caseworker for troubled youth and families, says these welcoming support groups made him feel like part of a family. “Becky [Aschoff, RN, BSN, CBN], who runs my support group, came to my first 5K run and was at the finish line, in the rain! If that isn’t support, I don’t know what is,” he says.

“I feel 1,000 times better, and it’s incredible — liberating, like a rebirth,” says Estenes, who by January 2019 weighed 215 pounds and admits he was surprised to lose more than 200 pounds in his first year following surgery. To reflect his personal weight-loss journey, Estenes designed a special shirt.

“The back of the shirt has my name and the number ‘425.’ I tell people that the number is behind me and that is where the weight is always going to be.”

Estenes now enjoys bike rides, gym workouts and hiking. In fact, he’s an Ambassador for the Outdoor Club of Port Jervis, providing guided beginner hikes to the public in the Port Jervis Watershed Park Trails.

What’s next on Estenes’ journey? “Ziplining!” he says. “And, our support group wants to do a tandem parachute jump/skydive out of a plane. These events were always in the back of my mind when I was heavy. I would really like to experience them.”

Testimonial 2:  Frank Fanelli

Bon Secours Community Hospital Surgical Weight Loss Patient Feeling Healthy, Lean and Strong.

Before and After Weight Loss“I’ve lost 170 pounds, and I am the healthiest I’ve been in my life,” said Frank Fanelli of Lackawaxen, Pa. In 2015, Fanelli came to Bon Secours Community Hospital for a Sleeve Gastrectomy (gastric sleeve).

Sleeve Gastrectomy, one of three surgical options offered at The Institute, reduces the size of the stomach so patients eat less and feel satiated faster. His surgeon was Jamie Cepeda, M.D. from Tri-State Bariatrics.

“Dr. Cepeda was very compassionate, informative and thorough. He explained everything to me and it was easy and comfortable to talk with him,” Frank said. “In the near future, my daughter will have the same surgery and Dr. Cepeda will perform her procedure. That’s how much we like him!”

Bon Secours Community Hospital is only 30 minutes from Fanelli’s home. Being able to have the procedure locally made life easier for him and his family – from going to the hospital to returning home the day after surgery.

“Starting the minute I entered the Bariatric Unit, I can honestly say that this is the best care I’ve ever had. The staff was very knowledgeable and they catered to my every need,” he said. His mother, Domenica, and his wife, Nancy, were in the waiting area during his procedure.  Understandably, they were very concerned and the staff set them at ease by keeping them up to date and explaining everything that was going on during surgery and recovery.

Having this procedure was a tough choice for Fanelli. He said that it took him a couple of years to make the decision. But now he is feeling healthy, lean and strong.

“I’m in the best shape ever, and I no longer need to take any medications,” he said. “I would recommend The Institute at Bon Secours to anyone who needs weight loss surgery.”

He again returned to Bon Secours Community Hospital a few months later for an unrelated procedure. He was also pleased with his care during that experience. “The nurses here provide great care; they are very accommodating, kind and attentive.” 

The Bon Secours Community Hospital Surgical Weight-Loss Institute Team       

Our team of compassionate and competent professionals is deeply committed to your long-term success in your journey towards weight loss and a healthier, longer life. We are here to help you every step of the way. It is certainly a difficult process, but with our help, good health is achievable.

Our Surgeons:


Jaime Cepeda Jr. MD, FACS
Bariatric Medical Director
Surgeon, Bon Secours Community Hospital


Peter H. Kwon, MD, FACS
Bariatric Surgeon, 
Bon Secours Community Hospital

Types of Weight-Loss Surgery  


Jaime Cepeda Jr. MD, FACS, Bariatric Medical Director Surgeon, Bon Secours Community Hospital

Research has shown that Bariatric Surgery (also called Weight-Loss Surgery or Obesity Surgery) is the BEST method for permanent weight loss. Additionally permanent loss of excess weight, can lead to a reduction or even elimination of many serious health problems, including diabetes, hypertension and obstructive sleep apnea.

The Surgical Weight Loss Institute at Bon Secours Community Hospital offers a unique team approach to weight loss. Our program offers personal intensive pre-operative assessment, and continues to support patients beyond surgery. Our surgeons, dietitians, physician assistants, psychologists, and nurses work with you to insure a successful outcome.

Gastric Bypass Surgery 

  • Also known as Roux-en-Y gastric bypass, is a combination metabolic procedure that slows the absorption of food and decreases calorie intake by creating a small stomach pouch that gets connected to the small intestine.

Gastric Sleeve Surgery

  • Also known as Vertical Sleeve Gastrectomy, is a restrictive metabolic procedure that removes a portion of the stomach that produces ghrelin, the hormone that stimulates hunger. The smaller stomach size reduces food intake and decreases calorie consumption.

Gastric Banding or Lap Band® Surgery

  • Involves placing a silicone ring around the upper part of the stomach. The balloon inside the ring is inflated to create a small pouch to make the patient feel fuller sooner.

For candidates planning on having Weight-Loss surgery we are pleased to announce we are now offering a free online webinar.

Your Journey Towards Good Health Can Start Here

The Surgical Weight Loss Institute provides patients seeking surgical treatment for severe obesity and its related conditions a high-quality therapy choice at a nationally accredited program that meets the highest standards for patient safety and quality of care in the Tri-State Area and Hudson Valley. The American College of Surgeons (ACS) Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery Accreditation and Quality Improvement Program (MBSAQIP), in partnership with the American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery (ASMBS), have awarded Bon Secours Community Hospital a Comprehensive Center accreditation.

For information and appointments call:  845.858.7277


You may be eligible for weight-loss surgery if:

  • Your BMI is 40 or more
  • Your BMI is 35 or more and you have one or more serious medical conditions associated with obesity 
  • Your BMI is 30 or more and you have one or more serious medical conditions, Lap Band surgery may be an option for you 
  • You have been overweight for more than five years
  • Your serious weight-loss attempts have had only short-term success 
  • You are not suffering from any other diseases that may have caused your obesity 
  • You are willing to continue to be monitored by the specialists treating you 

Click HERE to Calculate your BMI

Insurance options

Most insurance companies now cover weight-loss surgery for severely obese patients, but each insurance plan has its own specific set of requirements.  Our insurance specialist can assist you in all matters regarding your insurance.  

If you find that your plan does not cover weight-loss surgery, we offer financial programs.  You can call 845.585.7277 to find out more. 


Surgical Weight Loss Institute Informational Seminar

Additional Education:

American Society for Metabolic & Bariatric Surgery