Regional Bariatric Care Centre

The Regional Bariatric Care Centre (RBCC) at the Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre is a Bariatric Centre of Excellence, one of several such centres across Ontario. The RBCC provides services and options for those struggling with obesity. These include:

Surgical Services – the RBCC provides care for those who choose gastric bypass surgery as an option including pre- and post-operative care, counselling, and surgical services. This care meets standards and protocols developed in conjunction with the Ontario Bariatric Network and approved by the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care. Although most surgeries take place at the Health Sciences Centre, in certain complex cases patients may be referred to a partner program in southern Ontario.

Medical Services – the RBCC also provides non-surgical services for those who cannot or choose not to have surgery. These include a 26-week Meal Replacement Clinic and a 12-week Lifestyle Management Clinic.

Both services are provided on a referral basis. They are designed to help people lose weight and therefore prevent or delay the onset of chronic conditions related to obesity including diabetes, cardiac problems, cancer, and other diseases and medical conditions.

What to Expect

Surgical Services

Patients referred for surgery will meet with members of the RBCC interprofessional team. During the initial appointment, patients will have the opportunity to discuss options and ask questions. You may find it useful to write down questions as they occur to you, and bring a pen and paper with you to your appointment to record the answers. You are also welcome to bring a friend or loved one to your appointment.

Before surgery, you may undergo a number of tests to help ensure your safety during surgery and, in some cases, to help determine whether or not surgery is an option. Typical tests include abdominal ultrasounds, cardiac imaging, colonoscopy, cardiac stress test, and blood tests. The type of tests needed will depend on your particular circumstances, and will be discussed with you during your appointment. A full list of tests and what they are for can be found on the Ontario Bariatric Network (OBN) website:

The assessment and follow-up process for each patient is very intense and the workload is great. Each patient who proceeds to surgery is then followed for five years and can expect to visit the RBCC 12 times during that time.

Please bring your Health Card to each appointment at the RBCC.

Medical Services

Those who choose medical services only will meet for group counselling at the RBCC once per week during the length of the respective program. You will learn new skills to help you make healthier nutrition choices and other lifestyle changes that will lead to long-term weight loss, and support you through the often-difficult journey. Participants are encouraged to ask questions and to support one another during these sessions.

Please bring your Health Card to each appointment at the RBCC.

Am I Eligible for Bariatric Surgery?

Bariatric surgery is a life-altering procedure, and in some cases it is not reversible. For that reason, the RBCC speaks with all patients considering bariatric surgery to ensure they know the risks as well as the potential outcomes, discuss other options, and assesses the patient’s physical well-being to help determine eligibility.

However, as a basic criterion, in order to be considered for surgery, the patient must have a Body Mass Index (BMI) of 40 or higher, or 35 or higher for those who have obesity-related medical problems. Once that is established, other factors will be considered.

For more, please refer to the OBN website:


Patients for either surgical or medical services must be referred by their primary care provider (family doctor, walk-in clinic doctor, or nurse practitioner) through the Ontario Bariatric Registry. This centralized system improves the care of patients with obesity and streamlines the process.

For more information:

Your Role

Patients play an important part in any weight loss program. Your success will depend on your commitment to lifestyle changes, whether you are considering bariatric surgery or a non-surgical approach to weight loss.

For those considering bariatric surgery, you will also undergo several tests to ensure that you are safe and ready for surgery. You also must attend 2 education classes. The first orientation class describes the bariatric program and the expectations that you will need to meet. If you are booked to have surgery, you will also attend a pre-surgical class that further prepares you for your operation and educates you about the post operative dietary regime.

The good news is that you don’t have to do it alone. The interprofessional team at the Regional Bariatric Care Centre will be sensitive to your needs and assist you in any way that we can to help you meet your goals in a supportive and caring environment.

About Obesity and Northwestern Ontario

Obesity holds no boundaries and it can affect anyone of any age, culture or income bracket. The design and focus of the Care Centre is a step forward for our region in terms of improving our ability to manage obesity and its co-morbidities. Almost one in four struggle with obesity in Northwestern Ontario, which has the second-highest obesity rate of any region in the province.