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 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 qualify for bariatric surgery as an option. This includes care before and after surgery, counselling and surgical services. Although most surgeries take place at the Health Sciences Centre, certain complex patients may be referred to a partner program in Southern Ontario.

Medical Services

The RBCC also provides a non-surgical program for those who cannot or choose not to have surgery. This is an intensive 26-week group counselling and meal replacement program. This service is designed to help people lose weight and prevent or delay conditions related to having obesity such as diabetes, cardiac problems, cancer and other diseases and medical conditions. Patients also experience an improvement in their mobility, and improved quality of life.

Your Care Team

The care team at the RBCC includes the following clinicians: Internal Medicine Physicians, Bariatric Surgeons, Nurse Practitioner, Registered Dietitians, Registered Nurse, Registered Social Worker, Psychologist, Registered Kinesiologist, Clerks and Program Manager. They work together with your primary care provider to manage your health throughout your journey with the RBCC.

What to Expect

Surgical Services

Patients referred for surgery will attend an orientation to learn more about the surgical process. The next step is meeting with an internal medicine doctor, registered dietitian and psychologist to learn more about your health and lifestyle. There will be lots of 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(s) to record the answers. You are welcome to bring a friend or loved one to your appointment(s).

Before you are approved for surgery, you will undergo a number of tests to help ensure your safety during surgery. Tests include blood tests, ECG (electrocardiogram), and sleep screen. In some cases you may need additional tests. These may include abdominal ultrasounds, cardiac imaging, cardiac stress test, endoscopy, colonoscopy, sleep study and lung function tests. You will also meet with the bariatric surgeon, who will decide if you are a surgical candidate, review risks, and obtain consent for surgery.

Each patient who proceeds to surgery attends a pre-surgical education class with a Registered Dietitian and will meet with a Registered Nurse. This will further prepare you for the surgery and the changes after. Patients are followed frequently in the first year after surgery. Patients can expect to visit the RBCC 10-12 times before and after surgery (up to 1 year after).

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

Medical Services

Those who are referred for or choose the Medical Weight Management Program will first attend an orientation to learn more about what’s required. The next step is meeting the Nurse Practitioner who will determine if you are a candidate. Participants will meet for group counselling at the RBCC once per week for 26 weeks (6 months). You will learn new skills to help you make healthier lifestyle choices that will lead to long-term weight loss. Meal replacement is also part of this program. Participants are encouraged to ask questions and to support one another during these sessions. Individual support and counselling is provided as needed.

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

Am I Eligible?

Bariatric surgery is a life-altering procedure, and is usually not reversible. For that reason, the RBCC speaks with all patients to ensure they know the risks as well as the potential outcomes, discuss other options, and assesses the patient’s physical and emotional readiness to determine eligibility.

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 this is established, other factors will be considered.

To be eligible for the Medical Program, patients must have a BMI of 35 or higher, or 30 or higher with specific medical problems (as determined by your physician and bariatric Nurse Practitioner)
Medical eligibility is determined by the RBCC’s internal medical doctor or nurse practitioner.

For more information, please refer to the OBN website: and select “Patient Information”


Patients for either surgical or medical services must be referred by their primary care provider (Family 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, visit: and select “Referring Physicians”.

Patient’s Role

Patients play an important part in any weight loss program. Your success will depend on your commitment to lifestyle changes.

The good news is that you don’t have to do it alone. The team at the RBCC 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 is a chronic disease that can affect anyone of any age, culture or income bracket. One in four struggle with obesity in Northwestern Ontario, which has the second –highest obesity rate of any region in the province.

The design and focus of the RBCC is a step forward for our region in terms of improving our ability to manage obesity and it’s health conditions.