Which hospitals in your network can handle patients of size? Response – Lose some weight.

A reader writes:

Hey… just wanted to share this response from the Cleveland Clinic when I asked what hospitals in their network would be best equipped to handle a person of my size. “Lose some weight, fatty” is less than helpful.

Requestor message : As a person weighing almost 500 pounds, I have found that I’ve been unable to have certain diagnostic tests at certain hospitals. I would like to have more information about what hospitals in the Cleveland Clinic network are best equipped to handle a patient of my size and weight, should I ever be in a situation where I can choose which hospital to go to. Which hospitals have higher weight capacities on their MRI and CT machines, for example? Thank you!

Dear [redacted]:

Thank you for contacting Cleveland Clinic through our website.

It sounds like you have experienced some frustrating situations in getting tests done and the weight issue. Your question is not a black and white response. There are certain weight limits on many of the machines and many times it is a matter of losing 10-50 pounds when one is around 500 pounds. I have a resource for you. We have a website: https://weightloss.clevelandclinic.org/index.aspx

The phone number here is 1-800-339-8929

Congratulations on taking care of yourself and my best to you as you continue on! Please let us know if there is anything else we can do for you!

Sincerely,
Ann M. Biery RN BSN
WebMail Representative
Cleveland Clinic
http://www.clevelandclinic.org/

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25 Comments

  1. Is it possible *none* of the equipment can handle someone weighing 500lbs? ‘Cause that seems to be what she’s saying between the lines.
    At any rate it’s a horrible answer, or, more accurately, a horrible non-answer!

    Reply
  2. Sarah

     /  October 4, 2010

    How helpful (can you hear the sarcasm?). No wonder fat people are more scared of getting medical help than living with the problem/pain. Because we don’t get help, we get bullshit.

    Interesting enough my city has recently purchased a “bariatric” ambulance, but I don’t know if any of our hospitals can handle us fatties.

    Reply
  3. This doesn’t surprise me since the Cleveland Clinic CEO is the very same guy who said he’d exclude fat employees if it was legal because he didn’t want to pay out for health care for ‘obesity related illnesses’.
    Sarah– my ambulance association also bought a bariatric ambulance with ramps, a winch, and a wider stretcher that is more comfortable for bigger patients. We have a written preplan for people in our service area in excess of 500 pounds so that we can arrive with the right equipment and manpower to get them onboard safely, quickly, and with dignity. (In the past people have been transported in the flatbed of dump trucks, etc.)
    I’d love to be able to advocate for people who are given bullshit answers like that person got. I’d like to get on the phone and snatch that magical weight loss fairy wand out of their hands and smack them with it.
    I shouldn’t rant before coffee.

    Reply
  4. I think the reader should reply to that e-mail, if possible, or write a new one, if necessary, and reiterate that s/he is not asking about weight loss, s/he is asking about which hospitals in network offer facilities to accommodate people of size.

    I recently had a similar frustrating experience with my gyno. We were having two different discussions. I was asking what might be causing certain issues, and she apparently thought I was asking for new fabulous ways to lose weight. Grrr!

    Reply
  5. HillaryGayle

     /  October 4, 2010

    As an RN, BSN, I apologize on behalf of my profession. What a completely unhelpful response. Way to miss the point entirely, Nurse Biery.

    Reply
  6. Zen

     /  October 4, 2010

    That is absolutely infuriating.

    Reply
  7. Amazing! I’m wondering if Biery is trying to “Spin” the fact that they DON’T have facilities or that they don’t KNOW the weight limits for the various facilities/equipment. Way to show the fail.

    Reply
  8. I love, love, love the fact that she responds to ‘where can I find equipment to accommodate my body’ with ‘I’m sorry (not really!), but your body sucks and you need to change it.’

    Reply
  9. I was actually wondering if I should do some research now while I’m happy/healthy and work up some plan for my husband just in case it’s ever needed. Sounds like it will be a difficult thing to gain such info from health “professionals” but worth it? I hope someone/some health entity will step up to the plate and say, “Hey! We have the info you need/want to help!” if not? Then it is truly a sad state of affairs we are living with.

    Reply
  10. My interpretation is that they don’t have any equipment that would fit this person, but she’s trying to sugarcoat that by noting it would “only” take a loss of xxx pounds in order for this patient to be accommodated.

    I think this person should write back and ask for clarification. “Do you have any equipment, anywhere, that could accommodate me if needed at my CURRENT size?”

    Reply
  11. Dominique

     /  October 4, 2010

    Wow, that’s insane. A lady in France has been denied cremation after her death. Her daughter has been answered that NO installation in the whole COUNTRY could work for her mom (250 ish pound lady). No health installations, no death installations, if you don’t fit in the standards you simply don’t exist GRRR.

    Reply
  12. I think you might be overreacting a bit. It sounds to me like there are no machines capable of handling a 500 pound person and she was just trying to be nice about it. jmo

    Reply
  13. Mulberry

     /  October 5, 2010

    Reader –
    Find a hospital that does WLS. Such a place ought to have the requisite sturdy equipment.

    P.S. – Don’t get the surgery.

    Reply
  14. jaed

     /  October 5, 2010

    I’m sure that if you ever break a leg or have some other emergent medical condition that requires imaging, you’ll be happy to wait to have it taken care of until you’ve dropped fifty pounds. Sigh.

    It sounds to me like there are no machines capable of handling a 500 pound person and she was just trying to be nice about it.

    In that case, she should have said so instead of throwing in some fat-shaming obfuscation and hoping the customer would be so bamboozled by this that she wouldn’t notice the question hadn’t been answered.

    Reply
  15. A lady in France has been denied cremation after her death. Her daughter has been answered that NO installation in the whole COUNTRY could work for her mom (250 ish pound lady). No health installations, no death installations, if you don’t fit in the standards you simply don’t exist GRRR.

    Are you serious? Because, that’s a relatively common weight for a tall man. Would they say the same thing if the person in question were a 6′-0″, 250 pound man? That sounds like pure bias.

    Reply
  16. Sarah

     /  October 9, 2010

    It sounds to me like there are no machines capable of handling a 500 pound person and she was just trying to be nice about it. jmo

    Uh, not true. Maybe no machines in the reader’s area, but they DO exist. Plus, I fail to see how losing weight is a “nice” solution to a person who needs an MRI NOW.

    Basha Diagnostics (facility in Metro Detroit, Michigan) has a MRI that can hold up to 550 pounds. Michigan State University also has open MRI technology for bigger patients.

    Reply
  17. A nice response would be “You know, I’m sorry that we don’t have any equipment that can accommodate larger patients. That’s really a problem and we’ll look into finding the appropriate equipment.”

    This reminds me of an article I read about how doctors have difficulty in figuring out medication dosages for fat women with breast cancer. The article’s conclusion was that women should just lose weight now in case we get breast cancer later.

    Reply
  18. I was getting a bone density once and was asked to get on a scale next to the machine. I weigh about 250. I said, “I am through getting weighed in this life.” She said, “You might break our table.” (The table was one of those thick steel jobs.) I said, “Which is it–yes or no?” She capitulated. I also was sick with a paralyzed intestine (ow!) and was apologetic to the EMT–he said, “We don’t lift–it’s automatic–don’t even worry about it.” Another time, while in the hosp–they had a bed that weighed me–the bed did! This crap can go too far–and not far enough.

    Reply
  19. There are certain weight limits on many of the machines and many times it is a matter of losing 10-50 pounds when one is around 500 pounds.

    So these big thick tables can break from an extra 10 lbs or is this a run-on sentence referring to the “losing 10% of your weight is fantastic for you” riff?

    Reply
  20. Agreed, the nurse is clearly trying to dance around the issue that they have no equipment that can accommodate this patient (or they are afraid the patient will break it and hope that he will just go away, grrr). I don’t NECESSARILY blame them for not having such equipment (although I feel like there should be at least a 2x safety factor in the design of this stuff and there’s no excuse for it not to be rated for at least 300 lbs) but they should at least not treat the patient like he’s stupid and if they just wave some hocus-pocus in front of his face he’ll end up “grateful” for their non-answer. If you can’t serve someone then SAY SO and apologize instead of hoping you can BS your way into keeping a customer. >:-{

    Reply
  21. Anna

     /  October 15, 2010

    What. The. Fuck.

    “Oh, our equipment can’t help you? Have you tried losing a little weight?”

    Though it is not a perfect analogy, but I feel like this is like “Gosh. Can’t get on our equipment because you have no arms? Have you tried growing some arms? ‘Cause it’s not that anything is wrong with our equipment, or that we should help you. NOPE!”

    Reply
  22. Sorority Luchesi

     /  October 18, 2010

    To be fair, many current medical equipment are not designed to hold people over 300lbs, thus, many medical centers/hospitals do not have equipment that can hold people over that weight. With that said, the medical industry is trying to make more equipment that is designed to hold people over that weight. More of these will probably be installed in the coming decade or so, hopefully.

    The nurse or representative should have been more tactful and have not told the person that he/she should lose weight. The rep should have been more resourceful and look for places that can acommadate people over 300lbs.

    Reply
  23. If her response was “That’s a difficult question to answer” her next response should have been “but I will find out for you”.

    Reply
  24. I call bullshit on the idea that the Cleveland Clinic doesn’t have the equipment for this. It’s one of the best hospitals in the country. I’m also fairly certain they have a bariatrics program. But they are not a fat-friendly hospital by any measure. They’re avoiding the question.

    Reply
  1. Resources for Superfat Folks Looking for Medical Imaging | Kink Praxis

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