Today, my girlfriend Lissa headed to Virtua Hospital in Berlin, NJ for a procedure called an epidural, which was supposed to provide some pain relief for several bulging discs in her back. Lis is a strong girl, but the pain was a bit too much, and her doctor recommended the procedure to her.
So of course there are some basic info that needed to be sent to the hospital prior to the procedure, and the standard battery of height, weight, blood pressure, etc, were all done in the doctors office. Let me add that her doctor has been at the very least fat tolerant. So when his office called to schedule her procedure, she was told that she needed to head to the Virtual Hospital in Berlin rather than their Washington Township location, because the tables in Washington Township could only accommodate to 300 lbs. So, the appointment was set for today, and Lissa went to the hospital at around 1 pm for the procedure.
She was taken inside, put in a hospital gown, and prepped for the epidural. The doctor and anesthesiologist were both in with her, when someone who identified herself as the “Charge Nurse” arrived and asked to speak with Lissa, and advised her that “she was too obese to be on the table” where the procedure was to take place.
Lissa looked up and said “Excuse me?”, to which the nurse replied that the table would only accommodate to 400 lbs, but that she was over by 17 pounds. At that point the nurse said to her “You’re so pretty, I didn’t think you weighed that much!”
Lis began to cry, and both the anesthesiologist and doctor asked the nurse to reconsider allowing the procedure, since they had performed procedures on patients there who weighed more than Lissa. The nurse answered by saying “No, I’ve made my decision, and this procedure won’t take place here”. The anesthesiologist left, but the doctor was extremely apologetic to Lissa, saying he was sorry, and had no idea that this was going to happen, otherwise he would never had allowed the procedure to take place at that location. Even the duty nurse was apologizing to Lissa for how it was handled.
The charge nurse then returned, and threw an envelope at the end of the bed, and said “here, we’re sorry we wasted your time today”, and left. Lissa opened the envelope, and inside were gift cards to Starbucks and Cold Stone Creamery. She called me, and I picked her up, not knowing until we were far away from the hospital what happened.
So, what’s wrong with this story?
Simple, the conclusion. Now that might take a while, but let’s just say that chapter 2 started first with Lissa calling the staff manager at the hospital to tell them what happened. Let’s just say that she was very receptive to her comments, as this staff manager just so happened to be plus sized herself. This blog will also be part of Chapter 2.
So, here is what I see was done wrong.
First, the doctor’s office should have known the weight limits of the table at this hospital. They knew that the Washington Township location was ill equipped to handle the procedure, so they called the Berlin location, and were told that the limit was 500 lbs. By the way, Virtua has another location in Marlton, NJ where bariatric surgery is performed, so of course their tables can accommodate the super fat.
Second, bariatric surgery is performed at the Berlin location. That said, are those surgeries only being performed on people under 400 lbs? I see, so it’s just cosmetic weight loss surgery. If you’re reeeeeeeeeelllllllllly fat, you can go to hell, right?
Let’s discuss the charge nurse. EVERYTHING is wrong here. Her attitude, the decision to stop the procedure over 17 lbs, in order to protect “the table”, her comment about being pretty and not thinking she weighed that much (did you all know that only ugly people are fat?), and then throwing a fatty a couple of food gift cards in an effort to shut her up were all things that the hospital will have to address now. How about her refusal to listen to both the anesthesiologist and the doctor, who have both performed procedures with fat people at this place in the past.
It was all malicious, and in my opinion, meant to cause shame to Lissa, and bully her into losing weight.
Part of what they had NO idea of is that Lissa has worked hard over the past 18 months to become healthier. When we first met back in June of 2010, she weighed over 450 pounds. Today, at 417, she feels better, her blood pressure, sugar and counts are all very normal. She is trending positively, and would surely fit the HAES approach for fat women.
So, there’s the first part of the saga. Lissa has had similar problems at another hospital about 8-9 months ago, but had some other personal issues which took precedence over filing complaints, and never moved on making the hospital accountable for their actions.
Not this time.
More to come.