For the several hundred who read the blog about the nurse who stopped the epidural procedure on my girlfriend Lissa earlier this week, I wanted to give you a quick update. If you haven’t read the original blog, you can find it here.
So, the doctor from the pain management office has filed a grievance with the hospital, and has rescheduled the procedure at another location in the hospital system, a location that he typically does not work out of, simply because he felt horrible about what happened. This man was the most compassionate of the bunch, and kudos to him and his office for their efforts.
Here is a copy of a letter that is being sent to the director of the hospital that Lissa and I penned.
401 Route 73 North
Lake Center Bldg. 50, Suite 401
Marlton, NJ 08053
Attn: Gary Long
Dear Mr. Long.
I am writing to relate an experience to you that I had at your Berlin location on Wednesday, February 15th.
I was scheduled for an epidural procedure that day at 1:30 pm, which was booked by Virtua Pain and Spine Specialists, specifically Dr, Benjamin Duckels. His office called the Berlin location to find out what the weight limits for your tables are, and was told by one of the staff members that they would accommodate up to 500 lbs. I weigh approximately 417 lbs.
When I arrived, I was checked in and sent to a room to change to prepare for the procedure. I put a gown on, and was then greeted by an anesthesiologist, and right after, Dr. Duckels. They then left the room. As I was getting ready, the Charge Nurse, whose name is Chris Davis entered the room and identified herself.
She then said that she needed to speak with me, and said “Ms. McClain, you know you are 417 lbs, correct?” I answered yes, and she then said “You are too obese to be on the surgical table.”
I was shocked and horrified. All I could say was “Excuse me?”, and she responded by saying that I might as well put my clothes back on, as I wouldn’t be getting my procedure done here today”
After that, she shook her head and said “A woman as pretty as you are, I certainly wouldn’t have guessed that you weighed that much”.
She opened the curtain, and Dr. Duckels and the anesthesiologist had come back in, and asked Nurse Davis what the problem was. She told them that the table was only rated to 400 lbs. and that since I was 417, it was in everyone’s best interests to find somewhere else to get the procedure done.
Dr. Duckels then indicated that he had performed work on patients far larger than I was, and that he was going to proceed. Nurse Davis then said “I’ve made my decision, and this procedure will not be done here today”.
After she said that, she left, and the anesthesiologist followed her out. Dr. Duckels stayed with me at that point, as I was crying. I wasn’t crying because I was fat, I’m fully aware of my weight. I was crying because of how I was treated. Dr. Duckels did his best to console me, and said his office was told in advance that the weight limit his office was told was clearly higher, and told me it was his intention to file a grievance with the hospital. He knew I was in pain, and promised that he’d get me into another location for this procedure as soon as possible. I called my boyfriend to pick me up, which was less than 30 minutes after he’d dropped me off, and had to cancel an appointment to return to get me.
After Dr. Duckels left, Nurse Davis returned, tossed an envelope at the foot of the bed, and said this was the least that she could do. I walked out of the hospital crying, and wouldn’t say a word to my boyfriend until we were far away from the hospital, because had I told him what took place, he would have surely returned and caused quite a scene, which I didn’t want for everyone’s sake.
When we got home, I opened the envelope that Nurse Davis had left, and inside were gift cards to Starbucks and Cold Stone Creamery. Again, I was horrified, as she’d just told me that I was too obese to get on the table, yet she could hand me a card for food!
As a fat woman, I put up with a lot of bigotry and prejudice on a daily basis. I get called horrible names by people on the street, and things that get said to me on the outside would likely make you cringe. In spite of that, I handle myself well. For someone to bring me to tears the way Nurse Davis did is reprehensible. There is no excuse in the medical profession for anyone to talk to any patient in that manner. I also hold the hospital responsible for giving the wrong weight information to Dr. Duckels’ office. I would have not been subjected to the humiliation that I got had someone at the hospital given the proper information to his office prior to the procedure.
My boyfriend (who is not obese) is an active member of NAAFA, and works diligently for size acceptance, something that Nurse Davis needs to be schooled in. He’s already written a blog on the internet describing my experience, and upon the suggestion of some people in his community, wants me to consult with an attorney to discuss my rights.
I wanted to contact your office first, in an effort to resolve this amicably, before it escalated.
First, I want a written apology from the hospital for my experience.
Second, I want Nurse Chris Davis to apologize to me for the way I was treated (IN PERSON), in a meeting with me and my boyfriend.
Third, I want the hospital to consider enrolling Nurse Davis in a program that will assist her in dealing with patients in a more compassionate and understanding manner. If she doesn’t know how to deal with fat people, there are staff members of NAAFA (National Association to Advance Fat Acceptance) who could assist in this. In fact, you may want to consider a NAAFA seminar to discuss with all hospital personnel on how to deal with obese patients.
Please respond within 10 days of receiving this letter, otherwise I will seek counsel and take any actions necessary to protect my interests in this matter.
Very truly yours,
Lissa Price McClain
We both want to thank the many people who have been so supportive and empathetic after hearing what happened. I promise that we will keep updating so that you can see any progress that’s been made.