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This next topic is a tough one.  I put it in my queue to discuss several weeks ago and have been sitting on it.  There are easier topics to discuss today; fecal covered eggs anyone?  How about a recent study that shows smoking menthol cigarettes is bad for you, worse than regular cigarettes… that’s good news for someone right?

Citizens Medical Center in Victoria, Texas; has initiated a policy of refusing to hire anyone with a body mass index of more than 35.  Essentially the CEO, David Brown, feels that his patients (customers) expect an atmosphere of health.  Mr. Brown states: … an employees physique should fit with a representational image or specific mental projection of the job of a healthcare professional, including an appearance free from distraction for hospital patients.

I admit I am torn here.  Revisiting my post from yesterday, Big Mac’s in the Cleveland Clinic; I felt that a hospital has a responsibility to promote a healthy environment and to use every opportunity to portray that image to patients, guests & staff.  (Which does not include a McDonalds in the lobby.)


Lets divert for a second and go a little deeper.  According to a new study by researchers at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, physicians with a normal body mass index were more likely than overweight doctors to engage their obese patients in weight loss discussions.

Come on Ian, quit skirting the issue.

Hospital A:  Skinny people, no McDonalds and a hiring policy that discriminates the overweight

Hospital B:  Melting Pot of employees, McDonalds in the lobby.  No discrimination. 

Long pause… thinking…

Time for another diversion.  Picture the greatest heart surgeon in the world.  She is renowned world-wide for her prowess in the operating room.  Patients travel far and wide to be at the receiving end of her scalpel.  She gets in the OR at 7am and leaves after her rounds at 8pm, everyday for years.  She does not have time to work out, she grabs a Big Mac and fries in the cafeteria… and rushes back to saving lives.  She is obese.  Would you want her as your surgeon?  Or to put it another way; would you dispel her services because of her weight?

If you were rushed to the hospital for an emergency operation would you care in any fashion what BMI the staff had?

I have an issue with discrimination.  Does that CEO allow people to smoke?  Does he know if his staff consists of alcoholics or drug abusers?  How about if they owe money to the IRS?  Just because a person has the correct BMI does not imply they are any better of a person than a high BMI.

For most of us the hospital is the last stop.  For most of us the hospital has nothing to do with Prevention.  It has everything to do with immediate results that rely on surgical intervention to relieve life threatening symptoms.  We are rolled in on a gurney and then, we hope, rolled out to our loved ones.  It is only after we leave a hospital that we have the opportunity to prevent this occurrence.

SO, I have to disagree with my prior stance on this subject.  A hospital is not in the business to promote Prevention.  They are in the business to fix problems and move on.  A hospital is concerned with the efficient and consistent delivery of services.  Very similar to an Auto Center.  You have a flat tire, they fix it… I cannot remember ever getting a lecture about nail avoidance.

Where I would expect to see weight discrimination is in locations that deal with Prevention, the locations that are in the business of Rehab or Nutrition.  This discrimination would be more along the lines of credibility with the consumer.  No one hires an overweight personal trainer.

Perhaps an overweight Doctor is in a much better position to relate with a patient dealing with the symptoms of obesity.  Perhaps not.

In the grand scheme; it is your own personal responsibility to take care of yourself.  Fat, skinny, short, tall; no one is going to do a better job of improving your well-being than yourself.