A rising number of overweight and obese patients is leading to changes in patient care at Red Deer Regional Hospital Centre.

Hospital feeling effects of obesity

A rising number of overweight and obese patients is leading to changes in patient care at Red Deer Regional Hospital Centre.

A rising number of overweight and obese patients is leading to changes in patient care at Red Deer Regional Hospital Centre.

Rob Swanson, director of medical and surgical in-patient services, said that over the past few years, they’ve noticed more and more patients who need different care because of their weight.

“We’re evaluating a number of different things, from the layout of washrooms to patient care,” said Swanson on Thursday. “With a bariatric patient, we need to know how to most effectively transport them.”

Obesity is a chronic disease that affects about one million Albertans, or approximately 25 per cent of the province’s population, according to Alberta Health Services.

AHS also reports that obesity is the most pervasive, progressive and serious of chronic diseases facing Albertans. It is linked to 22 other chronic diseases, including up to 90 per cent of all Type 2 diabetes, up to 30 per cent of cancers, and 80 per cent of cardiovascular disease.

Swanson said that the hospital must look at everything from larger wheelchairs to stretchers and mobile lifts.

More of these are being added.

“We do have some in the building of each of those types of equipment,” said Swanson. “We do need to look at increasing those to support this population.”

Swanson said that nearly two-thirds of Canada’s adult population is overweight or obese — or 60 per cent. Twenty-six per cent of Canadian children are the same.

According to the Parliament of Canada’s Obesity Epidemic in Canada report, an adult male is considered overweight when his body weight exceeds the maximum desirable weight for his height, and obese when his body weight is 20 per cent or more over this desirable weight. A similar guideline holds true for women, but at a threshold of 25 per cent. Dramatic increases in overweight and obesity among Canadians over the past 30 years have been deemed to constitute an epidemic.

Swanson said the hospital has a bariatric specialty program, both medical and surgical. Bariatrics is the branch of medicine that deals with the causes, prevention and treatment of obesity.

The clinic includes giving clients information on nutrition, physical activity and the like.

Definitely, seeing larger-sized patients is becoming more common at the hospital, according to Swanson.

The bariatric specialty program involves 500 existing patients, including 125 new surgical cases for 2012.

Alberta Health Services is looking at a greater focus on how to better treat obesity.

“It’s a root cause of so many other conditions, like diabetes and cancer and increased cardiovascular risk,” said Swanson.

The key is ensuring that treatment and preventive care involves a multi-disciplinary approach, Swanson added.

“The people who are involved include physical therapists, social workers and psychiatrists,” he said. “Even the volunteers and community supports.”

ltester@bprda.wpengine.com

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