ST. LOUIS — Going to the hospital is rarely fun. If you weigh over 300 pounds like Beth Henk, it can be embarrassing. ‘I’ve flipped an exam table - I sat on the end of it and it just flipped up,’ said Henk, whose weight peaked at 745. When her son was born three years ago, ‘I had to sit in the hospital bed the whole time - the hospital’s rocker wouldn’t fit my butt.’ Today Henk helps Barnes-Jewish Hospital in St. Louis find better ways to deal with the growing number of very obese patients, an issue for many U.S. hospitals. Barnes-Jewish is replacing beds and wheelchairs with bigger models, widening doorways, buying larger CT scan machines, even replacing slippers and gowns. Last year, patient care director Colleen Becker decided to check the numbers. She looked at a daily hospital census - about one-third of the 900 patients weighed 350 pounds or more. Startled, Becker checked another date, then another. The numbers were consistent. On some days, half the patients were obese. Some weighed 500 pounds or more. ‘We ran the data again to make sure we weren’t hallucinating,’ Becker said. ‘We weren’t. So […]

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