Plight of the Clinically Severe Obese: Challenges Mount with Healthcare Services, Career Advancement and Social Bigotry

Centers for Obesity Related Illness (CORI) address co-morbidity health issues,

as well as those that impact quality of life

Mar 15, 2005, 00:00 ET from Centers for Obesity Related Illness

    BANNOCKBURN, Ill., March 15 /PRNewswire/ -- For individuals 80-100 pounds
 above their ideal weight or with a Body Mass Index (BMI) over 40, daily
 challenges of accessing healthcare services, fighting job discrimination or
 dealing with social bias compound the medical problems associated with
 clinically severe obesity.
     "Weight prejudice is genuine bias," states Alan Bernstein, M.D., M.P.H.,
 F.A.A.P., Chief Medical Officer of CORI. "Our team helps thousands of morbidly
 obese people with weight loss surgery and weight management, and while our
 primary focus is to address medical problems and co-morbid conditions, we also
 listen to and deal with the everyday challenges of the obese."
     Patients visiting CORI report that access to healthcare services poses
 repeated barriers including scales that cannot register high weight levels,
 skimpy patient gowns, inadequate examination tables and wheel chairs, or blood
 pressure cuffs that are not large enough to accommodate the upper arm.
     "I didn't anticipate that a hospital would have problems accommodating my
 weight," says Rheba Saunders, who recently had weight loss surgery and is
 using her restored energy level to keep up with two active youngsters.
 "During the birth of my daughter two years ago, I experienced complications
 related to the size of the anesthesiology tubes.  I switched hospitals before
 my son was born seven months ago.  That facility was more attuned to the
 special needs of clinically severe obese women, scheduling meetings with me,
 my obstetrician and the anesthesiologist before delivery to avoid the risks
 associated with obesity."
     According to Dr. Bernstein, Rheba's experience is not unique. "Every
 aspect of an obese person's medical care, including diagnosis and treatment,
 may be compromised because of size, and anything that we can do to alleviate
 or eliminate these factors is a high priority," says Dr. Bernstein.
     During the process of evaluating obese patients for surgical weight loss
 and explaining the options, CORI's multi-disciplinary professional team also
 acts as a sounding board and resource for driving quality-of-life
     Clinically severe obesity impacts workplace recognition and job
 promotions, too.  Dr. Bernstein says many patients are humiliated by the
 attitudes of colleagues and superiors, especially when business success and
 overall capabilities are linked with svelte, physically appealing bodies.  In
 the work setting, patients also complain about tight chairs, constrictive work
 cubicles, confining hallways and tiny rest rooms.
     Dr. Bernstein notes that the CORI team of professionals, which includes a
 psychological counselor, assists patients in addressing these situations and
 overcoming barriers to success.
     Dennis Tiede, who has lost more than 150 pounds since his weight loss
 surgery in September 2003, knows this situation all too well. "My weight
 seriously affected my self esteem and my ability to adequately do my job,"
 explains Tiede.  "I understand why my boss might have chosen to overlook me
 for advancement, especially since I saw no future for myself in the company.
 Now, with my health restored, I am confident that I can again contribute
 professionally.  Others recognize these changes, too.  I've had three
 promotions in the past nine months, tripling my income.  Today, I'm in a
 management position, entrusted with an $8 million business and the livelihood
 of 42 employees."
     CORI acknowledges that psychosocial problems are also devastating to the
 clinically severe obese, with many individuals expressing frustration with
 social interaction as well as the quality and quantity of social contacts
 within the family, among friends and in the community.  These issues spill
 over into mood disorders and mental well-being, with obese individuals
 expressing extreme distress with their overall quality of life.
     Ms. Saunders recalls a painful social memory, a situation she hadn't
 expected. "After two hours waiting in line at Six Flags(R) with my friends, I
 was terribly embarrassed when I couldn't fit on the ride. The attendant had me
 move aside, and I had to watch them all go on without me," says Saunders.  "My
 friends and everyone around me knew what happened and why.  It was really
     Dr. Bernstein adds, "For all these reasons, our team approach to obesity
 includes not only an experienced bariatric surgeon, but also professionals who
 offer a supportive program that includes educational, nutritional,
 psychological and medical counseling.  We are a hands-on, working team that
 continues to follow our patients' progress over the long term."
     CORI sponsors free health and info sessions in conjunction with acute care
 hospitals that are sensitive to the special needs of the clinically severe
 obese.  Call 800-578-CORI (2674) or visit for
 program dates and locations.
     About CORI
     CORI Centers are operated by MSO Medical, Inc. with its corporate office
 located in Bannockburn, Illinois (Chicago suburb).  MSO Medical contracts with
 acute care hospitals to establish Bariatric Surgery Centers of Excellence
 under the brand name CORI (Centers for Obesity Related Illness).  CORI has
 established centers in Illinois, Michigan, and New York. For more information,
 call 800-578-CORI (2674) or visit

SOURCE Centers for Obesity Related Illness