As Obesity Rises, NJ Hospitals Adapt [AUDIO]
As obesity rises in New Jersey, healthcare facilities are working to accommodate larger patients.
Hospitals in the state are refurbishing their wait rooms, buying larger beds and operating tables, bigger wheelchairs and other equipment to create a safer environment for those that are obese.
"Hospitals have had to invest significantly in special accommodations and equipment to serve this population...it could be everything from oversize beds to lifting equipment to help turn patients safely...even as something as simple as a blood pressure cuff in a larger size" said Kerry McKean-Kelly, a spokesperson at the New Jersey Hospital Association.
She says making those changes is expensive and can drive up healthcare costs overall.
"This affects everyone...all patients in New Jersey, because regardless of if you're overweight or not, you will see the added cost in your bill."
McKean Kelly said its not just the operational challenges, but also the challenge in getting people to a healthy size.
"The real cost is the human cost and the long-term cost of the healthcare system in caring for patients with obesity...these people have many, many health problems and so its more than just losing the weight."
One in four New Jersey adults is obese.
"Its increasingly common and if you look at the demographics and the public health trends, we don't see it going away unfortunately" added McKean-Kelly.