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Safety, dignity for obese patients

Bariatric, or obese, patients are an increasing population of Americans adults. Adult obesity rates are on the rise. Oregon ranks the 35th most obese state, and the rate is increasing, just as it is nationwide. The statistics are altering how hospitals and their staff care for obese patients. And heavier patients have forced changes in equipment in emergency rooms, ambulances and scanning departments.

For Legacy Mount Hood Medical Center in Gresham, a nod to obese patients came in a larger MRI imaging system, with a 70-centimeter, or 27.6-inch, diameter bore -- 7 inches wider than the opening on the previous 10-year-old machine. The MRI table holds up to 550 pounds. "You have to have a bore that's big enough to fit bariatric patients," says William Staat, MRI technologist at Mount Hood. He says the hospital purchased a machine last year partly because of the increasing number of bariatric patients.

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