Citizens Medical Center reverses ban on hiring obese people

April 11, 2012 at 9 p.m.
Updated April 11, 2012 at 11:12 p.m.

Citizens Medical Center reversed its policy which prohibited people with a Body Mass Index of more than 35 from employment at the hospital, a hospital spokeswoman said Wednesday.

Spokeswoman Shannon Spree declined to comment further and said no one else from Citizens would comment either.

Victoria County Judge Donald Pozzi also declined to comment about the change in policy, but said the decision was administrative in nature and made completely by hospital personnel. The hospital is owned by Victoria County.

Victoria nutritionist Tim Holcomb said the policy addressed several concerns from a business standpoint. A person with a BMI more than 35 is at higher risk for ailments such as high blood pressure, diabetes - especially Type 2 - and cholesterol problems, he said.

"Sometimes if their BMI is not in normal range, they will be a higher health risk; it will drive health insurance prices up," Holcomb said.

People with a BMI over 35 - considered morbidly obese - set a poor example of health to patients and may be hampered in performing tasks at the hospital because of the physical nature of the work, Holcomb said.

Alex Hernandez, a candidate for the Democratic Party's nomination for state representative in Victoria, said he thinks the decision to change the hiring policy was a good one for the hospital.

"I think as a hospital goes, it puts them into a negative light if they discriminate. Even if it wasn't illegal, the policy was discriminatory," said Hernandez, a lawyer.

For a business whose job it is to treat the residents of Victoria, Hernandez said, it is important for them not to discriminate against members of the public in their hiring process.

"I think reversing that decision was a good step," Hernandez said.



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