A wake-up call that worked

Nutritionist Francoise Maillet helps obese patients eat healthy and gain control of their weight at Emory Wesley Woods Center.
Nutritionist Francoise Maillet helps obese patients eat healthy and gain control of their weight at Emory Wesley Woods Center.

 

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At almost 600 pounds, Max Durant was not the largest patient that nutritionist Francoise Maillet had worked with in her career, but he was by far the most motivated.

She was able to start him on pureed and then chewable foods. At the same time, she taught him what and how much he should eat.

Durant had spent much of recent years in a big chair in the house he shared with his brother. Then he had a terrifying episode, with dizziness, confusion, and shortness of breath. It was acute hypercapnic respiratory failure, the doctors later explained. His lungs couldn’t exhale enough carbon dioxide to make room for oxygen. And yes, it was related to his obesity.

He was rushed by ambulance to his local hospital and eventually transferred to Emory Wesley Woods Hospital (EWWH). On a ventilator and feeding tube, he was unable to talk or swallow and could barely nod his head or lift his arm. It took four people to move him into a specially constructed hospital bed.

For Durant, the experience was a wake-up call. At EWWH, he found a team free of judgment and ready to help. Successfully weaned from a ventilator to a breathing tube, Durant mouthed his first words in weeks. After the tube was removed, a speech therapist helped him strengthen his speaking and swallowing muscles. Now Maillet could step up the pace. She had overseen his tube feeding, carefully calibrating nutrition according to his weight, diabetes, hypertension, and other problems. Now, she was able to start him on pureed and then chewable foods. At the same time, she taught him what and how much he should eat. A diabetes educator joined in. As Durant’s strength improved, his physical and occupational therapy became more intense, including helping him relearn how to stand up, take sponge baths, comb his hair, and put on socks. "Mr. Durant was eager to learn and do everything he could," says Maillet.

After three months, Durant went home. More than 100 pounds lighter, he now could get out of bed on his own and use a walker. Thanks to Maillet, he knows how to shop, read nutrition labels, and judge how much food should be on a plate. His family, who also worked with Maillet, is fully on board.

Durant is among a growing number of patients for whom reimbursement falls far short of the actual costs of providing services. In this case, more than $55,000 remained as unreimbursed. But a man once imprisoned in his body has started to break free, and the hospital team counts it as a success.


   
   
 
 

Like Durant, many patients at Emory Wesley Woods Hospital have complex, often overlapping health problems. Many also have exhausted their financial resources. During fiscal year 2012-2013, expenses at Emory Wesley Woods exceeded revenue by $5 million.

 




     
 

Facilities at Emory Wesley Woods Center

  • Emory Wesley Woods Hospital, 100 beds, including psychiatric, rehabilitation, and long-term acute care beds for geriatric and other adult patients
  • Emory Clinic at Wesley Woods, outpatient primary care for geriatric patients
  • Budd Terrace, 250-bed skilled nursing care facility
  • Wesley Woods Towers, 201-unit residential retirement and personal care facility
  • Wesley Woods Health Center (includes Center for Health in Aging, Fuqua Center for Late-Life Depression, geriatric dental services)
 
     

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