On Sunday, April 19, a Rhode Island man weighing over 1,000 pounds was transported by a flatbed truck eight miles down I-95 from Providence to his new residence in Cranston. The entire process took about seven hours.
Brian Butler had been living in Bannister House, a nursing home that had announced earlier in April that they were closing due to being $2 million in debt. Butler and all the other patients had to be moved to different facilities, but Butler’s move required a concerted effort.
The Providence and Cranston Fire Departments, Lifespan, the Hospital Association of Rhode Island and Bay Crane Northeast all cooperated to transport Butler to the Eleanor Slater Hospital in Cranston.
The plan to move Butler was started weeks in advance, according to Michael Raia of the Rhode Island Executive Office of Health & Human Services.
“This is a patient with very complicated medical needs and this required a coordinated approach across state government,” Raia told NBC 10 News in regards to Butler. “His care and his safety has been our priority throughout this transport.”
Butler has struggled with overeating and depression for nearly 10 years. He tried to get gastric bypass surgery, but said he couldn’t find a doctor to perform the surgery.
The use of flatbed trucks to move extremely large people is not new in the United States. In 2009, the Associated Press published a story about a panicked ambulance crew in Topeka, Kansas, that struggled to transport a critically ill patient who weighed more than 1,000 pounds and could not fit inside the ambulance. The crew suggested a forklift and flatbed truck, which was used successfully.
The average woman in the United States weighs 166.2 pounds and the average man weighs 195.5, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. However, there are still plenty of people with emergency medical needs specific to being obese. The growing effort to modify ambulances and other equipment such as hospital beds, wheelchairs, walkers and commodes addresses those needs.
While Butler’s move was a challenge, he arrived safely at Eleanor Slater Hospital where Raia said Butler will receive the care he needs.