Local woman’s weight issues preventing her from receiving medical attention
By: HEATHER BOGARD
“People discriminate against me because of my weight. I truly believe I wouldn’t be treated this way if I was not overweight. Apparently, I’m just supposed to sit here and die like I’m not a human being,” says Patricia Hillard. At 49 years of age and over 400 pounds, Hillard is crying out for help. “I never thought at 49 I’d be this big and not be able to walk or have a life. I don’t understand why I can’t get help,” she continues. A native of Houston, Texas, Hillard suffers from several life-threatening conditions, including diabetes, emphysema, manic depression and bi-polar disorder. She has gained weight as a result of the diabetes and her medications. She now suffers from congestive heart failure and has extreme fluid retention in her legs, which makes it difficult for her to walk and sleep. Hillard, who moved to Ville Platte about two-and-a-half years ago, says she desperately needs to see a doctor to adjust her medicines, but no one will help her get to the doctor’s office.
It has been three or four months since Hillard has seen a doctor for treatment because she cannot fit into her daughter’s vehicle, and everywhere she turns, she is refused help and service. She has called the Council on Aging and Acadian Ambulance for rides to the hospital and doctor visits, but has been denied service by both. Arthur Sampson, volunteer coordinator with House of Mercy Home Health, stated Acadian Ambulance didn’t want to pick Hillard up because her doctor refused to sign papers declaring her bedridden. Sampson is determined to get Hillard the help she deserves as a human being and wanted to make her story known. When contacted, Eugene LeBouef with the Council on Aging stated the van’s equipment meets federal guidelines but has limitations on what it can do and it can’t pick her up.
“I wish I would have never moved here. I was never this overweight. I don’t just sit here and eat. I got Type II Diabetes and that made me gain weight.” She says she used to walk and exercise before she started gaining the weight and admits she would like to take control of her life and her weight by having gastric bypass surgery.
Christine Simon with House of Mercy Home Health, Hillard’s caretaker, says she goes to the house every day to check on and take care of Hillard. “God gave me the strength to come every day to take care of her. I never know how its going to be. She can only sleep on her stomach and she can hardly walk. She needs to get out and see the world because she is a good person with a good heart,” Simon proclaims.
“Its scary because I have a friend who died this way. I pray to the good Lord every day to help me,” Hillard says, “I hope someone with a heart will help me. I have feelings and deserve help like everyone else. I can’t just sit here and die because no one will help me.”