Changes coming to Univ. of Iowa Hospitals Eating Disorder Program

Published: Sep. 2, 2022 at 3:26 PM CDT
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CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG) -Changes are coming to the Eating Disorder Program at University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics. It’s prompted a petition on change.org that’s gathered hundreds of signatures since Thursday.

The petition claims the program is phasing out altogether. Leaders at the University say changes are coming, but there will still be services available for people struggling with eating disorders.

We talked with Sydney Brokaw, a former patient who was in the inpatient program for two months earlier this year. She worries the changes will mean less resources for people than there are already.

”Really saddening, because there’s just a lack of resources as it is. There is constantly a wait list there to get in because there isn’t a lot of beds as it is and for some individuals a wait list is not a possibility,” Brokaw explained.

An eating disorder is the second most deadly mental illness after opioid overdoses according to the National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders.

Current patient April Bannister emailed with TV-9. She said patients were told on Thursday that the inpatient portion of the program is ending.

“As someone who is and has been medically unstable, severely underweight, high-risk, and a complex case, I fear for my life when I am released from inpatient, as I know I cannot be readmitted even if I need the care,” Bannister wrote.

UIHC sent us the following statement Friday evening: “UI Hospitals & Clinics remains committed to providing compassionate specialty care to patients with eating disorders. The Eating Disorders Program will continue providing a range of services for people with eating disorders, including an intensive partial hospitalization program, as well as outpatient services. In addition, people with eating disorders who require acute medical treatment will continue to receive inpatient services at our hospital.

Beginning in fall 2022, UI Hospitals & Clinics is reallocating resources to provide life-saving access to the growing number of Iowans with acute mental health care needs. We will no longer be admitting new patients to the inpatient residential care part of the Eating Disorders program. Patients with eating disorders who have acute care needs will still be admitted to the hospital to receive care from a multi-disciplinary team within one of our behavioral health units. Once patients are stabilized and no longer in need of acute care, they may be referred to community services for ongoing support. These services could include our Eating Disorders partial hospitalization program, our outpatient program, or services provided by another organization.

It is always difficult to decide how to allocate limited resources, and the decision to make changes to the Eating Disorders Program was not made lightly. Overall, this decision will allow UI Health Care to serve the greatest number of Iowans with acute mental health care needs.”