Inpatient Services for Patients with Eating Disorders
Eating Disorder Inpatient Unit: specialized care for kids and teens
A peek inside a patient room in the Eating Disorder Inpatient Unit at
Children's Hospital Colorado.
The Eating Disorder Inpatient Unit is an innovative compliment to our continuum of care; it is specialized to meet the needs of kids and teens with eating disorders. The unit can accommodate seven patients in five private rooms and one semi-private room. Patients participate in the Eating Disorder Day Treatment Program and continue to receive individual and family therapy, nutrition therapy, medical monitoring and psychiatric assessment.
Inpatient Medical Unit: care for medically unstable patients
A patient with an eating disorder who is not medically stable is admitted to the Inpatient Medical Unit at Children's Hospital Colorado. Some causes of medical instability include:
- Abnormal electrolyte levels
- Significant weight loss
- Low heart rate
- Frequent binging and purging
A team of specialists from Adolescent Medicine and the Eating Disorder Program works together to care for the child, adolescent or teen. Inpatient medical care includes 24-hour cardiac monitoring, bed rest and carefully increasing caloric intake to minimize the risk of medical complications, including refeeding syndrome (a metabolic problem that can happen to patients who are starved or severely malnourished).
Medical interventions include monitoring blood chemistry and addressing medical conditions associated with the refeeding process, which is a medically complex time. A child/adolescent psychiatrist also does an assessment on the patient that includes coordinating a treatment plan and considering medications that may help with recovery. The goal of hospitalization is to achieve medical stability and evaluate further treatment needs.
Additional program components for hospitalized patients
A registered dietician from the Eating Disorder Program meets with parents to explain the role of nutrition therapy during medical care. Parents work with the dietician on meal planning and begin to learn about meal support and supervision.
Meal time can be difficult for kids and teens with an eating disorder like anorexia or bulimia. Our nursing staff provides supervision and support as patients work to normalize eating patterns and work through anxiety related to food and weight.
Individual and family therapy
Individual and family therapy is an integral part of all levels of care. The frequency and type of therapy are based on a patient’s medical stability, age and readiness to make changes.
Body image assessment
Our therapeutic recreation/child life specialist works with patients to address issues related to body image. Body mapping and other activities help provide insight into the patient’s body image distortion.
Transition from the inpatient medical environment
As a patient's medical stability improves, treatment is focused toward continued recovery. Our recommendations for care are based on the unique needs of the patient and the family. After hospitalization in the medical unit, many patients move to the inpatient Eating Disorder Unit or the Day Treatment Program on their course to recovery.