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University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics to end inpatient eating disorder care

A former patient shared with Local 5 about why this program, one of the only resources in Iowa that provides rehabilitation care, is so important for those in need.

IOWA CITY, Iowa — The University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics is set to make some changes to their Eating Disorder Program this fall.

These changes have motivated some Iowans to create a petition claiming the university is phasing the program out completely. The "Save the Eating Disorder Program" petition currently has over 6,500 signatures.

The program says it will continue to offer a wide range of services for those who are struggling with an eating disorder, but there are changes to come. 

Beginning this fall, the program will no longer be admitting new patients to the inpatient residential care sector of the eating disorders program.

Instead, resources will be relocated to provide access to the growing number of Iowans with a acute mental health care needs.

Sydney Janssen, a former patient of the program, said these changes are worrisome because this program is one of the only resources in Iowa that provides rehabilitation care.

"It was really important. That was the only option in Iowa at the time and still is," Janssen said. "So it, it does kind of make me sad and concerned that they're phasing out essentially the program."

While only part of the program will end, the hospital will still be providing care for those in need. UIHC sent a statement to Local 5 that reads, in part: 

"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."

Janssen said she has been to three states to find the right care for her. She said that the more treatment options, the better, since different strategies work for everyone. 

That diversity in healing is what makes accessibility to programs like this so important for Iowans, said Janssen. 

"I know people who see like therapy there, which obviously that's nice. I mean, when there's no treatment options — maybe even like a step down program — like partial hospital program," she said.

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