Patient Care

New Eating Disorders Program to Fill a Void, Bring Hope for the New Year

Jan. 4, 2010
Mary Tantillo, Ph.D., associate professor of clinical nursing

The Healing Connection, LLC, a partial hospitalization program for adults and adolescents battling eating disorders, will open in Fairport in early 2010, providing a much-needed local treatment option.

The program will be run by Mary Tantillo, Ph.D., P.M.H.C.N.S.-B.C., F.A.E.D., director of the Western New York Comprehensive Care Center for Eating Disorders (WNYCCCED), which is based at the University of Rochester School of Nursing. The Healing Connection will be an affiliate of WNYCCCED.

Eating disorders, which affect as many as 11 million people in the country and have the highest mortality rate of any psychiatric disorder, can be treated in various ways depending on severity. Those with the most serious illnesses may require residential or inpatient treatment at a hospital or other 24-hour facility, while others may find that group or individual therapy weekly may be enough to help them stabilize the disorder. Partial hospitalization can be used as a step down when inpatient care is no longer necessary or a step up when patients aren’t responding to outpatient therapy.

“Partial hospitalization can be a lifeline,” said Tantillo. “We know that transitions and continuity of care are critical for these patients and families. The program will offer the support they need and do it within the Rochester community, which has been without a partial hospitalization option since 2008.”

The main intensive treatment approach used with adults in western New York, partial hospitalization is a vital component in the continuum of care for adolescents, said Tantillo. “They can now move seamlessly from eating disorders inpatient treatment at Golisano Children’s Hospital at Strong to residential treatment at Harmony Place at St. Joseph’s Villa and then on to partial hospitalization treatment at The Healing Connection,” she said.

For 35 hours each week, up to 10 patients will be able to visit The Healing Connection for a range of specialized treatments in group and private sessions. The structured program Tantillo has designed is based on the belief that eating disorders are diseases of disconnection and that mutual relationships with others are key to treatment and recovery. Each patient and family will work with a multidisciplinary team of mental health providers to design and implement a comprehensive plan that promotes care after discharge, relapse prevention and successful transition back to day-to-day living. Activities will help patients address eating habits, stabilize their weight, and tackle psychological and behavioral symptoms associated with eating disorders.

“The Healing Connection will provide intensive treatment targeted at regaining and maintaining health in the ‘real world’ by delivering the highest order of services required by each individual patient,” said Richard E. Kreipe, M.D., professor in the Division of Adolescent Medicine in the Department of Pediatrics at Golisano Children’s Hospital at Strong and medical director of WNYCCCED. “The program that Dr. Tantillo has designed represents the model of evidence-based, family-oriented, consumer-driven, individualized services that will become the standard of care in the future.”

The program, which will be open to those ages 12 and older, was licensed by the New York State Office of Mental Health in November. Tantillo now is working to finalize contracts for coverage with insurance providers and arrange for housing for out-of-area adult patients. Out-of-area adolescent patients (ages 12 to 17) and their parents may reside at Ronald McDonald House during treatment at The Healing Connection. Tantillo and her team will work with BOCES and the school districts to arrange tutoring for adolescents.

Those interested in learning more about The Healing Connection, located at Fairport Office Centre, 1387 Fairport Road, Suite 1000D, can call The Healing Connection office manager at (585) 641-0281.