Hartford Courant
August 2016

VERNON — A treatment center for people with eating disorders is to open in Rockville General Hospital, officials announced Monday.

Set to open on Aug. 8, the 30-bed unit will be the first inpatient facility in the state dedicated to treating anorexia, bulimia and binge-eating disorder, Eastern Connecticut Health Network spokeswoman Nina Kruse said. ECHN, Rockville General’s parent company, will run the center in partnership with Walden Behavioral Care, a Massachusetts-based private psychiatric hospital that treats eating and psychiatric disorders.

About 122,000 Connecticut residents, 3.4 percent of the population, suffer from eating disorders, which have the highest mortality rate of any psychiatric disorder, according to the National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders.

“We recognized the need for inpatient treatment for eating disorders in Connecticut, which will enable our residents and those of neighboring states to be treated closer to home,” ECHN President and CEO Peter Karl said.

Most patients will stay in the center for 7-14 days, Walden spokeswoman Kristin Brawn said. The staff’s first goal will be to medically stabilize adolescent and adult patients, restoring weight, heart rates and levels of essential minerals such as potassium, Brawn said.

Staff members also will focus on helping patients get through meals and snacks, she said. A typical daily schedule is available at Walden’s website, waldeneatingdisorders.com.

The new hospital unit cost about $5 million, including furniture, fixtures and equipment, Kruse said. New staff positions include a program director, nurses, dietitians, therapists and administrators. All of ECHN’s managed care health insurance payers along with Medicare and Medicaid reimburse for inpatient eating disorder care, she said.

Walden also runs eating disorder clinics in Guilford and in South Windsor on ECHN’s medical office campus on Tamarack Avenue. The company also has plans to open a group home for eating disorder patients in Manchester.

The town’s zoning board of appeals in January 2015 approved the use of the former Cheney family mansion at 48 Hartford Road as a residential treatment facility. Walden will focus on opening the group home after the inpatient center at Rockville General opens, Brawn said Monday.