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Inpatient Program

Director: Angela S. Guarda, M.D.
Assistant Director:  Graham W. Redgrave M.D.
Nurse Manager: Kathy Pulia, R.N., M.S
Clinical Nurse Specialist: Allisyn Pletch  R.N. 
Admissions Coordinator: Mary Mesick, M.S.

The Inpatient Program is located on the fourth floor of the Meyer Building of the Johns Hopkins Hospital, which also houses the Adult and the Young Adult Mood Disorders Service. The Program draws on the multidisciplinary expertise of our dedicated Eating Disorders Treatment Team to provide comprehensive and individualized care. The team is staffed by physicians, nurses, social workers, occupational therapists, and nutritionists.

Admission Criteria

  • Severe eating disorder with associated medical complications
  • Unsuccessful outpatient treatment
  • Physician referral for admission and medical records

Learn more about the admissions process and contact information

What can you expect?

If you adhere to your individualized treatment program during and after hospitalization, you can expect restored physical and psychological health. The program will assist you in mastering tools necessary to avoid relapse once you return home. You may feel ambivalent about admission and about pursuing treatment; these feelings are normal. Although treatment can feel difficult initially, recovery has huge rewards and is always possible. As you progress through the program your motivation to change your eating behavior is likely to increase -- even if you are ambivalent about changes at first. Most patients report a sense of mastery and increased confidence in the possibility of a full recovery as they progress through the program. You will use the program best if you bring to it a willingness to work hard and an openness to learn new ways of dealing with your emotions, and then apply principles learned in the program to your life at home. Read comments from patients and families treated in our program

How long will you be in the hospital?

The expected length of stay on the inpatient unit is variable and depends both on your medical condition at admission and on how you progress with treatment. An average inpatient length of stay is two to four weeks but can be shorter or longer depending on individual factors. Once you are ready, you will transition to the Day Hospital (Partial Hospitalization), where the average length of stay is an additional two to three weeks but may be extended or reduced depending on your needs. We work together with you to formulate your treatment goals and to make your stay successful.

Our Treatment Approach

If you have an eating disorder, you and possibly your loved ones are suffering as a result of your complicated relationship with food, weight, shape, and feelings.  Our treatment goal is to assist you in normalizing your eating behavior, to help decrease your preoccupation with food and weight, and to aide you in restoring your weight if it is too low. We will also address any co-occurring medical or psychological conditions or complications of your eating disorder.  An important strength of this program is that it is highly structured and will assist you in regaining control over your eating and your life.

Treatment of Depression and Anxiety
The attending faculty member and team leader is a psychiatrist. Psychiatric symptoms such as depression and anxiety are often experienced by those with an eating disorder and their treatment is important for a full recovery. Group treatment of mood disorders may be recommended. In some cases, psychiatric medication may be helpful to relieve these symptoms. All medications you are currently taking will be reviewed by the attending physician once you are admitted. We may recommend a trial of a new medication or a change in medications after discussion with you. Standard psychological testing designed to help you understand your particular strengths and vulnerabilities when faced with the stresses of living may also be recommended.

Restoration of Function
Eating disorders can consume much of an individual’s time and energy.  This can lead to a decrease in social, academic, or occupational function.  Patients often report feeling stuck or “derailed” by their eating disorder.  You will have the opportunity to work with specially trained occupational therapists on creating appropriate goals, updating resumes, job-seeking and re-entrance into school.  We believe that full recovery from your eating disorder is possible and this includes not having your eating disorder permanently affect the trajectory of your life. 

Group Therapy
Daily group therapy sessions with patients on the unit provide a forum to explore the challenges of coping with an eating disorder and its toll on relationships, work, and emotional life. These meetings provide the opportunity to learn from other patients and decrease the loneliness and isolation that often come with these conditions.  We also offer more structured cognitive-behavioral therapy, family relations, discharge planning, body-image, and stretch and relaxation groups.  In the Day Hospital (Partial Hospitalization Program) you will participate in daily meal preparation and social eating skills groups that include grocery shopping, ordering carry-out meals, and eating in restaurants.

Family Involvement          
Whenever possible, we actively engage loved ones of the affected individual and include them in the treatment team. With adolescent patients we use a Maudsley family therapy approach that includes intensive parent training. We help families assist their child to eat normally and to correct driven eating disorder behaviors. Maudsley therapy was originally developed at the Maudsley Hospital in London and is a family-based treatment shown to be effective for adolescents with eating disorders. A social worker and other team members will work with you and your family to assess the impact of your illness and to help your family support you in your recovery. Family members will be asked to attend a weekly special educational groups and family therapy meetings. Additional meetings will be recommended as part of your treatment as needed.  Parent training is part of the treatment of all adolescent patients.

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