Many people who suffer from eating disorders don’t realize how sick they are and the medical complications they can present.
International lecturer and author Dr. Jennifer Gaudiani and University of Rochester School of Nursing professor Dr. Mary Tantillo discussed the condition Friday during News 8 at Sunrise.
Dr. Gaudiani recently published the book Sick Enough: A Guide to the Medical Complications of Eating Disorders. “One of the features of eating disorders is that while people may be seriously ill and even have a risk for death, part of the mental illness means that they don’t believe that they’re sick enough to make changes and to seek help,” she explained. “Amazingly enough, many people don’t realize that eating disorders carry the highest death rate of any psychiatric illness, and they may have problems that are related to slow heart rate, low blood pressure, fragile bones, even including having bones of a 70 or 80 year old in a 20 year old person. It effects people of all genders, all body shapes and sizes. Digestive tracts can become influenced. All of these medical problems can really be dangerous and an impediment to recovery.”
Dr. Tantillo has more than 30 years of experience providing care and support to patients and families coping with eating disorders. “There’s no one face of an eating disorder and unfortunately providers and the lay public don’t realize this,” she said. “There’s a lot of shame and secrecy that go along with eating disorders so the illness itself doesn’t want the patient to let anybody know that they’re sick.”
From a treatment standpoint, there is help in our community. “The main eating disorder facility in town is called The Healing Connection, and that’s a psychiatric service. And then the Children’s Hospital has eating disorder services for pediatrics. The Western New York Comprehensive Care Center, which is a collaboration of the Children’s Hospital and the School of Nursing at the U of R offers all kinds of services that aren’t insured. So treatment is insured, but things like life coaching, parent peer mentoring, peer mentoring education, Project Echo – which is tele-mentoring, education for people in 30 counties – all of that is Western New York and your tax dollars support that.”
Dr. Gaudiani will deliver a lecture this afternoon, Friday, January 18 at 1:00 p.m. at the University of Rochester Medical Center in the Class of ’62 Auditorium. The event is free and open to patients, families and providers. “I’m going to be doing a full tour of everything that can happen physically to the body as a result of all of the eating disorders as well as bringing a real social justice lens to the field in order for us to understand the diversity of people affected by eating disorders.”
Dr. Gaudiani will also be training the nursing and medical staff in a new unit at URMC dedicated to providing adults who have medical problems like eating disorders.
For those planning to attend, validated parking is available in Saunders Research Building Visitor Parking Lot. For more information about today’s lecture call (585) 276-6102, or visit son.rochester.edu.
To get a copy of Dr. Gaudiani’s book, Sick Enough: A Guide to the Medical Complications of Eating Disorders, search Amazon or go to sickenough.com.