Two Denver Psychiatrists Opening Inpatient Center for Eating Disorders
October 23, 2008
Friday, September 26, 2008
Two Denver psychiatrists opening inpatient center for eating disorders
Denver Business Journal - by Bob Mook
Kathleen Lavine | Business Journal
Dr. Kenneth Weiner, medical director of the Eating Recovery Center, in the dining room of the new inpatient facility.
With eating disorders on the rise in the United States, two local psychiatrists are opening Colorado’s first inpatient eating disorders hospital for adults.
Called the Eating Recovery Center, the $4 million, 25,000-square-foot site will staff 40 employees to treat patients diagnosed with anorexia, bulimia and other eating disorders.
The center will open in the first week of October with 12 beds, but could accommodate up to 24 beds in the future, said Dr. Kenneth Weiner, one of two physician owners of the hospital. His partner is Dr. Emmett Bishop, also a certified psychiatrist.
Weiner credited Bob Minkin, president and CEO of Saint Joseph Hospital, for making the rapid development of the inpatient hospital possible. Minkin agreed to lease the entire fifth floor of the hospital’s multispecialty center at 1830 Franklin St. to the Eating Recovery Center.
Weiner said Minkin envisions the building as more than a location for medical tenants, but also as a place for “centers of excellence.”
Saint Joseph’s building also houses a satellite clinic for The Children’s Hospital and a specialty orthopedic hospital under construction.
Weiner, who has been treating eating disorders for 25 years, said many more Coloradans with eating disorders will be able to afford treatment at the new hospital because of a new Colorado law that expands the type of mental health disorders that health insurers are required to cover.
While the new law could help make the Eating Recovery Center financially feasible, Weiner said it’s also the right thing to do.
“Anorexia is just as inheritable as schizophrenia and bipolar disorder,” he said. “It’s got the highest death rate of any psychiatric diagnosis, and that’s why we need this facility.”
Some insurers opposed the new law until the language was refined to exclude out-of-state treatment centers and experimental treatments (such as equestrian therapy) for eating disorders.
Weiner expects the new hospital will draw patients from all over the Rocky Mountain region.
Competition in Colorado’s eating disorders industry is limited. The Children’s Hospital has an inpatient eating disorder program for people under 21. Boulder’s La Luna Center LLC and the Eating Disorders Center of Denver (where Weiner once served as medical director) offer outpatient programs.
Toni Saiber, executive director of Denver’s Eating Disorders Foundation, a nonprofit dedicated to preventing and eliminating eating disorders, said the Eating Recovery Center “fills a void that’s long overdue.”
Saiber, who suffered from an eating disorder until she underwent treatment six years ago, said the new center is so state of the art, the outpatient centers may need to make changes to remain competitive.
She applauded the new hospital’s design, which includes spa-like bathrooms. The center offers yoga classes, massages and a high-end kitchen.
It’s unknown if all insurance companies will reimburse patients for such amenities, Saiber said.
She said despite the new law, insurance companies still are determining how sick someone needs to be before they’re treated for an eating disorder.
But Saiber said she’s optimistic that attitudes about treating eating disorders may be changing.
“We’re starting to see a change in medicine across the spectrum,” she said. “Research has shown that stress contributes to heart disease, so we may be entering an era where a massage is covered [by insurers].”
Verne Singleton, CEO of the Eating Disorders Center of Denver, said it’s “too early to tell” if the new hospital will have any effect on other eating disorder centers in Colorado.
Singleton said his center didn’t anticipate making any changes because of the new hospital.
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