Finding the right program is an important decision, and many questions arise when patients are seeking treatment for an eating disorder. Below are some questions we frequently receive from patients and family members.
I believe I/my loved one may have an eating disorder. What should I do?
If you believe you or a loved one may have an eating disorder, it is important to seek help. Eating disorders such as bulimia and anorexia can be devastating, even life-threatening; however, with the proper treatment, recovery is achievable and sustainable. Helpful information about eating disorders can be found on the National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA) website. If you would like to speak with a member of our Admissions team about how we may be able to help, please call us at 609.853.7575 or 1.877.932.8935.
What is the minimum age to enter the program?
We provide treatment for adults, adolescents and children as young as 8 years old who are suffering from anorexia, bulimia and other eating disorders. We have one of the few inpatient programs in the region for children as young as 8 to 11.
According to statistics on the National Eating Disorders Association website
, 42% of first through third grade girls want to be thinner (Collins, 1991), and 81% of 10 year olds are afraid of being fat (Mellin et al., 1991). While most of these children will not develop an eating disorder, some of them may. A commonly cited Mayo Clinic study of 600 patients of all ages found that three percent were prepubescent anorexics. While this is a relatively small number, the impact of eating disorders on this young age group can be devastating.
Our program addresses the needs of these patients, as well as those of teenage and adult patients, as patients seek treatment at many different ages. Many of our groups have been structured to address the specific needs of patients at a particular developmental level. We also tailor individual psychotherapy and family participation to the needs and developmental level of the patients.
How are patients integrated into the program, and how do they interact with one another?
Entering treatment can be a stressful time for many patients. To ease this transition, we provide a welcoming orientation for each patient, including a tour of our facility and an introduction to other patients in the Eating Disorders Unit. Introductions are often made at mealtimes or during community meetings, where patients have time to talk and learn more about one another.
One of the most compelling and special aspects of our program is the support and camaraderie that patients share with one another. This peer-to-peer interaction supports the comprehensive care provided through psychotherapy and various group activities, and plays an integral role in the recovery process.
Our daily schedule includes time where patients can relax, watch television in one of our patient lounges, play games, and participate in other activities with fellow patients who may be experiencing similar feelings and concerns.
Can I use my laptop and phone?
Yes, patients are permitted to bring their laptop and cell phone, as well as other personal items, such as special bedding or photographs. We believe it is important for patients to feel comfortable during their treatment, and we encourage them to bring items from home that will support a sense of security and well-being. While activities related to treatment are scheduled throughout the day, personal time is also allotted. At all times, a registered nurse is available on the unit should a problem or need arise.
Are visitors allowed, and how accessible is the hospital for people who may need to travel from outside of the Plainsboro area?
Visiting time is scheduled every evening on weekdays, and more frequently on the weekends. While a number of our patients are from New Jersey, the majority of our patients come from other states. Our facility is easily accessible, and a number of hotels in the area provide discounted rates for patients’ families who are visiting. For more information on hotel accommodations please call Cathy Lane, Admissions Coordinator, at 609.853.7578. Our staff will work with families who are out of town to accommodate their scheduling needs.
What about schoolwork? I’m afraid my child may fall behind.
Tutoring is provided by certified schoolteachers so that our school-aged students are able to keep up with their studies throughout treatment. Our teaching staff will coordinate with guidance counselors and assist with getting homework lessons as needed.
What if I/my child needs medical care while in the program?
In the unlikely event that one of our patients experiences a medical condition while being treated for an eating disorder and needs to be admitted to University Medical Center of Princeton at Plainsboro (UMCPP) as a medical patient, we provide outstanding care in our full-service medical center. If your child requires emergency care, UMCPP's expert, board certified emergency physicians, as well as pediatricians from The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP), are on-site 24/7 to provide consultation whenever it is needed or requested.
How much security does the unit have?
Ensuring the health and safety of our patients is a top priority, and our program is designed with this in mind. The Eating Disorders Unit is located in a separate section of the hospital that is dedicated exclusively to patients with eating disorders and staff members on that unit. A registered nurse is on-site 24-7, supported by physicians and many other professional staff members who provide regular oversight and care. As with many schools, there is a dedicated and controlled point of entry into the unit to keep patients and staff safe.
Are any religious services available?
Within the medical center, there is a chapel that is supported by the hospital’s Department of Religious Ministries. Chaplains are available to patients, families and friends. They support people from all religious faiths, as well as those without an affiliation.
Can you accommodate a special diet?
Yes, our staff will work with patients to accommodate specific dietary needs, such as kosher or vegetarian diets. Our Executive Chef works regularly with our professional team to support our patients’ nutritional and dietary goals.
If you have a question that is not answered on our website, or if you would like to speak with a member of our professional team, please call us at 609.853.7575 or 1.877.932.8935.