We are Now ACUTE Center for Eating Disorders & Severe Malnutrition
DENVER, CO – ACUTE Center for Eating Disorders & Severe Malnutrition, the nation’s only designated Center of Excellence for the medical treatment of extreme eating disorders and severe malnutrition, today announced its new name. This important change reflects the addition of an ancillary service line, which utilizes ACUTE’s vast expertise in medically supervised refeeding to treat severely low weight patients whose malnutrition stems from a cause other than an extreme eating disorder. Information about both services lines can be found on the center’s new website, acute.org.
“The science of safe, effective refeeding for the severely low weight patient has many parallels to anorexia nervosa and severe malnutrition from other causes including disease or infection,” explains Dr. Philip S. Mehler, founder and chief executive officer of ACUTE, and professor of medicine at the University of Colorado School of Medicine. “What’s different in the treatment approach is the psychiatric and behavioral care involved. While patients with extreme forms of eating disorders often present with intense psychiatric symptoms and comorbidities, patients with advanced and/or chronic illness have a high prevalence of depression and anxiety related to living with major illness. Our medical and behavioral teams collaborate to meet any patient treatment need, addressing most medical diagnoses and psychiatric issues concurrently. There is no other unit in the U.S. capable of this tandem approach and long-standing excellent patient outcomes.”
While patients with extreme forms of eating disorders often present with intense psychiatric symptoms and comorbidities, patients with advanced and/or chronic illness have a high prevalence of depression and anxiety related to living with major illness. - Dr. Philip S. Mehler, founder and chief executive officer of ACUTE
Non-Eating Disorder Malnutrition
While ACUTE’s primary focus remains to medically treat the most severe forms of eating disorders, the addition of ACUTE’s new service line, for non-eating disorder malnutrition, has come to fruition following a steady stream of inquiries from severely low weight and medically complex patients, whose malnutrition derives from advanced illness or infection. Patients with liver failure, cancer, nontuberculosis myobacteria infections (NTM, aka MAI), HIV and other conditions causing significant wasting, require weight restoration with concurrent expert treatment of their other medical diagnoses in order to meet minimum BMI requirements to begin—or continue—lifesaving treatment or qualify for a necessary surgery. ACUTE’s medical telemetry unit, on the Denver Health Medical Center campus in Denver, Colorado, has acclaimed expertise in refeeding and extensive capabilities to address all medical issues concurrently.
For example, patients with NTM/MAI, a rare lung disease, experience fatigue and lack of appetite alongside other life-interrupting medical complications, which can cause profound and unintended weight loss and muscle wasting. Some of these patients find themselves too low weighted and malnourished to qualify for a potentially life-saving lung resection surgery, the only treatment for advanced cases that do not respond singularly to antibiotics. Due to their advanced catabolic disease state, the patients cannot simply “eat more” or “gain weight”, and some of these malnourished patients are at risk for the deadly refeeding syndrome should they ingest too many calories too quickly in an effort to gain weight. ACUTE has treated several patients with NTM/MAI, simultaneously addressing weight restoration, nutritional rehabilitation, emotional concerns and strength and mobility issues on the unit, while engaging Denver Health’s expert pulmonologists to treat the active lung infection. To better understand malnutrition related to NTM/MAI and how safe weight restoration can help patients, ACUTE previously collaborated closely with the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Pulmonology division and National Jewish Health.
“ACUTE has always maintained a commitment to clinical excellence and rigorous research to keep us on the leading edge of innovation,” adds Dr. Dennis Gibson, MD, CEDS, Medical Director of ACUTE. “The COVID-19 pandemic has created new challenges with regard to accessing life-saving care for so many patients—including those with severe eating disorders and those with malnutrition from other causes—and has reminded providers that we can skillfully pivot within our specialty expertise to meet these emerging treatment needs.”
The new ACUTE website allows healthcare providers and prospective patients and their caregivers to request a free assessment, learn more about ACUTE’s leaders, access motivating patient stories, find research published by ACUTE’s leaders, register for events, and more.
The multidisciplinary care team at ACUTE provides unmatched specialty expertise in these life-threatening situations. In 2019, Mark Vogl sought out ACUTE when other medical providers overlooked the connection between his eating disorder and severe medical consequences relating to malnutrition. “Many of the doctors I saw during this time were focused on fighting the symptoms and health issues caused by my eating disorder and were not trained to see that the root cause of these issues was that my eating disorder was causing severe malnutrition,” Mark stated when discussing his own recovery story. He continues: “I was amazed at how ACUTE provided a customized treatment regimen that was developed to provide me with the best opportunity to succeed.”
ACUTE Center for Eating Disorders & Severe Malnutrition is a 30-bed unit on the campus of Denver Health Medical Center, a nationally ranked academic medical center in Denver, Colorado. ACUTE is the only medical telemetry unit with a Center of Excellence designation from Anthem, signifying its singular capability regarding medical stabilization for severe eating disorders and severe malnutrition. ACUTE’s staff of nearly 300 dedicated medical and behavioral health providers deliver exceptional patient care and contribute to the growing evidence-base related to medical treatment of eating disorder complications and refeeding for severe malnutrition. In 2020 alone, ACUTE’s multidisciplinary experts, often in collaboration with external providers, published 22 scholarly pieces in leading journals including the Cleveland Clinic Journal of Medicine and the American Journal of Medicine.