Anorexia nervosa: Our health care colleagues are starving amid COVID-19 pandemic
Myth: Severe eating disorders don’t affect health care providers, or HCPs.
Reality: HCPs can and do suffer from severe eating disorders. COVID-19 and its attendant stressors appear to be exacerbating these issues in some HCPs, who have either recovered from an eating disorder or are living with one now.
In my career, I have cared for more than 100 HCPs with severe eating disorders; after all, the disease tends to impact the best and the brightest minds. In the last year, however, there has been an upward trend in the number of HCPs admitted to the ACUTE Center for Eating Disorders & Severe Malnutrition, a unit I founded at Denver Health Medical Center that is singularly dedicated to providing critical care medical stabilization for patients with the most extreme forms of eating disorders. ACUTE treats patients who are extremely ill, with BMIs less than 13 or less than 70% of their ideal body weight. To underscore just how sick ACUTE’s patients are, last year alone, eight people died from their medical issues as their families were in the final stages of planning travel to ACUTE in Denver. Many patients admit on the brink of death.