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May 8, 2001

New Eating Disorder Treatment Program Opens in Winnipeg

Today Health Minister Dave Chomiak officially launched a $750,000 new eating disorders program and treatment centre to address the growing number of adolescents suffering from this physically and emotionally debilitating illness.

"This project is a very important component of our proactive health care agenda," said Chomiak. "It focuses on providing treatment for young Manitobans, particularly young women, who suffer from the emotional and physical damage of eating disorders." He also noted that support of this program by Manitoba Health could help reduce the cost of treatment to the families of the adolescents in treatment.

Statistics show that more than 11,000 women in Manitoba between the ages of 14 and 64 suffer from eating disorders such as anorexia nervosa and bulimia. The fatality rate from this condition ranges from 10 to 20 per cent. Research indicates that early intervention improves the prognosis for the young client and, in the long term, can mean a reduction in the cost to Manitoba's health care system.

"Our staff have worked in correspondence with Eating Disorders Association of Manitoba, to make this program a reality," said Dr. Brian Postl, CEO of the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority. "The input of their members who are parents, families and caregivers of adolescents suffering from eating disorders, has been crucial in the development and implementation this program."

The treatment centre will offer both outpatient and day treatment programs, providing intensive treatment and counseling for 10 to 12 teenagers and their families. It is located on the main floor of the Psychiatric Health Building at the Health Sciences Centre and will include counseling and therapy areas, a classroom, activity areas and office space for the treatment team.

"This eating disorder treatment program has been the goal of the Eating Disorders Association of Manitoba and is strongly supported at the grassroots level by its members," said Chomiak. "This association has proven this program is an important and necessary addition to our health care system, and we are proud of the work that has been done to help them to accomplish this goal. This reinforces my belief that Manitobans themselves are one of the best sources of advice and information on health care needs in our province."

"The establishment of the Eating Disorders Adolescent Day Treatment Centre is a critical first step towards a coordinated community approach to treatment, prevention and awareness," said Elaine Stevenson, Vice-President of the Eating Disorders Association of Manitoba (EDAM). "This is an excellent example of the government, the WRHA and the community working in partnership for the benefit of our youth and their families."

"We want this facility to become a centre of excellence and expertise on eating disorders," said Chomiak, who indicated that the staff would be specially trained professionals in this field. "This will be a place where professionals and those who may first come in contact with these kids - school counselors, sport coaches, family doctors - can come for advice. It will also provide treatment for the adolescent and emotional support for the family."

The minister pointed out that this program is a perfect partner to the $125,000 renovations that have recently been approved to the Maryland Street site of the Manitoba Adolescent Treatment Centre (MATC). That site houses the community-based programming for MATC which is largest mental health provider for children in the province.

By renovating unused space to therapy rooms and offices, MATC plans to:

  1. Include a small component of the eating disorders program to provide therapy rooms for a community-based outreach program
  2. Develop space for a neurodevelopmental iniative to work with complex cases
  3. Provide a centralized intake for child and adolescent mental health access for people in Winnipeg

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