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Experts say more eating disorder resources needed

SCRANTON, LACKAWANNA COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) - It's not uncommon to be aware about what you put into your body. But there are some who are silently dealing with an unhealthy obsession of proper eating.

"I had such unhealthy perceptions about food, unhealthy perceptions about my body," said Alice Thompson. She is a student at the Geisinger Commonwealth School of Medicine. Thompson quietly battled with the eating disorder - Anorexia Nervosa - as a child in Pittsburgh.

Doctors say people with the illness tend to restrict the number of calories they eat or exercise compulsively. One day, Thompson had a wakeup call. She was hospitalized at just 86 pounds and admitted to an inpatient facility in Pittsburgh.

"It really gave me the ability to open up about what I had been feeling and consider maybe my routines weren't healthy. I needed to be placed outside of that to see it that way," said Thompson.

Here in northeastern Pennsylvania, experts say there are no inpatient facilities for those specifically dealing with eating disorders. Beth Orr's daughter battled with anorexia after her father passed away.

"It was devastating. I've worked in the health field for years, but nothing could have prepared me for this personal experience," said Orr.
    
While Orr says there are inpatient facilities in Philadelphia, her family chose one hours away in Pittsburgh.    Orr now wants to bring attention to the need for services in this area and give a voice to those suffering in silence.

Members of the Behavioral Health Initiative at the school of medicine are working with community leaders to bridge the gap in services.

"The earlier that someone gets diagnosed, the better the success of the recovery," said Terri Lacey with the Behavioral Health Initiative.

Thompson says she's witnessed insurance companies stop covering people in inpatient programs up to a certain point - causing a painful cycle of regression and readmittance.    That drove her to go into health policy. In the meantime she wants others to know there is hope and people who care.


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