Gaps in Eating-Disorder Care

By Kusch, Larry | Winnipeg Free Press, January 31, 2013 | Go to article overview

Gaps in Eating-Disorder Care


Kusch, Larry, Winnipeg Free Press


Long waits in Winnipeg; patients must eat meat

Last fall, when the wait for treatment at an eating-disorder program operated by the Women's Health Clinic was as long as 18 months, a private facility that boards patients in Brandon was sitting empty.

And while there are no huge waits to get into either the in-patient or outpatient eating-disorder programs at Health Sciences Centre, HSC does not accommodate patients who are vegan or vegetarian. It requires that they eat meat.

That's causing concern for at least one Winnipeg family who contacted the Free Press recently, concerned about getting help for their vegan daughter, who is in her early 20s.

The woman's mom said the Women's Health Clinic told her last July the earliest her daughter could enrol in the Provincial Eating Disorders Prevention and Recovery Program is this coming September.

She said her daughter was "refused" entry to HSC's in-patient eating-disorder program -- the only publicly funded in-patient program in the province -- because her daughter is vegan.

"You can smoke, but you'll be treated for cancer," said the woman, who asked her name not be used. "But they won't treat my daughter because she won't eat meat."

The Winnipeg mom said she's so worried about her daughter's condition, she is looking at enrolling her in the privately run Westwind Eating Disorder Recovery Centre in Brandon. It charges $1,875 a week. It also accepts patients who are vegetarian or vegan.

Bryan Gusdal, Westwind's director, said his facility seldom has a waiting list. It recently reduced the number of beds it operates to five from eight because of a lack of patients. At one point last fall, it had no patients at all.

"This is ironic. We have a waiting list in Winnipeg, but we were struggling to fill beds last fall," he said.

Westwind has operated since 1998. It takes clients both on an outpatient and in-patient basis. It has accepted patients from the United States and across Canada.

As of Monday, it had three Winnipeg-based patients staying there, including one who is vegetarian. In a few weeks, the Brandon facility is set to take in a young woman from the city who is vegan. Since Manitoba does not fund the clinic, patients must pay the full cost. …

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