British Columbia

B.C. anorexia patient to get treatment in Alberta

A B.C. woman with chronic anorexia nervosa who was discharged from a B.C. treatment program despite failing health has started treatment that could save her life at an Alberta facility, in the wake of a CBC News investigation.
Amber Foster, shown here in healthier times (left) and this year (right), is among a dozen adults with eating disorders who say they were discharged from a B.C. treatment program despite failing health. (CBC)

A woman with chronic anorexia nervosa who was discharged from a B.C. treatment program despite failing health arrived Tuesday at an Alberta hospital she hopes can help her.

Amber Foster, from Comox, B.C., was discharged from an eating disorders treatment program at St. Paul's Hospital in Vancouver, despite weighing only 80 pounds, when she was deemed a chronic case.

Since then Foster, 30, has been accepted into the eating disorders program at University of Alberta Hospital.

The B.C. Ministry of Health confirmed it will cover the cost of Foster's long-term treatment at the Edmonton facility for at least two months.

Foster attributed this action to the CBC News story on her condition, which was published Dec. 1.

Foster, who has been dealing with anorexia nervosa for 18 years, said she felt she was being let out of the B.C. treatment program to die. She said she just wants to lead a normal life and watch her son grow up.

"They had said that I had a lifelong disease, I was chronic, I had to learn to live with it and they were discharging me," Foster told CBC News.

She has already had four heart attacks and three transient ischemic attacks (known as mini strokes).

Foster's treatment in Edmonton will include approximately three months in hospital, followed by a three-month residential program in Edmonton.

The Edmonton program also includes follow-ups in case patients relapse after release.

Dr. Henry Piktel, from the University of Alberta Hospital, said the program's various steps make it unique and are key to recovery.

"I think what makes this program unique is that we actually do provide a seamless transition from inpatient, through day hospital treatment to residential treatment and long into simple outpatient treatment," Piktel said.

CBC News discovered that Foster and at least 12 other adult patients with eating disorders were discharged from the clinic at St. Paul's Hospital despite failing health.

With files from the CBC's Ayesha Bhatty