Private care 'last resort' for some eating disorder patients
No wait list, but 12-week treatment at Westwind costs more than $22K
When the wait is too long, or publicly funded treatments don't fit, some Manitobans who are suffering from eating disorders turn to a large brown house in downtown Brandon.
Westwind Eating Disorder Recovery Centre costs more than $22,000 for three months of treatment, mainly including group and individual therapy.
Patients live in the house and cook their own meals. There is no doctor on site, but there is a walk-in clinic nearby.
Westwind director Bryan Gusdal says his team of therapists takes a collaborative, counselling-based approach.
"You have to work with your clients and you're negotiating each step. Hospitals tend to be a more medical model, which tends to be a more compliance-based 'doctor's orders' type of approach," he said.
For example, Westwind accepts vegans and vegetarians, while the Health Sciences Centre (HSC) in Winnipeg does not.
Dr. Louis Ludwig, director of the HSC's Adult Eating Disorder Program, says research shows a significant proportion of patients with eating disorders use vegan and vegetarian behaviour as a reason to avoid food, and it's all part of their eating disorder.
"Therefore it would be 'enabling' on our part to support that kind of behaviour for patients who are actively trying to recover from their eating disorder," said Ludwig.
Jessica Cuddy, 22, who is currently in treatment at Westwind, says the HSC refused to take her on as a patient because she is a vegan.
Cuddy said she turned to the Women's Health Clinic's out-patient program, but she faced a one-year wait for treatment.
"Vegetarianism is super-common, and it blew my mind when I found out HSC couldn't accommodate that," she said.
Westwind usually treats about two or three patients from Manitoba a year, but Gusdal said they have already treated that many people since January.