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Entries in Clinic (3)

Wednesday
Sep072011

Texas Clinic Treats Eating Disorders Like Drug Addiction

ABC News(BUFFALO GAP, Texas) -- Ashley Morgan is in hour three of her daily four-hour workout. She runs on a treadmill in her storage unit, which is locked. She is ashamed to be seen.

The 22-year-old from Abilene, Texas, is so afraid of getting fat, every bite is a battle. Morgan has been bulimic for many years, so what goes down almost automatically comes back up.

"I couldn't keep my snack down, and I had to run to the nearest trash can," she said in an interview on ABC's Nightline.

Twelve hundred miles north, Marco Hernandez, a police officer just outside Detroit, has what seems to be the opposite problem.

"I eat a lot....Things just got out of control. It's kind of like wallowing at the bottom of a pit," he said.

Hernandez and Morgan are about to meet in a little West Texas town called Buffalo Gap. Four others will join them. The six will check into Shades of Hope, an eating disorder clinic, for a week of intensive treatment.

"I will make you a promise....If you will do the things that you're taught to do here this week, there is absolutely zero failure to it," said Tennie McCarty, who founded Shades of Hope out of her kitchen 24 years ago. Then she added, "It is the hardest thing you will ever do in your life."

McCarty is tough, passionate and dedicated to her philosophy that people who eat too much or too little have the same problem. They have an addiction more powerful than addiction to drugs or alcohol. Their problem is not with their stomach – it's with their head.

For the next six days, the six strangers will eat, sleep and live together like a family. The rules are strict: no alcohol, drugs, caffeine, outside food or chewing gum. "It's not a fat farm. And it's not a spa," said McCarty.

What it is a lot closer to drug or alcohol rehab, a field in which McCarty is a licensed counselor.

McCarty has ardent supporters. Others think she's "absolutely nuts," she said.

All six guests are nervous, some about eating too much, others about eating too little. McCarty's rule about eating solves that: No one may leave the table until everyone eats everything on his or plate -- no more, no less.

Every day at Shades begins before dawn. McCarty, 68, leads the four overeaters on a vigorous walk. Back at the house, the two undereaters sit on the couch, forbidden from exercise, which they have a tendency to overdo. Tita, a staff member, keeps them honest.

After the walk, several guests need ice packs for headaches, a result of withdrawal from caffeine.

"It's a good reminder that...there's a strong possiblity that processed sugar affects me like a drug, that caffeine affects me like a drug," said Jim, a guest.

McCarty said this cold turkey experience is "one of the hardest things in the world for an eating disorder person. Some of 'em go through severe detox."

Food and fitness are just two parts of the equation at Shades. The most important part of the day is the group therapy McCarty calls "the work." Each session breaks down what she sees as the psychological aspects of food addiction.

McCarty has them imagine their bodies, then asks partners to trace their actual bodies onto paper. All -- overeaters and undereaters -- imagine themselves as being bigger than they are. McCarty knows this feeling well -- she once weighed almost 300 pounds.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Aug312011

Virginia Legislation May Shut Down Abortion Providers

Keith Brofsky/Photodisc/Thinkstock(RICHMOND, Va.) -- New state board of health regulations issued last Friday lay the groundwork for stricter regulation of abortion providers in Virginia -- a shift in policy that abortion rights advocates feel unjustly targets women's clinics with the intent of limiting women's access to abortions.

According to the new regulations, all abortion clinics and physician offices providing abortions would have to meet specific building and safety requirements -- such as five-foot wide hallways, 250-square-foot operating rooms and specific ventilation systems -- that are normally only required for outpatient hospitals.  Similar regulations were passed by Kansas' legislature earlier this year but have been blocked by a federal judge.

The new rules for Virginia are the product of a law passed this winter that reclassified abortion clinics as hospital facilities. In accordance with the law, the state board of health has formulated specific health and safety regulations for the clinics.  These rules, which are now in preliminary form, will be voted on by the board on Sept. 15 and, if approved, most likely be signed into law by Gov. Bob McDonnell before the year's end.

Though the board of health cites patient safety as its primary motivation for the new laws, women's clinics affected by the new regulations argue that they are being specifically targeted by an anti-abortion rights state government that seeks to regulate abortions out of existence in Virginia.

"My initial reaction to these laws is that Gov. McDonnell is pandering to his political base, not that he's concerned with the medical needs of Virginia's women and their families.  We've been providing safe, up-to-code abortions for over 30 years and these facilities have served us well," says Jill Abbey, who oversees four women's clinics in Virginia that collectively provide about 3,500 abortions each year.

"Colonoscopies, dental surgery, and plastic surgery are much more invasive than the abortions we provide, and they are not being asked to live up to this kind of strict regulation.  That tells you right there that this is not about safety, it's about politics," Abbey says. Under the proposed regulations, she believes that none of her four clinics would be able to operate at this time.

According to Ted Miller, a spokesman for Naral Pro-Choice America, none of the 21 clinics providing abortions currently meet the rigorous standards laid out in the draft regulation.

"Abortion providers are already the most regulated health care providers in the state, and abortion remains one of the safest medical procedures," he said. "They're specifying what fabric can be used on window coverings, the ceiling height, how loud the air conditioning can be. What does this have to do with women's safety?  This has to do with politics."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Aug162011

First US Postpartum Depression Clinic Opens in North Carolina

Photodisc/Thinkstock(CHAPEL HILL, N.C.) -- The dread and sadness felt by some new mothers is usually diagnosed as postpartum depression.  It can not only paralyze a woman, but endanger the life of her newborn.

To that end, the University of North Carolina hospital in Chapel Hill has opened the first U.S. free-standing perinatal psychiatry unit designed to care for women suffering from postpartum depression.

UNC's Perinatal Mood and Anxiety Disorders Program offers those diagnosed with the condition both individual and family therapy sessions since fathers can also be prone to depression with the arrival of a new child.

Mothers who are hospitalized can continue breastfeeding and pumping milk and visit their infants so as to establish a routine that can be used once they are released from care.

While the program at UNC is brand new, it has already gotten a huge response from other medical personnel across the country who are asking how they too can start specialized clinics to treat mothers with postpartum depression.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio