St. Luke's University Health Network

Eating Disorders Program

Help with a Complex Condition that
Impacts Daily Life

Eating disorders are complex conditions that can arise from a combination of long-standing behavioral, emotional, psychological, interpersonal and social factors. While eating disorders may begin with preoccupations with food and weight, they are most often about much more than food.

Individuals with eating disorders often use food and the control of food in an attempt to compensate for feelings and emotions that may otherwise seem overwhelming. For some, dieting, binging and purging may begin as a way to cope with painful emotions and to feel in control of one’s life. Ultimately, these behaviors will damage a person’s physical and emotional health, self-esteem and sense of competence and control.

Addressing Medical and Behavioral Aspects
of Eating Disorders

St. Luke's Eating Disorders Program addresses both the medical and behavioral aspects of eating disorders in teenagers age 12 to 18 in a community hospital setting. St. Luke's employs a cognitive behavioral model to address eating disorders in teenagers, where psychotherapists and physicians work collaboratively to assess patients and help them achieve a healthy weight.

This is the only program of its kind in the region and is modeled after a program with leading national outcomes. Families benefit from not having to travel out of town or even out of state for appropriate treatment. This more innovative approach to treating eating disorders contrasts the traditional method of prolonged residential treatment.

Benefits of the Inpatient Pediatric Unit

Teenagers with eating disorders may be admitted to the Inpatient Pediatric Unit at St. Luke's University Hospital-Bethlehem Campus. Sometimes, an outpatient visit with a psychotherapist is the first point of entry into the hospital-based program. Psychotherapists, who specialize in eating disorders, work in concert with pediatricians and nurses to develop the plans of care that encourage healthy behaviors. Privileges may be denied or granted based on the intake of calories and actual weight gain to achieve the minimum healthy weight before discharge becomes possible.

During hospitalization, pediatricians and psychotherapists communicate directly with families to inform them of their child’s heath and progress. Upon discharge, psychotherapy is continued in an outpatient setting. Additionally, patients are required to come for regularly scheduled weigh-ins weekly or bi-weekly to St. Luke's Inpatient Pediatric Unit to ensure adequate weight is maintained.

Pediatrics Department
St. Luke’s University Hospital – Bethlehem Campus
801 Ostrum Street
Bethlehem, PA

St. Luke’s Behavioral Health Services
1107 Eaton Avenue
Bethlehem, PA

(Check with your insurance company about coverage.)

Online Mental Health Resource

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