The Manitoba government is investing $1.1-million to expand eating disorder programs at Health Sciences Centre Winnipeg, as well as create a safe nutrition clinic for people living with eating disorders.
“Eating disorders such as anorexia nervosa, bulimia and binge-eating are the number one cause of death among all mental illnesses,” said Health, Seniors and Active Living Minister Cameron Friesen. “This investment will decrease wait times for treatment and keep individuals close to their support networks in Manitoba, while receiving care.”
The minister noted the VIRGO report identified the need for additional eating disorder services in Manitoba. The investments will include:
- increasing inpatients beds to five beds from three at Health Sciences Centre Winnipeg,
- creating a safe nutrition clinic that provides meal supports for inpatients or those receiving care in the community,
- expanding outpatient program capacity, and
- improving programming for co-existing eating disorder and substance use disorder patients.
“This government is committed to supporting Manitobans and their families struggling with eating disorders,” the minister said. “Today’s announcement will allow more Manitobans to access services that before could not be accessed due to excessive wait times for treatment.”
“The care and treatment of eating disorders requires a dedicated and specialized team that is able to intervene early and effectively with patients who require inpatient treatment and those whose care can be managed in the community,” said Dr. Louis Ludwig, medical director, Adult Eating Disorders Program at Health Sciences Centre Winnipeg. “This investment in additional inpatient beds and a new nutrition clinic are expected to shorten wait times for entry into our programs, reduce the length of stay for some inpatients and may eliminate the need for some patients to be admitted with these additional supports available on an outpatient basis.”
This funding will reduce the wait times of inpatient care to one to two weeks from two to 10 weeks and outpatient care to two to three weeks from four to six months. The funding will also allow money previously allocated to send Manitobans out of province to be reinvested on supports in Manitoba. In the first six months of 2019, over $500,000 was spent on five patients to be sent out of province for care.
“Nearly one million Canadians live with a diagnosable eating disorder and millions more struggle with food and weight preoccupation,” said Elaine Stevenson, co-founder of the Alyssa Stevenson Eating Disorder Memorial Trust. “The initiatives announced today by this government will significantly address the urgent need for access to timely, comprehensive and specialized treatment.”
Today’s announcement is one in a series of the Manitoba government’s investments to meet better the needs of Manitobans struggling with mental health and addiction concerns.
“Since last fall, we have invested more than $38 million to improve access to mental health and addictions treatment and care,” said Friesen. “Today’s announcement supports those investments and will help us ensure we’re able to provide the right care, in the right place, at the right time for Manitobans.”