Courtesy of ECHN
Rockville General Hospital (Courtesy of ECHN)

Eastern Connecticut Hospital Network has partnered with a Massachusetts psychiatric hospital to open an inpatient clinic at Rockville General Hospital devoted solely to treating eating disorders.

ECHN and Massachusetts-based Walden Behavioral Care LLC announced this week that they have opened the 30-bed Eating Disorders Center at Rockville Hospital. Officials said it is the first unit of its kind in the state, offering inpatient treatment to adults and adolescents who suffer from advanced eating disorders.

“We recognized the need for inpatient treatment for eating disorders in Connecticut, which will enable our residents and those of neighboring states to be treated closer to home,” ECHN President and CEO Peter Karl said in a statement. “This partnership will help so many members of our community to get the level of treatment that they need.”

An open house at the new unit, located at 31 Union St. in Vernon, is planned for 5 to 7 p.m. Thursday.

Nationally, 20 million women and 10 million men suffer from “clinically significant” eating disorders at some point in their lives, according to the National Eating Disorders Association, an advocacy group. Disorders include anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, and binge eating disorder, among others.

Eating disorders often bring other health risks, according to the association, such as high blood pressure, abnormal heart rates, severe dehydration, hair loss, pancreatitis, and other dangers. Individuals with eating disorders also are more likely than the general public to have alcohol and substance abuse issues, suffer from depression or other mood disorders, and develop obsessive-compulsive disorder, according to the group.

According to another advocacy organization, the National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders, an estimated 3.4 percent of Connecticut residents — roughly 122,000 people — are living with eating disorders.

“Eating disorders impact thousands of residents in Connecticut alone, with the highest mortality rate of any psychiatric disorder,” Walden President and CEO Dr. Stuart Koman said in a statement. “We’re honored to partner with the amazing team at ECHN to deliver first-class service and specialized care, opening the doors to boundless possibilities of hope for residents across the region.”

The new unit at Rockville General Hospital treats patients who are age 12 or older, and has separate treatment areas for adolescents and adults. Patients will benefit from a multidisciplinary team of physicians, nurses, therapists, dieticians, and mental health professionals, according to ECHN officials.

This is the second time ECHN and Walden have partnered. Since 2012, Walden has operated a clinic providing outpatient eating disorder treatment at ECHN’s medical office campus in South Windsor. Walden also has a clinic in Guilford.

ECHN is a health care system serving 19 eastern Connecticut towns. Its affiliates include Manchester Memorial Hospital, Woodlake at Tolland Rehabilitation and Nursing Center, Visiting Nurses & Health Services of Connecticut, Eastern Connecticut Cancer Institute, and others.

Walden Behavioral Care is a private psychiatric hospital that treats various disorders, including eating disorders. Walden is the only facility in New England that provides inpatient, residential, partial hospitalization, and intensive outpatient services for people battling eating disorders.