Anorexia nervosa and bulumia nervosa affect between five and 10 million
people in the United States (Alzheimer's, by comparision, affect five
million). While it’s a difficult topic for many to think about,
Lindsey Brucker, MD, an adolescent and young adult medicine specialist
at Torrance Memorial Medical Center, comes face-to-face with it every day.
Working with Linda Schack, MD, head of the Medical Stabilization for Patients
with Eating Disorders at Torrance Memorial, Dr. Brucker treats patients
at extremely low weights or who become severely ill due to an eating disorder.
“We medically stabilize our patients, provide them with a dietician
to help with optimizing their nutrition, and provide daily therapy sessions,”
The most common eating disorder seen in the program is anorexia nervosa,
characterized as an obsessive desire to control weight and food intake.
Patients often have a high level of anxiety, and at its worst, patients
can become so severely underweight and depleted of nutrients that refeeding
outside of a hospital is dangerous.
Because of this refeeding danger, Dr. Brucker notes that anorexic patients
are seen most frequently because of their need to be hospitalized for
close monitoring, both physically and mentally. However, Dr. Brucker says
the program also takes care of patients with bulimia nervosa and atypical
eating disorders, which, she explains, are eating disorders that do not
clearly fit under other categories. easily diagnosable eating disorder.
An example might be someone who has oral surgery and develops a fear of
eating solid food, or is unintentionally losing weight.
Dr. Brucker explains that while the program has been in existence for a
few years, Dr. Schack recruited her to expand its scope. With the addition
of Dr. Brucker, who has an internal medicine background, the program can
treat patients up to age 35, and as young as 13.
The Medical Stabilization program is one of the few in the country that
provides comprehensive treatment for patients hospitalized for refeeding.
In addition to Drs. Schack and Brucker, the team includes two psychologists
who are also registered nurses, a gastroenterologist and a master’s
level dietician. “Not many hospitals have that entire package of
individual and family therapy and nutrition education. We even have a
yoga therapist. It’s a privilege to be part of such a unique program,”
Dr. Brucker says. “It’s rewarding to take care of patients
who come in emaciated and very ill, and within a few weeks are not only
feeling better, but also looking forward to recovering.”
For further information contact the office of Linda E. Schack, M.D., Medical
Director, Torrance Memorial Medical Stabilization Program for Patients
with Eating Disorders, at 310-325-4353.