SYRACUSE, N.Y. (WSYR-TV) — After more than a decade of offering intensive treatment to those battling eating disorders, Centre Syracuse discharged its last patient a week ago.
“There is a void being left and we hope that that will be filled,” said Dr. Karen Teelin, Director of Adolescent Medicine and an Associate Professor of Pediatrics at SUNY Upstate.
As a doctor of adolescent medicine for SUNY Upstate, Doctor Karen Teelin has sent many of her patients to Centre Syracuse. Though she is able to treat them medically, many need specialized attention.
“That really helped kids get intense care with psychiatry, nutrition, psychology, and support groups,” Dr. Teelin said.
Patients would visit the facility five days a week spending all day there but they’d go home at night. Now, those struggling with this disease have to travel to Rochester or Elmira for the same care. The founder of Centre Syracuse, Dr. John Wohler, said his decision to close was two-fold.
He wants to retire and said since the Affordable Care Act was signed into law, insurance companies are required to pay for residential treatment, something many of his patients couldn’t afford.
“There has always been a challenge in obtaining insurance coverage for treatment for eating disorders. especially these partial hospitalization programs,” Dr. Teelin said.
The demand for these programs is on the rise and the patients in need are getting younger making a place like Centre Syracuse essential for saving lives.
“For each family that would have benefited from that. They don’t have that treatment locally and they’ll have to travel and it’ll be very very hard on them, economically, and psychologically,” Dr. Teelin said.
There are other resources for patients who need help here in Syracuse. As mentioned, Upstate Hospital does have their pediatric and adolescent center where doctors can offer medical treatment for those with eating disorders. There’s also Ophelia’s Place in Liverpool, which offers support services for those battling the disease.
Dr. Wohler said he still has to tie up some loose ends with the office of mental health by May 15. Once that is done, Centre Syracuse will officially close.