Levels of Care

 THC Levels of Care

The Healing Connection houses a partial hospitalization program and intensive outpatient program, but there are a variety of treatment settings and levels of care. It is not uncommon for patients to enter treatment at one level of care and move to more or less intensive settings depending on changes in symptom severity. Determining the proper duration and level of care can be overwhelming for patients and their loved ones, and treatment selection may depend on:

  • Severity and duration of the eating disorder
  • Co-existing psychological or medical disorders
  • Insurance coverage and financial resources available for treatment costs not covered by insurance

Learning the terminology may be helpful when navigating insurance claims and medical consultations. The following information is intended as a resource only; treatment selection should be discussed in consultation with a healthcare professional. Our intake coordinator can conduct an initial phone screening to determine whether The Healing Connection program is the appropriate level of care for you or your loved one. If not, we will work with you to find alternative treatment options.

The following list briefly describes common eating disorder treatment setting types and the criteria for care as recommended by the American Psychiatric Association (APA) and the National Eating Disorder Association (NEDA). All treatment decisions should be made with the guidance of a health care professional.

Inpatient Hospitalization
Inpatient treatment offers the highest level of structure and supervision for medically and/or psychiatrically unstable patients requiring 24-hour access to clinical support. Inpatient programs are typically affiliated with a hospital and may or may not be designated for treating eating disorders only. Inpatient is recommended when the patient is medically and/or psychiatrically unstable as determined by:

  • Unstable vital signs
  • Laboratory findings presenting acute health risk
  • Complications due to coexisting medical issues (e.g. diabetes)
  • Rapidly worsening symptoms
  • Suicidal and unable to contract for safety

In residential treatment, patients remain on site rather than returning home on evenings and weekends. This intensive treatment option typically provides a range of on-site care including psychotherapy, nutritional counseling, meal supervision, and medical care as needed. Residential care is appropriate when:

  • Patient is medically stable and requires no intensive medical intervention
  • Patient is psychiatrically impaired and unable to respond to partial hospital or outpatient treatment
  • Friends and/or family may be unable to provide social support
  • Less structured treatment options are too far away

Partial Hospitalization (PHP)
Partial hospitalization programs (also known as "day" or "full-day" outpatient care) provide structure and support to patients for a set number of hours each day. These programs typically provide therapy, nutritional counseling, supervised meals, and psychopharmacological management. On evenings and weekends, patients return to their homes or to a lodging option.  Partial hospitalization is appropriate for patients who are medically and psychiatrically stable but:

  • Eating disorder impairs functioning, though without immediate risk
  • Patient needs daily assessment of physiologic and mental status
  • Patient is unable to function in normal social, educational, or vocational situations
  • Patient engages in daily binge eating, purging, fasting or very limited food intake, or other unhealthy weight control techniques

Intensive Outpatient (IOP)
Intensive Outpatient (IOP) treatment is a step-up from basic outpatient care and often serves as a transition from more intensive treatment levels. IOP programs typically include several hours of therapeutic and nutritional support on set days throughout the week. Patients travel to the facility while living at home. IOP is appropriate in cases where:

  • Patient is medically stable and no longer needs daily medical monitoring
  • Patient is psychiatrically stable and has symptoms under sufficient control to be able to function in normal social, educational, or vocational situations and continue to make progress in recovery

Outpatient care is the least intensive level of care. In an outpatient setting, patients live at home and attend scheduled treatment sessions with therapists, dieticians, primary care providers, psychiatrists, and therapy groups or support groups, when regionally available. Outpatient care is the least structured treatment type and is only recommended in cases where:

  • Patient is medically and psychiatrically stable without need for medical monitoring
  • Patient is capable of self-monitoring symptoms and maintaining a healthy weight
  • Patient has an intact support system and safe home environment
  • Patient is within commuting distance to outpatient facility