Hope and Community in this New World

A person holding the word "hope"

The Emily Program is built on hope.

Hope whispers in a client’s first phone call, its hum beneath any fear or shame. It sets a client on a path of healing, a journey accompanied by others who then help hold that hope. It anchors all of us in a shared commitment to eating disorder treatment and recovery.

And hope keeps us together in uncertain, challenging times.

As we witness the ever-evolving impact of COVID-19, we also witness, firsthand, the extent and power of hope. We see it in our clients prioritizing recovery in this extraordinary situation. Amid the stress and uncertainty that might otherwise have triggered relapse, we see clients strengthening their recovery efforts to keep themselves safe and accountable. We find hope in their willingness to manage symptoms exacerbated by changes in everyday routines, environments, and social activities. It’s in the ways they continue to reach out for support and connect from a distance.

We also see hope in our care teams whose clinical approaches shifted in tandem with the outbreak. Well aware that eating disorders don’t stop in a pandemic, our staff expedited the availability of updated services to support eating disorder recovery in this new world.

Our residential care teams adapted to new protocols and increased safety measures, continuing to provide in-person care to clients in need of 24/7 eating disorder treatment. On top of that, our outpatient care teams pivoted almost entirely to telehealth in incredibly short order. Approximately 2,000 people transitioned to telehealth within a 10-day period.

Our virtual intensive outpatient programs (IOP) and partial hospitalization programs (PHP)/intensive day programs (IDP) were tailor-made for these times, but built on a bedrock of clinical integrity, community, and hope. Based on feedback so far, we’ve been heartened to hear that clients are having a generally positive experience with telehealth. Many clients are, of course, missing the in-person connection that comes with traditional programming, but many are also citing advantages such as receiving care safely in the comfort of their homes or bypassing geographic barriers that may have presented challenges for attending in-person programs. We are excited about our current use of telehealth and its future potential.

It’s also been incredible to see our colleagues continue to be curious and committed to eating disorder education during this time. Our outreach team was able to find hope in technology for professional and community events, shifting many planned in-person meetings to virtual platforms. Participation in our virtual consultation groups, conferences, town halls, and continuing education events demonstrates to us the dedication of these healthcare providers.

We are grateful to be part of a community of clients, families, clinicians, and advocates united by hope and a commitment to health and healing.

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