Perth next option for teen's eating disorder treatment

Sarah Rowland . Photo: ODT
Sarah Rowland . Photo: ODT
A Kurow mother who moved to Auckland to access treatment for her daughter's eating disorder has had to travel even further for the specialised help needed.

Sarah Rowland and 14-year-old Jessica are now in Perth in search of the high-level care Jessica's eating disorder needs.

A lack of suitable facilities for a juvenile with a chronic eating disorder in the South resulted in Ms Rowland and Jessica moving to Auckland in December.

However, Jessica was discharged from Starship Hospital's eating disorders unit soon after arrival, as she reached its healthy weight range.

Jessica was still highly resistant to eating and tried to refuse attempts to feed her, Ms Rowland said.

''She needs a higher level of care than the once-weekly hour-long appointment on offer to take over the 24-hour supervision she has been on up until discharge.

''There's no residential facility for her in New Zealand so we were obliged to look overseas.''

Jessica was diagnosed with restrictive anorexia three and a-half years ago, one of the youngest patients with the condition seen at Dunedin Hospital.

Most of her life since has varied between clinics and hospitals and her anorexia has threatened her life several times.

''I've had to leave my other daughter behind with her granddad in New Zealand, which isn't great, and we miss each other,'' Ms Rowland said.

''Much earlier intervention would have prevented this whole situation.''

Jessica is now receiving treatment at Perth Children's Hospital, which offers the programmes and follow-up support for young people with eating disorders.

Ms Rowland hoped the treatment Jessica was receiving would help her reach remission.

Ms Rowland is also still lobbying for a specialist paediatric eating disorder facility to be set up in the South Island, and an online petition addressed to Health Minister David Clark has amassed more than 11,000 signatures.

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