Fighting eating disorders, struggling for treatment

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Washington, D.C. -- A clutter of medicine bottles and weekly visits to the ER is how Deena Watin passes the time in her new home in Ithaca, New York.
Now she is fighting for treatment.
Treatment for an eating disorder she has spent twenty years battling.
Now doctors are labeling her a lost cause.

“It breaks my heart everytime I am taken to the hospital and blow off because people don’t understand the severity of what’s going on,” Deena said.

Her insurance denied her coverage, stating, ‘she failed all previous attempts’ or 'she didn’t meet the weight requirement.’
It’s a story all to common to care providers like Caroline Hodges at the Upstate Eating Disorder Service in Elmira New York.

"It is so hard to fight for yourself a lot of times, especially when the depression is debilitating and you just feel like you’re a lost cause,” Hodges said.

Hodges says eating disorders has the highest mortality rate of any mental illness.
It’s numbers like this that had Deena’s friends reach out to elected officials for help.
New York State Senator Tom O’Mara and his team have tried to appeal her case to insurance.
He says the problem with finding treatment comes back to funding them.

"Like as we saw with the Elmira Psych Center and the attempt to close them down and others across the state is the lack of community resources to deal with these,” O’Mara said.

He says in 2008, New York State had about one million dollars in funding for eating disorder treatment.
In 2015, it’s cut in half.
For Deena, a change is what she needs to get her life back on track.

"Your body only holds on for so long so I don’t know how much longer I have and I don’t want to die from this,” Deena said.

In Washington, some senators have been pushing for legislation like the Anna Westin Act that would ensure eating disorders are treated the same as any other health issue.
Deena will shortly be starting outpatient treatment in Syracuse.
But she also has started a go fund me account to get her into longer term care.
You can find it at
For more information on eating disorders head to

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