Wheeler launches program to address eating disorders, addictions


Wheeler Clinic has launched a new program to provide in-home and outpatient behavioral health therapy for Anthem-enrolled children, adolescents, and young adults at risk of or diagnosed with eating disorders or addictions.

Wheeler’s In-Home Behavioral Health Services – Eating Disorder Program provides a local, in-home alternative to residential eating disorder treatment centers. The program centers on an innovative, evidence-based program for adolescents and young adults, ages 10-24, either at early stages of an emerging anorexia nervosa disorder or diagnosed with anorexia nervosa disorder, including those with accompanying behavioral and emotional needs.

“The program provides an effective approach to intervention at the earliest stages and achieves significantly better treatment outcomes for youth diagnosed with eating disorders than treatment as usual,” said Kim Nelson, LCSW, Vice President of Outpatient and Community-based Services at Wheeler in a press release.

The continuum of substance abuse intervention and treatment services offered by Wheeler has also been expanded to serve Anthem-enrolled families with children and youth ages 9 to 18 who may be at-risk for or who have substance abuse issues. Wheeler’s array of addiction services offer a flexible combination of widely-recognized in-home and outpatient programs, as well as new family intervention services that provide parents/family members with information and strategies on substance abuse and parenting adolescents and encourages age-appropriate parenting skills including monitoring, limit setting, consequences, and motivating youth to get into treatment.

“Wheeler’s noteworthy outcomes, demonstrated capacity to deliver quality, community-based services and extensive experience serving families across Connecticut made this an ideal collaboration,” said Jill Rubin Hummel, president Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield in a press release. “Our projects with Wheeler have been driven by a shared spirit of innovation and a commitment to increasing access to behavioral health services to those most in need throughout the state. We are very excited about supporting Wheeler’s eating disorder and substance use treatment programs as they provide new, evidence-based treatment options for our members, delivered in the home setting, where they are likely to be of most benefit.”

The expanded service array addresses gaps families often experience when concerns arise about a youth or young adult, said the press release. The programs build on the success of another in-home Wheeler service launched in 2013, Intensive In-home Behavioral Services, for Anthem members between the ages 3 and 24 who are at high risk or have a history of emergency department, inpatient and/or residential admissions. The IIBHS program has demonstrated significant reductions in both inpatient utilization and emergency department visits, with a 24 percent lower rate of inpatient admissions in comparison to a control group, said the press release.

“Our successful collaboration with Anthem on in-home services for behavioral health shows us that we can meet the needs of consumers and families through innovative looks at traditional assumptions about how and where care is provided,” said Susan Walkama, LCSW, president and CEO of Wheeler Clinic in a press release.  “The evidence is clear that these treatment modalities work and offer effective options and hope to Connecticut families. We believe these services are a valuable addition to Anthem’s continuum of covered resources.”

These new approaches to care are part of Wheeler’s Centers of Excellence, which provide cutting-edge clinical innovation through the use of evidence-based practices, offer world-class customer care, and provide easy access to a comprehensive array of treatment and recovery services that are culturally, gender-, and age-responsive, said the press release. The Centers of Excellence programs partner with youth and families to yield excellent outcomes and high client satisfaction.