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Tuesday, Aug 16, 2022
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Food Rehab for Youth

Ahouse nestled in Agoura Hills is the site of a new clinic focused on helping teenage girls with eating disorders. Monte Nido & Affiliates opened Clementine Malibu Lake on Dec. 5. The Malibu-based company owns four other facilities and runs programs at eight hospitals, but the Agoura Hills location represents its first clinic dedicated to the youth market. The facility is a two story five-bedroom home located down the street from Monte Nido Malibu, the company’s clinic that has treated eating disorder patients of all ages since 1996. Before deciding on the Agoura Hills location, Monte Nido conducted research on where clients would need eating disorder treatment. The research indicated that there was a higher level of eating disorders in Los Angeles compared to elsewhere. Overall the rate of eating disorders is 2.7 percent of the population between the ages of 13 and 18. According to the Los Angeles Times, a study conducted by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention in 2016 found that the teenage girls from the Los Angeles area are 6.1 percent of the rate in eating disorders. “We do a lot of due diligence in examining where would be the next right place to open a program. We were very thoughtful and conscientious about what are the needs in Southern California for an adolescent specific program,” said Keesha Amezcua, vice president of clinical programing at Clementine. “We feel very comfortable in this area, knowing what the needs are, what the population is, and knowing that there is also no other adolescent program.” Youth market To recruit patients, Clementine works closely with outpatient providers like schools, doctors, therapists and dietitians. The facility works with this referral system after patients are admitted to communicate how the clients are doing and what they will need from their outpatient providers once they leave to attain full recovery. “We never want to market in a flamboyant kind of way,” Amezcua explained. “It’s definitely a sensitive subject, it’s something that we want to be private about. We really have relationships with outpatient providers, that’s often a big source of where we get our referrals from.” Clementine is home to girls ranging from 12 to 17 years old who seek treatment for Bulimia Nervosa, Anorexia Nervosa, Exercise Addiction, and Binge Eating Disorders. Currently the facility has two clients, but can facilitate six. Clementine will be applying for a conditional use permit within the next months to expand its number to 10 clients. The clients live in the home throughout their treatment time. They are given a room shared with another client. The length of stay varies from a minimum of 30 days up to a maximum of about three months, but Amezcua said an individual’s treatment program is determined by the company’s “level” system. “That level system is kind of an objective way to measure a client’s progress through treatment, and how we use that to see how long we think they need to be here,” Amezcua said. “That amount of time actually allows the person to really dig into the issues and do some good work around healthier coping skills and re-establishing weight and absence from behaviors. Then they can be more successful when they leave.” While in treatment, clients receive personalized clinical and nutritional care by nurses, doctors and dietitians. The girls learn to understand their nutritional needs and how to develop better eating habits and how to maintain a healthy relationship with food that includes understanding when they are hungry and full. A typical day also includes activities such as hip-hop dance classes, playing basketball or going on walks. The clients eat three meals and three snacks, with all snacks and meals monitored by staff. In fact, staff members eat with the clients to model healthy food behaviors. This involves showing clients comfort in the kitchen and proper food control. The clients also have free time to do therapeutic sessions and school work. “One of the really special parts about the Clementine program that we didn’t have at our adult program is that there is a school component,” Amezcua said. “We have a teacher on staff with us and five days a week the girls are in school, getting the course work, working with the parents about what is needed so that they don’t have to miss a beat with school because again that can be another barrier for them wanting to seek treatment.” Amezcua would not disclose the cost of treatment, but said Clementine works with insurance companies to ensure anyone who wants to receive treatment isn’t turned away because of low income. A study by national insurance company Aetna found that the cost of eating disorder treatment can range from $500 a day to $2,000 a day, and the average cost for a 30-day stay is around $30,000. “We are really willing to work with people individually about what is their insurance and even out of network, getting single case agreements and really working with their insurance,” Amezcua said. ”We know that finances and costs can be a barrier for people when seeking treatment. We want to try to work with people’s finances as much as possible so that they can get the care they need.” No cell phones When clients check into Clementine, they are asked to give up electronic devices. The facility wants to ensure their clients are disconnected from everything. They will later get access to their electronic devices if the staff feels they have progressed sufficiently. The facility encourages parental or family visits to make sure families are involved in understanding and supporting the client’s recovery. The center has 20 to 30 employees who also work at the Monte Nido facility. Employees range from yoga instructors, chefs, nurses, teachers, dietitians and family therapists. Clementine measures success by looking at data collected from patients at admission and following checkout. The clients also have follow up visits with doctors or treatment providers to collect weight and nutritional data. Parent company Monte Nido has a 10-year outcome study that shows how their level system works. If a client can reach level four, then the rate of full recovery is over 85 percent. Clementine utilizes the same system to measure success with teens. Monte Nido continues to look for other locations apt for expansion, but for now the company is concentrating on seeing how the youth model works. “We hope to continue to provide quality care, continue to maintain the relationship that we have fostered, and continue to serve as many of this population that is in need,” Chief Executive Paul Reed told the Business Journal.

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