The next step is to become comfortable with eating meals independently in a real world environment, while living in the hospital-affiliated Jefferson House and attending the partial hospitalization program, where the treatment focus shifts to relapse prevention. Close collaboration with other Hopkins Medicine specialists allows Guarda’s team to take on the most medically complex cases, she adds.
“My goal is to set a standard of care for eating disorders, especially intensive treatment,” says Guarda, who has used the support from Stephen and Jean Robinson to publish clinical outcomes research and to conduct pilot studies examining physiological and neurocognitive changes that may contribute to the driven nature of eating disorders. The results of this research then help to inform patient care. The professorship has also supported the hiring of research fellows and the creation of an annual symposium to educate practitioners about properly diagnosing such disorders.
“My husband and I decided to endow the professorship to thank Dr. Guarda and for her to have the resources to do her research,” says Jean Robinson, who credits Guarda as the first physician to fully diagnose and enact an effective treatment plan for her daughter Stephanie, who had developed an eating disorder as a consequence of another medical illness.
Along with financial support, Robinson has organized successful fundraisers and also volunteered with the program, working with a designer to renovate Jefferson House and the outpatient office suite.
“They have nailed the program through research and through implementation,” says Schlehr who has now moved to the partial hospital. “When I go home I actually have a plan to follow. I have hope now. I have hope for my future.”