Eating Disorder Treatment Center: ACUTE Center for Eating Disorders

Hope. Survival. Recovery.

Life-threatening medical complications from severe eating disorders and malnutrition may require immediate treatment for survival and recovery.

ACUTE Center for Eating Disorders & Severe Malnutrition at Denver Health is the only dedicated medical intensive care unit specifically for patients with extreme forms of eating disorders and severe malnutrition who are severely underweight or who are experiencing urgent medical issues.

  • Treating people of all genders, ages 15 and older (adolescents and adults)
  • The only medical unit in the U.S. to earn a prestigious Center of Excellence designation
  • Inpatient medical stabilization on a private 30-bed telemetry unit
  • Billing the medical health benefit and contracted with most major insurance plans
  • Air-ambulance transport delivering patients safely to the unit in Denver, Colorado
  • Expert medical treatment alleviates or avoids deadly complications of eating disorders
  • Medically supervised refeeding and weight restoration addressing severe malnutrition from advanced illness or infection (organ failure, cancer, nontuberculous mycobacteria (NTM, aka MAI), HIV, etc.)
  • Robust psychiatric and behavioral health support alongside medical care
  • 24/7, 1:1 patient support from Certified Nursing Assistants and Behavioral Health Technicians
  • Additional consultation and care from any relevant specialist in Denver Health Medical Center
  • Social distancing and infection control supported by private patient rooms (with private bathroom) and room-based treatment model
  • Upon medical stabilization, patients return to treatment providers to continue recovery


Learn More at ACUTE.ORG

Dr Mehler Headshot ACUTE Center for Eating Disorders at Denver Health

“There’s a small group of people that have extreme forms of eating disorders, both anorexia and bulimia, who are at major risk of dying if they don't get urgent medical treatment from knowledgeable experts. That's what ACUTE Center for Eating Disorders & Severe Malnutrition at Denver Health provides, and that's why we have an air ambulance service that can get them here within 24 hours.”

- Dr. Philip S. Mehler, Founder and Chief Executive Officer

ACUTE Center for Eating Disorders & Severe Malnutrition at Denver Health

Get life-saving help now. Call (877) 228-8348 for a free, no-obligation assessment or to discuss emergency admission.


Additional ACUTE Center for Eating Disorders Information and Resources 

For Patients

When you’re experiencing life-threatening medical complications from a severe eating disorder, expertise matters and time is of the essence. One call to ACUTE Center for Eating Disorders & Severe Malnutrition and you’re no longer alone—we can provide immediate assessment and compassionate, honest answers to your questions and concerns.

  • Am I dying from my eating disorder?
  • Am I too sick for ACUTE?
  • Am I sick enough for ACUTE?
  • What if I’ve been denied admission by other eating disorder treatment centers?
  • Can ACUTE treat adolescents?
  • Am I too sick to travel to Denver?
  • Will insurance cover my treatment?
  • I don’t have an eating disorder but my Body Mass Index (BMI) is less than 15—can you help me?


For Providers

ACUTE Center for Eating Disorders & Severe Malnutrition at Denver Health is a trusted partner in referral, assessment and medical treatment for the most severe and extreme cases of eating disorders. ACUTE can also safely weight restore patients without eating disorders who have developed severe malnutrition resulting from illness or infection. Often times, these patients must safely gain weight to qualify for a life-saving treatment or surgery.

  • Admission criteria
  • Medical insurance authorization
  • Air-ambulance transfer
  • Ongoing case management and provider engagement
  • Leading-edge proprietary research
  • Professional training and continuing education events



Even in young people and those who are relatively new to their eating disorder, getting expert medical care can be a matter of life or death.

Going to an emergency room or residential eating disorder treatment center (RTC) is not the solution for someone who has medical instability from extreme anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, atypical anorexia nervosa or ARFID. Sadly, most medical doctors, including pediatricians, don’t receive training in treating eating disorders, and they may not recognize certain life-threatening medical symptoms as being linked to malnutrition and purging behaviors.

ACUTE Center for Eating Disorders & Severe Malnutrition at Denver Health offers the highest level of medical care for patients at risk of dying from their severe eating disorder. Our team of world-renowned experts delivers medically supervised weight restoration and nutritional rehabilitation, concurrent treatment for other medical issues, behavioral treatment, skilled rehabilitation and many other individualized services, including spiritual care, pet therapy and specialized care for adolescents.


Safe Refeeding for Severe Malnutrition

ACUTE Center for Eating Disorders & Severe Malnutrition at Denver Health can administer any type of nutrition necessary, including oral, tube, and intravenous feeding, and continuously monitors during the refeeding process to prevent refeeding syndrome, a life-threatening condition marked by complications like edema (swelling), irregular heartbeat, and other serious symptoms.

While safe refeeding and medical stabilization for patients with Body Mass Index (BMI) < 15 is essential in addressing severe anorexia and severe ARFID, it can also be a life-saving intervention for a small subset of individuals without eating disorders. These patients have developed severe malnutrition from advanced illness or disease, including liver failure, nontuberculosis myobacteria infections (NTM, aka MAI), cancer, HIV and other infections. Many patients are told by their providers that they must gain weight to qualify for a life-saving treatment or surgery, a simple directive that can prove extremely difficult when the body is in an advanced state of disease.

ACUTE Center for Eating Disorders & Severe Malnutrition at Denver Health can refeed these severely malnourished patients safely and effectively while simultaneously treating their other medical conditions on the unit, engaging expert specialists as necessary from the larger Denver Health Medical Center. These patients also benefit from physical therapy to build strength and mobility, as well as robust psychological support to address the emotional toll of living with serious illness.


Melanie’s Recovery Story

“After five years of excessive laxative abuse, I was both nervous and ready for the pain of coming off of them. For days, my body swelled up and I developed a condition known as edema. Getting used to my new body was a struggle, but the clinicians and staff at ACUTE made each day more bearable than the last. Everyone was there to help me get better and ensure that a relapse would be unlikely. Each day I found myself getting stronger both mentally and physically – the edema was starting to come off! With the help of ACUTE Center for Eating Disorders Medical Director Philip Mehler, M.D. and the amazing physicians, dieticians, physical therapists, psychologists, psychiatrists and social workers – I was able to tackle the first part of my recovery.”