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What began 30 years ago as a revolutionary treatment method, led to the founding of NoTube 10 years ago and now to the establishment of an officially recognized outpatient clinic. In this blog post, you will find the milestones of our evolution!
More than 30 years ago, based on their research in this field at the University Hospital in Graz, Marguerite Dunitz-Scheer and Peter Scheer developed their unique method of helping children with severe eating disorders and tube dependency – the Graz Model. The department of psychosomatic medicine within the hospital at the Medical University of Graz (MUG) became specialized in the ever more frequent cases of feeding and eating behavior disorders, such as tube dependency or picky eating. Whether they were premature, children with heart defects or other congenital malformations, children with developmental delays, children with genetic disorders or after organ transplants or chemotherapy – what they all had in common were eating related problems.Psychosomatic Meets High-tech Medicine
Thanks to the participation of the two head pediatricians in the international task force group for the classification of early childhood disorders (DC 0-3) and the WAIMH, a bridge between international pediatrics and research on the topic of “early childhood eating disorders” had already been established in the 1980’s.
Through the advent of email contact, increasing numbers of parents from all over the world were using the internet to request help for their tube-fed children, and Marguerite Dunitz-Scheer spent many long nights answering their emails.
The Birth of NoTube
The next step for international patients was the founding of the spin off organization, NoTube, as a startup from the Medical University of Graz. In 2009, Marguerite Dunitz-Scheer took on a medical student with whom the first data protected, specialized web platform for online communication with parents. Via this platform, a telemedical diagnostic procedure was introduced, and recommendations for further treatment were offered. Through constant collaboration with parents and onsite medical teams, as well as renowned experts across various specialties, our competence, efficacy, and methods were cultivated and grew, along with our team.
In two scientific studies that followed, this method of “Netcoaching” was proven to be a safe and effective alternative to inpatient treatment. Still today, there is no comparable program through which so many children have been weaned.
In 2012, the “Learn to Eat” program was developed, providing online coaching for children with eating disorders, such as picky eating, infant anorexia, and delays in eating development.
The NoTube “Wandering Circus”
For many years, families had already been coming to Graz from all over the world for treatment, and the NoTube team couldn’t resist the opportunity to indulge its wanderlust. Beginning in 2013, two-week intensive courses for tube dependent children or children with early childhood eating behavior disorders and their family were undertaken in France, Germany, Holland, and Austria. This concept, the so-called “Eating School”, finally did find a permanent home in Graz.
In 2016 and 2017, around 20 intensive courses were held at the first NoTube EAT Campus on Elisabethstraße. It quickly became clear, however, that the Eating School needed more space, and since 2018, the NoTube EAT Campus has made its home on Lenaugasse in Graz.
This fantastic site not only lent itself perfectly to the needs of our ongoing Eating Schools; it also offered everything necessary for establishing an outpatient clinic.
A multitude of bureaucratic procedures for official certification by the medical association and the Styrian state government required renovations and adaptations. The effort paid off and, as if fate had meant for it to happen, on the same day that NoTube celebrated its 10 year anniversary with a summer festival, the 14th of June, 2019, the official notice was delivered: The NoTube EAT Campus is now recognized as an official medical institution. This is the foundation for obtaining contracts with insurance companies and simplifying the coverage of treatment costs for our patients.
What will the Future Bring?
Naturally, we want to help as many children as possible learn to eat, both online and onsite at our outpatient clinic. As a charitable organization, it is one of our main concerns to cooperate with health insurance companies to simplify coverage of treatment for the families who put their trust in us.
It is our firm conviction that from both health economics and ethical perspectives, specialized, child-oriented, and prompt help for medically fragile children with tube dependency, as well as for children with many other highly complex eating behavior problems must be made available.