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Patients left without care, providers in fear after mass departure at Dell Children's clinic

Nineteen-year-old Rebecca said the hospital did not notify her. Now she may have to go out of town to find an eating disorder specialist.

AUSTIN, Texas — Some patients at Dell Children's Adolescent Medicine clinic are scrambling to find care following the departure of doctors, a week after Attorney General Ken Paxton started investigating gender-transitioning procedures at the clinic.

Right now, Texas patients and Texas politics are clashing in a dangerous way. 

"I've had my eating disorder for roughly 10 years of my life," Rebecca said. 

Nineteen-year-old Rebecca is now in recovery thanks to her team of providers, including her eating disorder specialist at the Dell Children's Adolescent Medicine clinic.

"She and I definitely formed a relationship because I saw her monthly," Rebecca said. "Now we don't, I don't have that. It was just stripped away from me without any notice."

Rebecca said on Friday she read online that doctors at the Adolescent Medicine clinic suddenly "departed" a week after Paxton started investigating to uncover whether the center had performed gender-transitioning procedures – care that has nothing to do with Rebecca's disorder and care the hospital said in an April 28 statement it doesn't provide.

A hospital spokesperson wrote in a Saturday statement, "We are working with our staff, families and other providers to ensure our patients' safety and make sure we are helping families connect with the appropriate health care services." 

But Rebecca said the clinic didn't offer another eating disorder specialist. 

"They told me that there weren't really any referrals that they had for me," Rebecca said. "So I was looking on my own at other specialists for my condition, and the closest one was Dallas and San Antonio."

She was on a six-month waitlist to become a patient of her recent doctor, so finding another will be challenging. 

Providers outside of Dell Children's, like speech therapist Tallulah Breslin, are worried. She specializes in gender- and identity-affirming voice modification, and speech therapy is listed as gender-affirming care in Paxton's request to examine.

"There are no rules or regulations against providing speech therapy for training somebody's voice," Breslin said. "Not allowing people to train their voice for gender-affirming care is like saying, 'Well, you can't take piano lessons because we're not going to like the song that you're going to play when you know how to play the piano.'" 

Breslin owns Harmonic Speech Therapy and has already had to get a license in other states after some of her transgender patients left last year after Paxton said providing gender-affirming care to kids is abuse.

"I'm concerned about people being harmed directly when they can't get care," Breslin said. "I'm concerned about mental health outcomes being worse." 

There is still a lot of confusion about whether the doctors will return or be replaced, but Rebecca hopes she doesn't relapse in the meantime.

"Hopefully, I can find someone else, whether I have to drive a few hours to see a doctor or maybe wait on a waitlist," she said. 

KVUE contacted Dell Children's to clarify how or why the doctors departed. We haven't heard back yet.

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