Kate did not cry as she began her harrowing story of illness and recovery Thursday night at the open house of the Eating Recovery Center’s new 72-bed Plano facility. The Dallas teen, whose last name was withheld, suffers from anorexia nervosa, and sought treatment in late 2018 at the Eating Recovery Center’s facility in Plano, on the Baylor Scott & White Campus. 

She was 13 when she first developed her eating disorder, Kate recalled to a small crowd of doctors, family and friends.

“Friends, family, and even doctors told me how much I should eat, what I should weigh, what I should look like, and it all started to get to me,” she said.

She was obsessed with her body weight, and the attention she received from losing pounds only encouraged her to lose more. She was reaching a breaking point.

“Then I came to ERC,” she said. “And it wasn’t what I thought it would be.” 

The Eating Recovery Center, a national health care system dedicated to the treatment of eating disorders, will be opening its 100,000-square foot facility in late January, mere minutes from the Shops at Legacy and Legacy West. This new location is a response to the growing demand for eating disorder treatment in Texas, and the Plano facility will be the largest ERC hospital in the country. 

At the open house Thursday night, Kate’s speech addressed the community she discovered during her ERC treatment. “I made friends there,” she said. “Real, authentic friends.”

And she started to recover, thanks in part to the availability of group counseling, one-on-one therapy and the comprehensive inpatient care available at ERC. 

“We do it for people like Kate,” said Dr. Stephanie Setliff, the psychiatrist who is helping open the Plano hospital. 

Setliff pointed out that the hospital will offer a variety of treatment plans for Collin County residents, including inpatient, outpatient and residential levels of care for children, adolescents and adults. 

“There is a massive problem with eating disorders in this region, and the problem is mostly understood,” Setliff said. “It’s a mental, biological and social problem, and it takes a comprehensive approach.” 

Setliff said the system’s existing Plano hospital is “overflowing,” and there is a waitlist, which prompted them to open this new facility. 

ERC appears devoted to making this treatment affordable. The out-of-pocket cost for each patient varies based on their insurance plan terms. “Our founder’s mission since inception has been to enable access and limit out-of-pocket costs for patients and their families,” ERC spokesperson Megan Mulcahy wrote via email. “We are proud that only 4% of our funding comes directly from patients today.” 

After Kate’s speech, open house attendees were enraptured by Kate, by the expansive hospital, and by the lofty expectations that come with the new facility ERC doctors and administrators say Collin County desperately needs. 

Kate said ERC gave her hope for a brighter future. 

“I thought it would be super rigid and structured,” she said. “But it was fun. Getting better was fun.” 

The new Eating Recovery Center opens in Plano in late January at a date to be determined. Learn more at eatingrecoverycenter.com

Tyler Hicks

Tyler Hicks is a freelance writer based in Dallas. He has written for The Dallas Morning News, American Way, the Dallas Observer and several other publications.