New eating disorders treatment program set to open in metro

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Merriam, KAN. -- Millions of Americans have eating disorders. They are the deadliest mental illnesses. Yet the Kansas City area has not had a hospital treatment program for more than two years. A partial hospitalization program is set to open on December 29. The Eating Disorder Center of Kansas City will provide day treatment for up to a dozen people at a time.

An office building in Merriam will be home to the unique program in our area. Workers are preparing for the opening of the center. It will be run by a Denver company which has a similar program there. People with anorexia, bulimia or compulsive overeating will be at the center six days a week, getting all their meals, nutrition therapy, psychotherapy and medical services there. It's called partial hospitalization.

"So having a partial allows a person to go home in the evenings. They are able to connect with their support system and also able to transition from a higher level of care into their daily life," said Tanja Haaland, program director.

Haaland says there's a waiting list. More than two years ago, Research Medical Center closed its inpatient eating disorders unit and day program, leaving the metro with none.

"We would have to send them to higher levels of care either in Denver or in St. Louis to get that inpatient or residential or even partial level of treatment," said Haaland.

She says the chances of relapsing are lower when treatment is provided close to home. She adds that some people with eating disorder will still need inpatient hospital stays, but the center is capable of taking the sickest patients as long as they're medically stable.

"Helping them move to a better point in their lives," she said.

For more information on the Eating Disorder Center of Kansas City, call 913-945-1277.