People vs. Profits: What Matters to Eating Disorder Centers?

Friday, Dec 02  •  


As anyone who’s been affected by an eating disorder knows, recovery doesn’t come easily. Eating disorders are widely considered some of the most challenging mental illnesses to treat due to the complex set of circumstances and underlying conditions around each individual’s diagnosis. For many people, residential treatment is the only realistic option when it comes to reclaiming control of their lives—but treatment can be costly.

Fortunately, the Affordable Care Act and other recent changes in health insurance laws have widely expanded coverage for mental disorders, giving millions more Americans the chance to address serious illnesses—including eating disorders. This sizable increase in the available pool of patients has caused the amount of private inpatient facilities specializing in eating disorders to more than triple in the past decade.

While this increase in residential eating-disorder programs has made treatment available for many people who desperately need it, some parties have treated this shift in our societal landscape primarily as a business opportunity. Larger organizations, backed by big-money investors, are buying up smaller programs in an effort to expand their businesses. And while a growing clientele doesn’t necessarily imply a drop-off in the quality of care, some programs seem to focus on filling beds and taking care of their bottom line more than ensuring the people under their care are getting their best chance at sustainable long-term success.


As outlined in an article by the New York Times, many for-profit care facilities spend significant resources on marketing themselves to potential patients as well as health-care professionals from whom they hope to receive referrals. Patients receive glossy flyers that look more like an advertisement for a resort or a day spa. Clinicians receive free trips to visit the facility, lunches, gifts and other goodies—all in the hopes of influencing who they’ll recommend when treating eating-disorder clients.

Avalon Hills is proud to be the only privately owned, founder-run facility in the nation that operates under a Treat to Outcome philosophy—that is, we aim to be the last stop for all of our clients who have often been stuck in a revolving-door cycle of recovery and relapse. On average, the girls and women at our facility have been in and out of treatment seven times before enrolling in our program—an indicator that many eating-disorder recovery programs are not adequately equipping their clients to maintain the progress they’ve made upon returning to their day-to-day lives.


While we’re proud of our comfortable facilities and scenic setting, our goal for each of our clients remains a full recovery, not a fancy vacation. Recovery takes hard work, and throughout the course of treatment, our clients will occasionally be asked to do things that make them feel uneasy or uncomfortable. But being pushed to the edge of one’s comfort zone is how meaningful personal progress happens. And thanks to our philosophy of creating a completely personalized recovery plan for each patient rather than trying to fit people with differing needs into a one-size-fits-all program, we’re able to walk each client through their own journey of healing at a pace that suits their individual situation.

Our founder knows firsthand how difficult it is to make and maintain progress when recovering from an eating disorder—which is why we’re so dedicated to helping our clients achieve long-term success, and to equipping them to deal with everything they’ll experience when navigating a body-conscious world full of potential stressors and triggers. It’s why in addition to employing a caring, dedicated staff of eating-disorder experts, we invest in cutting-edge treatment methods like biofeedback and neurofeedback to give our clients the best chance to fully understand and address the underlying causes of their emotional pain.


Contact Avalon Hills today to learn more about our people-before-profits philosophy, and how we can help put you or your loved one on the path to sustainable success.