Caring for and supporting a teen with an eating disorder can be confusing
and frustrating, even frightening, If your teen is suffering from medical
complications resulting from a severe eating disorder, the expert staff
at Torrance Memorial Medical Center’s Medical Stabilization Program can help.
In addition to providing life-saving medical management, our specially
trained team will supervise your teen's care during refeeding to avoid
refeeding syndrome, the complications that can occur when a starving body
begins to take in more calories. We also work with you and your teen to
understand the emotional and behavioral challenges of their eating disorder
and take those first important steps toward help and healing.
Why should I bring my teen to Torrance Memorial’s Medical Stabilization Program?
Our inpatient program provides expert and experienced medical care-from
initial consultation through treatment and discharge planning. Treatment
is comprehensive and includes medical, psychiatric, psychological, and
nutritional care. Our staff is specially trained in eating disorder recovery,
and many have 20 years of experience in the field.
In addition to the Medical Stabilization team, your teen will have access
to the expertise of other specialists at Torrance Memorial Medical Center
if necessary. These include cardiologists, gastroenterologists, and nephrologists,
all experienced in treating complications that can result from eating
Learn more about our program>>
How will I know if my teen needs medical stabilization?
Your teen may need medical stabilization if he or she is experiencing any
of the following as a result of an eating disorder:
- Weight loss to the point that friends or family are becoming concerned.
- Medical complications related to an eating disorder, such as abnormal blood
test results or a very low heart rate.
- Rejection from an eating disorders program because your child’s weight
is too low or he or she doesn’t meet other admission criteria.
- Trouble eating because of stomach pain.
Learn more about conditions we treat>>
What should I do if I think my teen needs medical stabilization?
The first step is to call our office at 310-325-4353 to make an appointment
for an assessment. Someone is available to speak with you 24 hours a day.
Our office staff will discuss the appointment and other details with family
or a referring provider.
What if I am not sure if my teen’s eating disorder is serious enough
for this level of care?
You should still call us for an appointment. If we don’t think your
teen qualifies for medical stabilization, we will refer you to another
type of treatment. This may be weekly or more frequent office visits with
a psychotherapist, dietitian or physician. We may also recommend treatment
in an intensive outpatient program or residential facility.
Do we need a doctor’s referral to get an assessment?
In most cases you can make an appointment with us for an assessment without
a physician’s referral. However, some patients with HMO insurance
may require a referral.
Will our insurance pay for medical stabilization?
Yes, if your insurance plan is with a Preferred Provider Organization (PPO).
We only accept PPO insurance.
Because our Medical Stabilization Program is located in an acute care hospital,
your teen’s stay will be covered through your medical benefits,
rather than your behavioral health benefits. This means that after discharge
your teen will be able to use their full behavioral health benefits for
My teen is very fussy about food. Can I give her food to bring with her
to the hospital?
We understand that your teen may have particular food preferences; however,
for the recovery process to begin your teen needs to use the services
provided by the treatment team, including food. Dietary services include
meal planning, education, and food consumption monitoring.
Later, when she can consistently eat the meals provided by the dietary
staff, you will be able to bring some meals and snacks to be incorporated
into the treatment.
Can we stay with our teen during mealtime?
Meals are an important part of your teen’s treatment (we view them
as a medical intervention) and need to be monitored by the nursing staff.
Your teen needs to begin to trust the staff during meals and this will
be more difficult if her family members are present. Similarly, your teen
may be self-conscious about eating in front of friends and family. Meals
with family members can be planned further into the treatment process.
If all we're doing is having our daughter eat regular food, why can't we
do that at home?
The hospital is providing much more than food. 24/7 observation allows
us to see aspects of your teen’s eating disorder that may be otherwise
hidden. Additionally, we conduct accurate and continual measurements of
body weight, fluid intake, urine output, and calories consumed. This means
our physician and dietitian can assess calorie needs much more accurately.
The hospital is also the safest place for your teen to be right now.
If all we're doing is having our daughter eat regular food, why can't we
do that at home? I'm a nurse and can check her blood pressure and pulse.
The hospital is providing much more than food. Round-the-clock observation
enables us to see facets of the eating disorder that may be otherwise
hidden and begin to address them in treatment. Accurate and continual
measurements of body weight, fluid intake, urine output and calories consumed
also enable the physician and dietitian to assess calorie needs much more
accurately. The hospital is also the safest place for your daughter to
be right now.
Why would a hospital setting be better for my teen psychologically than
being in her home?
Many patients feel relief when they enter the hospital because the constant
internal dilemma that they have about which foods to choose and eat are
removed. In addition, the power struggles which sometimes happen at home,
with parents trying to get their son or daughter to eat or prevent them
from purging, are not present in the hospital.
It is important to allow yourself room to be a parent, and it is asking
too much of a parent to provide medical treatment for their teen. It is
also confusing for adolescents and their parents when parents act as medical
Why can't I be told my teen’s weight?
People with eating disorders tend to dwell on their weight and body appearance,
and it is easy for significant others to get pulled into this. We know
you are concerned about your teen's health, which may be threatened by
an unhealthy body weight. However, we recommend that parents stay out
of weight discussions that can trigger arguments, comments, and dynamics
that impede recovery. The easiest way to avoid this problem is to have
no knowledge of the number on the scale. We also want to avoid situations
in which a parent has information that the patient is not allowed to have,
which can erode trust. In most cases, the physician will review weights
periodically (every five to seven days) with the patient.
Why can't parents stay in the hospital overnight?
Teens need space to begin to trust the treatment team, which is more difficult
if parents are always available to meet their needs. Teens are also better
able to experience their emotions when they have some time alone. This
is very important for the recovery process.
Nurses are always available to patients if they need something or if they
are having a hard time. Parents also need an opportunity to get adequate
rest and to get in touch with their reactions to what is happening in
the family. Parents who are well-rested and allow time for themselves
are better able to provide support for their teen.