For Parents: Eating Disorders Program | Torrance Memorial

For Parents

Mother and daughter with therapistCaring 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 Eating Disorders 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.

Frequently Asked Questions

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 disorders.

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. 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 Eating Disorders 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 further treatment.

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/son 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 nutritional 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/son 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 teen to be right now.

Why would a hospital setting be better for my teen psychologically than being in the 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 providers.

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 child's health, which may be threatened by an unhealthy body weight. However, we have found that patients do best when parents stay out of discussions about weight. 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.

Can parents stay in the hospital overnight?

In general, this is not recommended. 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.

If you are coming from out of town, we have hotels that offer a special rate for our visitors. Please see next FAQ.

What hotels are nearby with a special Torrance Memorial rate?

**Rates are subject to change. Please confirm with the hotel.**

DoubleTree by Hilton Torrance/South Bay
21333 Hawthorne Blvd.
Torrance, CA 90502
1.9 miles from Torrance Memorial
Contact: Amanda Schwabenbauer
or Benilda Haley

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DoubleTree offers a “Torrance Memorial Corporate Rate,” providing a room is available. Must call Amanda or Benilda directly to book the room in order to receive the special rate ($165, per night, for a King or 2 double beds)

Bluestem Hotel
2448 Sepulveda Blvd.
Torrance, CA 90501
2.8 miles from Torrance Memorial

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Contact: Richmond Richardson
Discount: 15% off best rate available. Night’s stay includes breakfast.

Courtyard by Marriott Torrance/Palos Verdes
2633 W. Sepulveda Blvd
Torrance, CA 90505
2.5 miles from Torrance Memorial

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Contact: Mariel Cabada
Discount: 15%

Best Western Avita Suites
3531 Torrance Blvd.
Torrance, CA 90503
2.5 miles from Torrance Memorial

Contact: Guest Services
Discount: Best rate available - it varies due to demand and season. Breakfast is included in the rate. For more information on Torrance, visit

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