Rady Children’s Hospital-San Diego and UC San Diego have joined forces to open the Medical Behavioral Unit, the only child and adolescent medical/behavioral inpatient unit in San Diego. The unit treats children and adolescents who have medical conditions, along with behavioral or psychological problems.

Patients are cared for by a highly experienced team of professionals with medical, mental health and behavioral health expertise — including specialized experience in treating eating disorders. Our staff includes nurses, social workers, licensed psychiatric technicians, dietitians, and physicians from our Hospitalist, Adolescent Medicine, and Psychiatry services.

Eating Disorders Treatment

Inpatient care is provided for children, adolescents and young adults with anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa and related eating disorders. These patients include those who have abnormal cardiovascular function or are severely underweight and require nutrition intervention and monitoring under expert care.

The Eating Disorders Treatment team is led by world-renowned authorities on eating disorders: Walter Kaye, M.D., Professor of Psychiatry, and Kerri Boutelle, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Pediatrics and Psychiatry, both at the UC San Diego School of Medicine. Medical treatment is managed by adolescent medicine specialist Karen Loper, M.D.

Our care includes:

  • A complete medical examination and evaluation by an adolescent medical specialist, focused on detecting complications of the eating disorder and determining the optimal weight range for each patient. Treatment will be started for any medical complication, such as severe malnutrition, very low heart rate, low blood pressure, dehydration, or abnormal electrolytes. The specialist sees the patient dailyand works with the team to make any changes in the treatment plan.
  • Dietary assessment by a registered dietitian and an individualized meal plan to restore weight and physical health
  • Fully supervised meals
  • Behavioral interventions to restore weight in anorexia and stop the binge/purge cycle of bulimia
  • Therapy groups using evidence-based and best-practice treatments, such as Dialectical Behavioral Therapy

After patients are stabilized, we offer them outpatient care at the UC San Diego Eating Disorders Center for Treatment and Research in La Jolla. The program will return to the Rady Children’s Hospital campus at a future date.

Medical-Behavioral Disorders Treatment

We also have a 12-bed unit for patients with acute medical/behavioral emergencies, such as suicide attempts, severe depression, anxiety or other mental illnesses, who have significant physical complications or concurrent medical conditions. For example, patients with somatoform and factitious disorders with unclear medical symptoms that require further investigation would be treated here. Click here to learn more.

Video: Learn about our Eating Disorders Program and specialized expertise

Contact Us

  • For immediate medical admissions, please call 858-576-1700 and ask for the Adolescent Medicine Specialist on call.
  • For program information or general inquiries, please contact Alyson Merchant, Intake Coordinator, at 858-534-9626.