Print this Post

River Oaks


I was just at RO on the Trauma unit. It is an excellent place. You have therapy every day and the therapists are excellent and know what they are doing. The educational groups are also outstanding. To be on the trauma unit, you need to have a history of sexual abuse. The focus is on trauma, not ED, even though there is an ED track. That includes a couple groups and may include supervised meals. There is a separate ED unit if that is your primary struggle, and if you are also dealing with trauma, you may be able to attend some groups on the trauma unit. All of this should be arranged prior to your admission so there aren’t surprises. The food is pretty awful, but at least you get some choices if you are ED or have a special diet (I recommend saying that you are a vegetarian, even if you’re not so that you get to select menus vs. getting stuck with what is offered.). The common space is large – there is a ping pong table, a piano and lots of art supplies. The individual rooms aren’t so nice. There are two persons to a room and a bathroom connects two rooms.

Definitely take your own pillow, a nice blanket, and a big fluffy towel. No shoe strings or strings of any type, so before you go, take yourself out to get a pair or two of really comfortable shoes that you really like and that do not have laces. Make sure there are no strings in your sweats or pants, or you will lose them. No hair dryers, curling irons or hairpins/barrets allowed, so plan ahead.

There are a lot of art supplies, but you might like to come with your own art book (not spiral bound), and your own colors if you are a serious artist/writer.

There are men in the program, but when I was there last month, there were only 3 men and 17 women. The men sleep in a separate area.

There are 3 phones on the unit that you are allowed to use whenever there is no group. At this point, you could make calls for free. They may start requiring a calling card soon, so you should check.

None of the psychiatrists are great – go with a clear plan for your meds and make sure that your home psychiatrist will back you up and call on your behalf if needed.

On that note, it is essential that you maintain contact with your home therapist and that if you run into any issues with your care, that your therapist agree to advocate on your behalf. They were very good about letting me talk to my therapist whenever she was able to call – even if it was outside of the regular phone times. My RO therapist was also in frequent contact with my home therapist and they did a great job coordinating my care.

I don’t know what the ED unit is like. The ED treatment plan on the Trauma unit is pretty flexible and you really are on your own. If you aren’t ready to be on your own for food, then you will be admitted to the ED unit.

I stayed for 2 weeks, which was covered at 70% by my insurance. If you are dealing with major trauma/sexual abuse, this is really the place to go.


  1. When were you there:

    What were meals like?
    Meals ranged from deathly quiet to laughing so hard that my stomach hurt. It all depends on who’s with you at the table. You start out eating meals on the unit, and then get to go to the cafeteria after usually a week or so. There were 3 meals and 2 snacks each day.

    Average Day:
    6:00a- weights and vitals
    6:30a-8a- showers, etc.
    8a-9a- breakfast and morning goals group
    9a-12p- groups
    12p-1p- lunch and post meal
    1p-2:30p- group
    2:30p-3p: snack
    3p-4p- group
    4p-5p- homework, assignments
    5p-6p- dinner and post meal
    6p-7p- outside time, exercise time
    7p-8p- group
    8:30p-9p- snack and wrap up group
    10p or 11p-lights out

    What sorts of food were available or served?
    Food was typical hospital food, except on days that there was a cooking activity or restaurant outing. The menus rotated on a 2 week basis, but there were always items you could write in. Sandwiches and veggie burgers were fallback items. There were not many “dense” options available for when you got on a higher meal plan, which was a bit disappointing. You also never had to eat veggies unless you wanted to. They DO accommodate vegetarians, which limits your choices a little, but not by too much since there aren’t too many anyway.

    Did they supplement? How did that system work?
    They do supplement with Ensure(+). If you don’t finish/do a meal, they will estimate about how much to give you. Absolute refusal may have been 2 E+, but don’t quote me on that. They do not tube at all any more. If you do not gain your half pound for the day (if on weight gain), you have to add 2 E+s on top of what you are already doing, usually one at 10a and the other between dinner and night snack, but these adds were very frustrating since normally your meal plan would be increased as well.

    What privileges are allowed?
    You can use your cell phone either very early in the morning or in the evening. No television, no internet, unless on pass. We did have movies though. Because what you are allowed to do is based on whether you gained your 1/2 pound for the day, failure to do so would result in you not being able to use the phone, have no visitors that day, lose your pass, and if you failed to gain enough weight for more than one day in a row, you had to eat on unit, ride in a wheelchair, and were not allowed to do any groups off the unit.

    Does it work on a level system?
    Privileges are based on a system. There is cafeteria privilege, different levels of observation after meals and snacks (2hr+1hr, 1hr+30mins, and 0+0). You also get bathroom privileges (ie-flushing your own toilet, being able to take a shower at night). You also earn privileges to go on passes, grocery outing, and restaurant outing. Once mid weight range, you can get exercise privileges.

    What sort of groups do they have?
    There are TONS of groups- process, art, movement, body image, DBT, CBT, relaxation, thoughts and feelings, anger management, motivation enhancement, ceramics, ED letter writing, family systems, nutrition, yoga, psychodrama, relapse prevention, males had their own daily group, and more that I’m forgetting

    What was your favorite group?
    I really liked art and movement. Who led the group had a big influence on whether I liked it.

    What did you like the most?
    You get 3 individual and 2 family sessions per week here (as an inpatient). Also 2 meetings with the nutritionist. I liked that there was lots and lots of structured time (although weekends could get boring). When I was there, there were anywhere from 4 people to 11 people (on a unit that holds 15 or 16 I think), so it was nice when it was smaller since everyone got a chance to talk in groups.

    What did you like the least?
    The nutritionists and weight gain philosophy! Having been to other programs, I have done much better with other places that base weights on weekly, not daily requirements. The nutritionists also don’t seem to understand EDs very well.

    Would you recommend this program?
    I would recommend this program, especially if you are motivated to get better. The groups are usually really good, and the program has quite a bit of structure built in. I would recommend another program if you are looking to step down from IP to PHP to OP gradually–there are much better programs out there.

    What level of activity or exercise was allowed?
    None unless you had privileges.

    What did people do on weekends?
    Passes, therapy assignments, and movies. A few groups. Ceramics!

    Do you get to know your weight?
No, but I did see mine in my chart multiple times.

    How fast is the weight gain process?
    1/2 pound per DAY.

    What was the average length of stay?
    For IP, 1-2 months usually.

    What was the average age range?
    early teens to mid forties

    What kind of aftercare do they provide? Do they help you set up an OP treatment team?
    Some people do PHP. They do help you set up an OP team and you do transition sessions before you leave.

    How many IP beds? How many patients in PHP or IOP?
    I think there were 15 or 16 IP beds. We were never filled to capacity. There was maybe one person that did PHP while I was there. I don’t think the program can accommodate more than 12 people (total) at a time due to staffing issues.


    When were you there:
    I actually have only been home a week and a half December 2008-January 2009 

    Describe the average day:
    Wake up between 5:30am or 6:00am depending on the overnight nurse in charge. Weights were done in a hospital gown blind. You had to use the restroom and empty your bladder before being weighed or you were put on warning automatically. If you didn’t gain enough or lost the first day you were put on warning and were supplemented 10am and bedtime snack in addition to meals and if it happened again you were put on R and R (Rest and Recovery) and had to be wheeled in a wheelchair to conserve calories and couldn’t attend groups off the unit. Showers if you weren’t on BRS were 6:30am to 8:00am and if you were on BRS you had to take them at night with the door cracked and staff outside listening. If you were on BRS you couldn’t flush your own toliet and had to have the door cracked at all times

    What were meals like? They were decent I guess. Breakfast got borning to me real fast…bagels, english muffins, toast, cereal, milk, eggs, yogert, lunch and dinner were always hard for me and then snacks twice a day unless you were supplemented for not gaining or not finishing 100% of your meal. Once you were eating better you got privleges to go to cafe with a prep tray, cafe with menu, and then on your own. You had your own table and a staff sat with you

    Did they supplement? How did that system work? If you were on weight gain you had to eat 100% of your meal or you were supplemented, some had supplements with thier meals regardless, and some who were on maintance only had to eat 90% before they were supplemented…one was on a supplement diet for awhile and day 12 ensure plus a day…i felt so bad for her

    What privelages are allowed? You could smoke until New Year’s Day when the psychiatrist stopped all smoking on the Ed Unit because he thought some were using it as an appetite suppressant. It made ppl more depressed irratable if you ask me. Tv only during theaupetic movie times and was wheeled out in a cart. You could listen to music, do assignments, art, write letters, have vistors as long as you weren’t on R and R and you could have your phone during phone times….some got computer privleges for theraupetic reasons only

    Does it work on a level system? yeah. SVC (strict visual contact)-you had to stay in the day room all day pretty much two hours after meals and 1 hour after snacks until you moved up a level…bathrooms with staff outside the door MVC (modified visual contact)-day room most of the day and it seemed like the same as the first level to me MVC-CO ) like MVC, but can sleep in own room and go to bathroom by self. CO (close observation)- will remain on unit and be checked on…I was on and off this alot due to asthma issues FTP (full therapeutic privilages)- can go on passes, restraunt outings, grocery outings etc

    What sort of groups do they have? CBT, DBT, nutrition, psychodrama, art, relapse prevention, process (with head psych, discuss concerns of the unit), music, ceramics (every sat and sun morning), Yoga, Expressive Therapy, Body Image, Life Skills, Thoughts and Feelings, Cooking Activity, Restraunt Challenge, Mind, Body and Spirit, Motivation Enhancement, Family Communication, and Anger Management.

    What was your favorite group? Art Therapy, DBT, and Body Image…they helped me the most

    What did you like the most?I liked that we got more individulaized attention vs larger programs…there was 10 at most there at a time, individual therapy three times a week, nutrition twice a week helped alot too

    What did you like the least? I didn’t like that some were there and motivated to recover and others didn’t want to be there…why were they there then? I hated family therapy but they may be just an indivial thing for me…and didn’t like early morning wake up

    Would you recommend this program? definately. most definately.

    What level of activity or exercise was allowed?you could do yoga or walk around the quad five times a week for thirty minutes and they watched you to make sure it didn’t get out of control

    What did people do on weekends? Cooking activity, groups, assignments, theraupetic movies, vistors, restraunt outings, it was less intense than the week day

    Do you get to know your weight? no, they just told you if you made progression or not…if you were on warning or r and r

    How fast is the weight gain process? 1-2lbs a week

    What was the average length of stay? It depended on the person and thier insurance. One was there three months…most about a month or so and went into iop went they got home like i did

    What was the average age range? 16-43.

    other stuff: individual therapy three times a week, nutritionist twice a week, psychiatrist three times a week, I really liked the program and it really helped me I was on the ED track only! Some were from Canada, Alabama, Mississippi, South Carolina, Georiga, and some local

    i was in the trauma unit (new orleans institute).
    it was purely the trauma unit, but understand that the trauma unit DOES have an ED track, so even if you go to the trauma unit for only trauma work, there may be other people there for mainly trauma work, but working on recovery from an ED on the side (ED table, hunger/fullness checks, eating 100%, a couple ED groups). there also might not be anyone there on the ED track. it just depends. but make sure you are ready for that.
    basically, i think the trauma program there is really good. you have individual therapy 5x per week, meet with your psychiatrist 3x per week, have trauma group (smaller group of people-usually like 5- that you share more intimately with) 4x per week, relapse prevention 6x per week, DBT 2x per week, art therapy 1-2x per week, psychodrama 2x per week, ceramics 1x per week, then other groups randomly throughout the week, such as sexual healing, inner child, body image (even for those w/out EDs), scrapbooking group, different modules, process group (brought up issues on the unit w/ the head psych). they also have a compulsive behavior program, so if you had issues with that, you would attend compulsive behavior groups as well (i did for self-injury. they did things like covert sensitization and ammonia aversion therapy).
    The day is very busy. not much free time until like after dinner, then most people use that time to do assignments (from their therapists) or journal or call family (cannot have cell phones w/ cameras, but have have regular ones. they also have wall phones- that are not pay phones- that you can use, even to call long distance). most of the people there were from out of town, so there weren’t many visitors. there isn’t any TV, except they wheel one in during the weekend, but most people are busy during the evening anyways. if people didn’t have assignments, they would read, do collages (they had millions of magazines), talk to other people, and i must say we had quite the trivia games and card games going.
    they do allow smoking (don’t know if you do). you get 12 breaks a day (10 minutes each usually, but if there are no groups afterwards, like at night, some staff will stay out longer). 2 of the breaks are “fresh-air breaks” and you cannot smoke during them, but all the others you can. no limit on # of cigarettes during each break (if you run out of cigs, you might be able to sweet talk the staff into going to the store for you to get more). if you do not smoke, you are still allowed to go outside during all of the breaks.
    they also have people trained in EMDR and an “anger room” where you can go and … be destructive (?) i guess. i never went to the anger room, but the people who went seemed to be helped by it. for meals, if you are not on the ED protocol, you get breakfast on the unit (they have breakfast-y stuff in the unit kitchen), and for lunch and dinner you go to the cafeteria and go through the line and eat there.

Permanent link to this article: http://www.edtreatmentreview.com/2012/07/01/river-oaks-2/


Skip to comment form

  1. anon

    How many patients on average? people filter in and out periodically because it went from being just a few patients to having more than 10 patients at once but it can hold up to 14

    Does it treat both males and females? Yes. If so, is treatment separate or combined? even though I was never there with a male, there was one right before I came and I was told treatment is mostly combined but they do have a separate group for males at one point on the schedule

    How often do you see a medical doc? on admit the medical doc sees you and then after it depends on whether or not it’s medically necessary Psychiatrist? usually once or twice a week you meet Psychologist? 3x for individual and 2x for family Nutritionist? twice a week (most of the staff is always there so they can be pulled aside to talk if they are not busy)

    What is the staff ratio to patients? well there are 3 nurses/PCs for more than 8 patients and usually all of the therapists,nutritionists and psychiatrist are there during the day

    What sorts of therapies are used? DBT/CBT


    What were meals like? I enjoyed meals on the unit more than when you go to the cafeteria to eat with other units that are there (not ED units). On the unit you played games and the conversations were pretty enjoyable. Obviously, a staff member or two depending on how many people watch you but they are fun and add to the conversations. The main thing I dislike about the cafeteria is the noise level.

    What sorts of food were available or served? it was typical cafeteria/ hospital food which I personally don’t mind, there were 3 choices on the menu you can pick from for your meals or you can write certain items in like baked chicken, cottage cheese etc., snacks were typical snack foods (yogurt, granola bars, pretzels, chips, cookies etc.) once you get of a menu and onto cafeteria w/o menu you have to eat what is on the line or they usually have one alternative and some things you can ask for from the back like sliced meat and bread etc.

    Did they supplement? Yes. How did the system work? if you didn’t eat any or hardly any you are asked to supplement with two ensure +, if you eat like 50% I think it’s one ensure +, 75% or less is usually just one ensure.

    What is the policy for not complying with meals? they ask you to supplement and if you refuse it looks bad to your treatment team so your stay will be longer and you won’t get privileges as quickly (THEY DO NOT DO NG TUBES so if you need one they will send you to a local hospital)

    Are you able to be vegetarian? yes but you eat a lot of the same meals if you are, the girls who were when I was there were miserable trying to find things to eat

    What privileges are allowed? well you get of BRS which means that they watch you while you use the restroom and then flush after also if you are off BRS you can shower at night too and not just in the morning), you get to go to the cafeteria instead of eating on the unit, at the beginning of your stay you have to stay out in the dayroom for 1 hour after snack and 2 hours after meals (basically gives you no chance to go in your room) and you can move down to 1/30 then to 0/0,(most girls stay in the dayroom anyone so there is stuff for you to do) also passes to get off the grounds

    Do they work on a level system? NO

    How do you earn privileges? you ask for them in treatment team meetings which are twice a week and they give them to you if you are complying with meals and progressing in treatment

    What sort of groups do they have? DBT and CBT, Mind, Body Spirit (meditation and mindfullness practicing), body image, psychotherapy, anger management, Relapse Prevention (based on CBT behavioral chain), different types or art therapy or expressive therapy

    What was your favorite group? I really like Relapse Prevention and I’m a sucker for art therapy because art really helps me

    What did you like the most? the times with the other patients there and the staff were all pretty awesome, I really enjoyed most of my time there.

    What did I like the least? the nitpicky rules, the unit was coooooooolllllllllllldddddddd because it’s connected with the pharmacy

    Would you recommend this program? yes definitely

    What level of exercise was allowed? once you were in your weight range you could walk outside 3x per week or do yoga and then they can move up to 5x a week if you stay there long enough in your weight range

    What did people do on the weekends? assignments, played games, journal, went on passes

    Do you get to know your weight? no… just if your on projection

    How fast is the weight gain process? .5 lbs per day

    What is the average length of stay? 30 days

    What was the average age-range? 13-50

    How do visits/phone calls work? you can call every night during showers and sharps or in the mornings during showers and sharps, visits are on Wednesdays in the evening and on weekends in the evening

    Are you able to go on passes? yes, if you receive them in treatment team

    Are there any resources for people who come out of state/ country? not sure but there were several people there from out of state and a few from out of the country

  2. tracy

    I’ve been on that trauma/ed track but never solely on the ed track. Also, do you know if they try to get you to a certain % of IBW? At UNC they kick you out at 75% if lucky 85% IBW. Also, if coming from out of state will they let you stay IP until weight restored?

  3. Jaime Hooker-Alexander

    Do they let you have NG tubes? I was there before and didnt need on back in July/August 2012. My ED is very much triggered by my past trauma. I did a month in ED program and a month in Trauma program. But my PTSD is so badly affecting my ability to eat. I’m so desperate I would let my doctor’s put an NG tube back in if allowed to have one at River Oaks and do the trauma therapy

  4. Alina Lane

    I am supposed to go to River Oaks for an ED in a week. Do you really get to leave the program if you want to if you feel like it isn’t working for you? I am really nervous as I have not been away from my son since he was born for more then a week. Any info about the food is helpful too as I am a vegan and Gluten free.

  5. lelizrn

    Does anyone have a recent review of the ED unit? Do they allow you to have hair dryers, straighteners, shoe laces, etc?

    1. ren

      I was there this summer and I thought it was very helpful. The therapists were great and so were the nurses and PCs. They do allow you to bring your hair dryer and straightener, they just keep it and you can use it in the morning. You cannot have shoe laces or any strings on your clothes. It is very cold there so I would recommend bringing pants and sweatshirts. You can’t have cell phones or anything electronic but they will give it to you once you can go one pass. I really got a lot out of it. If you have anymore questions, please feel free to ask!

      1. lelizrn

        Thank you, ren! How long were you there? Were there phones you could use to call home?

        1. ren

          I was there for about 2 and a half weeks inpatient and about two more weeks in partial patient. Yes, there are phones that you can use and they have phone hours every night and I think maybe in the morning too.

          1. lelizrn

            ren- could you email me so I can ask a few more questions? My address is lelizrn@gmail.com. Thanks!

  6. mel

    I am very interested if anyone has been there recently as I heard this is a geat program and due to have a peg tube already they are willing to take me so they still do tube feeding. Also it was stated that you can have pillows and blankets from home. SO if someone has been there within this pas year please update thanks

    1. Lauren

      I was just at River Oaks this summer (2013). I thought the program was great! I was inpatient for about 3 weeks and then partial-patient for 2 weeks. I was able to bring my own pillows and blankets from home. They didn’t have anyone that needed a feeding tube while I was there so I am not sure about that. The therapist, nursing staff and PCs were amazing and made the experience a lot more enjoyable to be there. I really benefitted from being here!

      1. Annie

        Hu I would really like to know more about the program as the reviews on here aren’t about the ED unit or aren’t helpful

        1. Ashley

          I too would like updated info. As I’m looking into this program and would be coming from VA. Would hate to come all the way there for a crappy program. Would love to know more about restrictions and rules. Cell phone? iPad?

          1. ren

            I was just there this summer (2013) and I thought it was very helpful. I really did get a lot out of it that I am still using today to help me through my eating disorder. The schedule keeps you very busy during the week and is a little more relaxed on the weekend.
            You get a psychiatrist, an individual therapist, a family therapist and a nutritionist. You see your individual therapist 3 times a week, your family therapist 2 times a week and your nutritionist 2 or 3 times a week (I don’t remember how many times).
            There are group therapies called process group where everyone gets a chance to just talk about anything they are going through, their assignments that they were given in individual therapy and things like that. They also have art therapy, music therapy, movement therapy and many others.
            There is a post-meal therapy group after every meal. And cooking activities 2 times a week. In the cooking activity a couple of people volunteer to cook lunch for the rest of the unit (and if no one volunteers they pick people) – you will have to do it at least once while you are there.
            When you first get there you will be on BRS and then after you’re there for a few days and doing what you need to be doing you can get off it.
            You are not allowed to have your cell phone on the unit but once you are allowed to go on passes they will give it to you for however long your pass is. You might be able to bring your iPad and they will hold it for you until you are able to go on a pass (I am not a hundred percent sure on that though).
            After your 3rd day there, they start the 1/2 pound weight gain projection system. If you don’t gain that 1/2 pound for the day then you will be put on warning and will have to gain 1 pound for the next day. You have to eat 100% of your food or you have to supplement with Ensure.
            It is very cold in there so I would recommend bringing sweatshirt and pants. You can bring your own pillow and blanket. You can bring all your toiletries, hair dryers, straighteners, etc. They will keep those things in the nursing station until you it is the time that you are allowed to use them.
            Once you are at the middle of your weight range you could ask for exercising privileges.

            I know this is all over the place and I don’t have everything in here but if you have anymore questions feel free to ask!

            1. lelizrn

              ren, how long were you there? Does it take a while to be able to go out on pass? Also, do you know if they try to get you to a certain % of IBW?

              1. ren

                I was there for a month, I did about 2 and a half weeks in-patient and then I went to partial patient for about 2 more weeks. It all depends on how you do to go on a pass, it took me about a week a half and then I was able to go. But I was able to do the outings (grocery store and restaurant lunch) within the first week. They give you a weight range to be in, and you need to gain .5 lb a day until you’re at your goal weight and maintain it.

            2. lelizrn

              Do they allow iPods or anything like that?

              1. ren

                No they did not while I was there. They may let you bring one and you could use it when you go on pass, like they do with your phone, but I am not a hundred percent sure on that one.

  7. Mel

    Was there for 4 weeks (self pay) in sept 2012. I was on the eating disorders unit. I only completed about a third of my recommended stay as I hated it there. It was freezing . All the time. No blankets allowed only on your bed. The couches were hard as a rock. The beds are awful. The whole experience was generally uncomfortable. On weight gain protocol 0.5 lb a day is expected! With daily weights. They don’t tell you your weight but if you don’t gain the projected amount you lose privileges. There no internet. They keep your phone and if you have privileges you can have it for an hour and a half a day. Personally the place made me worse.meals are increased every 3 days regardless and if you don’t finish 100% you supplement with ensure. It was not what I had hoped for . I personally don’t recommend it to anyone unless you want to feel like you are in prison. It is also rotten and 4 of us had bed bugs. Yes I said bed bugs. Ugh!

    1. Renee

      I am supposed to go to RO some time in the next few weeks. Did they deal with the bed bugs? That is gross! I certainly don’t want to bring them home to my house. Do they discharge you once you reach your goal weight or do they really deal with the mental part of the eating disorder? Do you get to pick your goal weight or how does that work? I am older and concerned about being in a group of adolescents. Does that seem to work well there? I think this is the only place my insurance will cover, so I don’t have much of a choice. I really don’t want to go in and just gain weight if it’s not going to be helpful. No point in that. I need to learn how to eat without starving or binging. Thanks for any input.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

%d bloggers like this: