RWJUH Somerset opens newly renovated eating disorders unit

State-of-the-art facility promotes healing, wellness and recovery for adults and adolescents

Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital Somerset completed renovations of its eating disorders unit this week, unveiling an expanded state-of-the-art facility creating a supportive environment for patients’ treatment and recovery.

The eating disorder program is part of RWJBarnabas Health’s Behavioral Health and Addiction Services, in partnership with Rutgers University Behavioral Health Care, and is one of only two inpatient eating disorder programs in the state.

With the renovations, the unit has expanded its capacity from 14 to 20 beds. Designed specifically to help promote healing, wellness and recovery, the unit features research-based design elements such as nature-based lighting that mimics daily changes in sunlight, curved lines and references to nature. These design elements follow patients from the unit’s common spaces into the newly renovated patient rooms.

Adults and adolescents struggling with eating disorders, including anorexia, bulimia and binge eating disorders, have different care and treatment needs. RWJUH Somerset’s eating disorders unit is the only inpatient eating disorder program in New Jersey that includes separate designated spaces for adults and adolescents to better address their unique needs.

Additionally, many spaces in the renovated unit were designed with flexibility in mind and can be configured to accommodate a mix of uses and group activities.

“Eating disorders affect more than 28 million Americans and cases have significantly increased over the past few years due to stress and isolation caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, particularly among teens and young adults,” Frank Ghinassi, senior vice president of behavioral health and addictions services and CEO and president of Rutgers University Behavioral Health Care, said. “Eating disorders, if left untreated, can be life-threatening illnesses and in some cases, patients are also coping with other mental health issues such as anxiety and depression. That’s why comprehensive medical care is so important.”

“Our newly renovated unit was designed to give patients a sense of calm, comfort and safety as they go through treatment,” Christine Belluardo, vice president of behavioral health services at RWJUH Somerset, said. “Our multidisciplinary team understands the physical, mental and social needs of our patients and helps them develop their inner resources, allowing them to carry the tools they learn with them long after leaving the program to sustain their recovery.”