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About your treatment

Inpatient care at South Oaks Hospital is a collaborative process, and the patient is the most important member of the treatment team. As providers and supportive personnel, we are here to aid in your recovery, and to make sure that you understand and can engage in your treatment, medication program and discharge plan.

What to expect as an inpatient

Medication management—prescribing, administering and monitoring medications—is an important part of treatment for patients admitted to South Oaks. Our goal is to decrease symptoms and behaviors that have interfered with your functioning in the community. If you are dealing with a substance use disorder, we will also use medication management to safely taper you off substances. This medical therapy should make it possible for you to engage more fully with the therapeutic groups that are also part of your treatment. So that we can address any side effects from your prescriptions and monitor their safety and efficacy, it is important that you talk with your provider about how you’re feeling while on medication.

We also use something called milieu therapy at South Oaks. This means we have developed a safe, nurturing environment for our patients, one that provides a sense of structure and encourages the development of social ties that foster a feeling of belonging and accountability. In this caring environment, you will work with staff and other members of the community to share your concerns, develop new skills and learn more about caring for yourself and others.

Group sessions will likely be part of your schedule every day. These may include group therapy, creative arts, fitness or educational groups, and may take place on the unit or in the activity building. If you are a student registered in a school district, you will be able to take classes on-site through Western Suffolk BOCES (Boards of Cooperative Educational Services).

Individual therapy sessions focus on the problems, behaviors and symptoms that led to your hospitalization. During these sessions, you may also work with your therapist to develop an individual crisis plan that can be used if needed while at South Oaks, as well as a safety plan that can be available to you when you are discharged.

Family sessions, with family members or others involved in your care, may be scheduled with your treatment team. These sessions can provide education, improve communication between you and your support system, and help you and those who care for you discuss what you may need for a successful discharge.

Sensory calming tools, developed to engage the senses in a way that can be calming, are offered on all units; we also have dedicated sensory rooms on the child and adolescent units, where these tools can be used in a safe, secure environment. 

The regular schedule also includes fresh-air breaks that provide an opportunity to spend time outside. 

Some other things to know:

  • If you prefer to speak with the treatment team in your primary language (other than English), let us know. We provide foreign language translation services via phone or video remote services. We also provide American Sign Language interpreters and telephone communication devices for the hearing-impaired.
  • If you have specific dietary needs or allergies, let us know. We will arrange a meeting with our dietitian for you, a family member or other support person, and will try to meet your needs wherever possible.
  • Faith and spiritual needs are an important part of recovery for many people. At South Oaks, we have a pastoral care team available to provide support if desired. If you wish to speak with someone from this team, let the nursing staff know.

Your treatment team

Doctors & nurse practitioners

You will have an attending doctor who is in charge of your care and works with the treatment team in providing treatment. A psychiatric nurse practitioner or physician assistant may work with your doctor and may meet with you and prescribe your medications.


Registered nurses are an important link to your treatment team and are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week to provide care, education and support. Registered nurses will assess your condition and carry out your treatment plan on a daily basis, administering medication and providing any other treatments you may need.


Other team members which maybe an important member of your treatment include: Psychiatrists, Physician Specialists (Internal Medicine, Pediatrics, etc.), Psychologists, Physician’s assistants, Pharmacists, Social workers, Certified alcohol and substance abuse counselors, Occupational therapists, Creative arts therapists, Dieticians and nutritional staff.

Case coordinators

Your case coordinator, a licensed social worker, licensed mental health counselor or registered nurse, may lead your individual, group and/or family sessions. Your case coordinator will also work with you to make a plan for continued treatment after discharge and assist in identifying community resources that might be helpful after hospitalization.

Behavioral health associates

Behavioral health associates are also available day and night for your safety and comfort. These team members help carry out your treatment plan and maintain the daily schedule and routine of the unit. They also encourage group participation, take vital signs and are available to assist you with any self-care activities.

Therapeutic rehabilitation professionals

Therapeutic rehabilitation professionals have specialized training in creative arts, therapeutic recreation and occupational therapy. After meeting with you to learn about your strengths and challenges, they will engage you in group sessions to develop coping resources and socialization skills through creative engagement, physical activity, education and other activities.

Assistant counselors

Assistant counselors have specialized education and training in psychology, substance abuse or a related field. They provide emotional support and education in both individual sessions and groups.

Building a supportive network

While you are an admitted patient at South Oaks, your treatment team will work with you to build a supportive network that can be available to you before and after your discharge. During your stay, it may be helpful for your treatment team to talk with your supports at home and in the community. You will be asked to identify who you would like to be involved in your care; this could be a parent, spouse, sibling (brother or sister), child or friend. You will be asked to provide consent, if you’re willing, so your treatment team can discuss your care with these supports. Your care team will also want to identify your community-based healthcare providers in order to develop an effective discharge plan.

Your community support, which may be a family member, friend or caregiver, may be identified as one of the following:

  • Caregiver: the person who will be involved with your discharge. This is the person who will be notified of the expected date of your discharge; your discharge plan will be reviewed with this person.
  • Health Care Agent: the person you choose to make decisions when you are unable to do so. This person, also referred to as a surrogate decision maker, should be identified on your health care proxy document and/ or psychiatric advance directive. He or she may be your legal guardian.
  • Community providers: the professionals who provide mental health care for you when you are not staying in the hospital. They may be your psychiatrist, nurse practitioner, assertive community treatment (ACT) team, case manager or therapist. These people can share important information about your care with the South Oaks team.

Discharge planning

To help you move toward the goal of successful re-entry into your community, discharge planning will begin as soon as you meet your treatment team. Discharge planning is a collaborative effort; your treatment team will ask about your progress, concerns and goals, and will speak with family and friends who you have identified as involved in your care. As you get ready for discharge, we work with you to make sure you understand your medications, as well as the plan for your care after hospitalization, your safety plan and any instructions from your clinicians.