Short Term Unit

Intensive inpatient care for individuals struggling with mood disorders

Focused Mental Health Care

The Short Term Unit (STU) offers highly focused inpatient evaluation for individuals with severe symptoms related to mood disorders, such as depression and anxiety.

A multidisciplinary clinical team works with each patient to develop a treatment plan tailored to the individual’s specific needs. The team includes an attending psychiatrist, clinical social workers, nurses, mental health specialists, and expressive therapists.

Find the care that’s right for you or your loved one. Call us today at 617.855.3141.

Program Leadership

Steven E. Gelda, MD

Steven E. Gelda, MD, Medical Director

Dr. Gelda’s clinical interests and expertise center on stabilizing patients who are in crisis due to environmental and interpersonal factors as well as those experiencing an episode of major mental illness. He focuses on interventions including medication management, TMS, and ECT, as well as those involving the social systems in which patients are embedded such as family, work, and health care systems.

Fernando Rodriguez-Villa, MD

Fernando Rodriguez-Villa, MD, Medical Director, Short Term Unit, North

Dr. Rodriguez-Villa’s main areas of clinical interest include mood disorders, suicide, college mental health, medical education, stigma reduction, and cross-cultural psychiatry. He serves on the Patient Family Advisory Committee and is co-chair of the Stigma Committee at McLean Hospital and is an assistant professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School.

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Michael Grocki, MA, BSN, Nurse Director

Mr. Grocki specializes in the nursing care of adults with depression, anxiety, and personality disorders in an acute inpatient setting. He joined McLean in 2014 as a staff nurse at the Short Term Unit.

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Eliot M. Gelwan, MD, Associate Medical Director

Dr. Gelwan came to McLean in 2020 after broad-ranging, public- and private-sector roles in inpatient psychiatry, systems administration, and community care. He uses psychodynamic, cognitive, and medication-based treatment approaches in combination, and this is embodied in his approach to supervision and teaching as well. His clinical interests include social and cross-cultural issues, emergency psychiatry and crisis stabilization, risk assessment, and diagnostic challenges.

Frequently Asked Questions

Where is the program located?

The Short Term Unit is located on the Belmont campus, on the first floor of the Admissions Building. For more information on directions, parking, and local accommodations, please visit our Maps & Directions page.

What is the length of stay at the program? What happens at discharge?

Inpatient stays are focused on acute stabilization and management of crises as well as psychiatric illness.

Aftercare planning begins on admission and evolves through the patient’s hospital stay.

Are visitors permitted?

Visitors are permitted, following program policies. Visiting hours are 2-8pm, seven days a week.

Please speak to the patient’s treatment team for more information. Additional details can be found on the Visitors page.

Is there access to a phone? Are cellphones and other electronics allowed?

Nurses station north can be reached at 617.855.2564 and nurses station south at 617.855.2515. The patient phone number is 617.855.2372.

A public phone is located on the unit, which patients may use to make outgoing telephone calls. If one patient answers the phone for another patient, we ask that the message be passed on.

Only patients are allowed to answer the patient phone which is turned off overnight. Collect calls are not accepted. Calls should be a maximum of 10 minutes to allow others to use the phone.

If a patient doesn’t have access to a phone, staff can assist in making one personal phone call per day and evening shift. The staff reserves the right to modify phone use to provide for a patient’s safety. All calls to attorneys are attended to as needed.

Cellphones, laptops, tablets, and watches are permitted on the STU. All cellphones must be turned off during group time, whether in group or not. Conversations should be held in quiet and private areas on the unit so as not to disturb other patients.

Patients sign a consent form agreeing to use their phones in a manner that is appropriate, safe, and respectful of others’ privacy. Chargers are available for loan for up to two hours at a time. Computers can be charged once a day during the night shift. Patients must wait until the next day to use their device if the charge is lost during the day/evening.

Please note that patients are liable for any misuse of their phones, and the staff reserves the right to withdraw phone use if necessary.

Patients are asked to respect each individual’s right to privacy. Camera use is not permitted.

What precautions are taken regarding restricted items and sharps?

To ensure patient safety, the following items are not allowed on the unit: alcoholic beverages, drugs/medications, plastic bags, knives/other sharp objects, matches/lighters, glass bottles, mirrors, and glass picture frames.

The psychiatrist may write an order for a patient to be placed on “sharps supervision.” Upon admission, everyone is on sharps supervision until they are seen by a psychiatrist, and it is assessed that they are safe to be unsupervised.

Patients on sharps supervision are observed by a staff member while using any sharp objects (e.g., razors, scissors, tweezers, nail clippers), and staff may withhold certain objects (e.g., razors, spiral notebooks, headphones).

The patient belongings/sharps closet is located in the northeast area, near the large white census board. Patients off supervised sharps can sign out locked items that are permissible on the STU.

Items can be signed out when the patient is ready to use them; they cannot be out for an extended period of time. Patients must return items to staff as soon as they are done.

The sharps/patient belongings closet is closed 2-4pm and 9pm–8am.

Is family involved in treatment?

Contact between family members and clinical social workers, including family meetings, are encouraged when clinically appropriate and permitted by the patient. Family meetings generally take place on weekday afternoons.

What are the general policies of the program?

Important Information

Patient identification wristbands must be worn at all times to ensure correct identification and administration of all medications.


Each day shift, an assigned nurse or mental health specialist checks in with every patient. An assigned evening contact person checks in again at the end of the day.

Throughout the day, nursing staff are available for any needs or concerns. To ensure safety, the psychiatrist orders five- to 15-minute checks. This means that either every five or 15 minutes, a staff member must see that patients are safe and doing well on the unit.

Checks are conducted 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Hall Curfew

Patients are encouraged to remain in their rooms between the hours of 11pm and 6am to promote regular sleeping patterns and optimal sleep hygiene. The dining room and TV room are closed at this time as well.

Unit Permissions and Sign-Out Board

Patients must sign out on the large white census board when they leave the unit. They are asked to include the time they leave, the time they will return, and the destination. Patients must check in with a nurse before leaving on a pass. When they return, patients erase the departure time and destination as confirmation that they are back on the unit.

We use three permission levels at the STU to denote the degree of patient supervision a care team believes is needed at various times during a patient’s stay in the hospital. Only the psychiatrist has the authority to increase a patient’s level, but in the case of an emergent situation regarding safety issues, the nursing staff reserves the right to decrease their level to ensure a patient’s safety.

  • Level 1: Patient is restricted to the unit
  • Level 2: Patient can leave the unit when accompanied by a staff member
  • Level 3: Patient can go off the unit with non-staff (family or friend) during designated times


As smoking has been identified as a major public health risk as well as a fire hazard on the unit, the STU is a smoke-free environment. Smoking or possession of lighters or cigarettes is not permitted on or off the unit during hospitalization. We offer nicotine replacement therapy and other support for smoking cessation.


McLean is not responsible for any patient’s lost, stolen, or broken belongings.

Patients are encouraged to keep no more than $25 on the unit. If a patient has more than that amount of money with them, the excess money should be sent home, or if this is not possible it will be sent to the hospital’s safe.

Room Assignments

We ask that patients keep their rooms clean and not leave any clothes on the floor. Fresh linens are available on the unit.

During their stay, patients may be required to move into a different room for clinical reasons determined by staff. The patient’s cooperation is appreciated.


For sanitary, health, and cleanliness reasons, we ask that patients neither put their feet on the furniture nor lie on the couches in the TV room. Failure to comply will result in closure of the rooms.

Dress Code

Patients are required to dress appropriately on the unit. Patients may wear personal clothing as long as it does not display large areas of bare skin. Shoes, socks, or slippers must be worn at all times for health and safety reasons.


Breakfast, lunch, and dinner are served on the unit.

Mealtimes are:

  • Breakfast: 8am
  • Lunch: 12pm
  • Dinner: 5pm

Patients’ food products should be labeled with their name and date and kept in the kitchen. Foods left in the patient refrigerator unlabeled are disposed of, and after three days (72 hours), personal food is disposed of by the dietary department even if it is labeled.

Patients cannot bring open food or beverage containers into their rooms or the TV room, as it welcomes bugs. Also, patients are expected to clean up after themselves in the kitchen, as it is open to all.


Patients are responsible for washing personal clothing. A laundry room and laundry detergent are available on the unit for use 7:30am-10pm.

For purposes of infection control, we ask patients not to combine their laundry with that of other patients.


The hospital has a mail room. To mail a letter, patients may do so by leaving it at the nurses station. We provide postage.

Incoming packages are examined by a staff member and this is done in the patient’s presence.

Personal Boundaries

We ask that everybody be respectful of each other’s personal boundaries. No physical or sexual contact is permitted between patients or between patients and visitors.

Who is on the treatment team?

The psychiatrist is a physician who is responsible for the patient’s overall treatment plan, including, but not limited to, the prescribing of medications. Each patient meets with their psychiatrist daily.

The social worker works with the patient and their family regarding family issues, discharge planning, and coordinating care with outpatient providers. Each patient meets with their social worker daily.

The registered nurse (RN) is responsible for implementing an individual’s overall treatment plan. Every shift, a nurse is assigned to each patient. The nurse works with the patient in planning day-to-day care. The nurse also provides education regarding medication and illness and wellness management.

The mental health specialist (MHS) meets with each patient for daily assessments, to facilitate access to unit resources, and to liaison between the patient and other members of the treatment team.

The expressive therapist coordinates groups on and off the unit. The group schedule can be found by the large white census board.

Is group therapy a component of patient care?

The STU does not offer individual psychotherapy but does have an active group program.

Patients are encouraged to take every opportunity to attend our wide offering of groups, including daily goals, family issues, medication education, destigmatizing stigma, crisis/illness management, cognitive behavior therapy, dialectical behavior therapy, writing/journaling, and art therapy.

The dining room is closed during group time. Patients are asked to shut off their phones before group begins and to not interrupt the group for phone calls.

Where can more information be found?

Unit staff are available to answer additional questions. More information may also be found in McLean’s patient guides, including Guide to Arriving at McLean Hospital. Paper copies are available upon request.

Patients may also find this video about our admission process a helpful way to understand how it works. Watch now.

Find Care That’s Right for You

Call us today at 617.855.3141 to learn more about treatment options.