Dayton Children’s Hospital
This week I had the great honor of experiencing the unveiling of the Dayton Children’s Hospital‘s new patient tower. More than $140 million dollars were poured into the new construction at the Valley Street Campus, and the results are simply stunning. While I was there to learn more about children with Celiac Disease and the care they receive, I couldn’t help but be completely overwhelmed by the pure and true passion of every person I encountered. This new tower will provide cutting edge medicine for the children in our communities, and the patients and families are sure to feel comforted my the endless attention to detail on every floor.
I had the opportunity to visit with an Ambassador Family of Dayton Children’s. Luke Bemus suffers from Celiac Disease as well as Cystic Fibrosis, and a rare liver disease. With stays ranging from two to four weeks at a time, it is imperative that he receives foods that are not only gluten-free, but also high in calories and sodium. Luke’s Mom, Tammy, could not be happier with the meals provided by the culinary staff. “They will call us and and say ‘we see Luke is back. What is he eating these days and what is he hungry for’? They will actually go shopping for him and have even asked me for recipes that I make at home so they can make familiar foods.” Luke’s Dad, Dave, added “They really understand and appreciate Luke’s daily needs and it’s hard to even count how many times they have accommodated him.”
The Culinary Team’s praise was so high, I decided to seek out the person behind this special care, and luckily Jeff, the head of this wondrous culinary team was there in the crowd. He graciously took the time to speak with me and it became instantly clear that his attention to patients needs was no urban legend.
“It’s been a real evolution over the past sixteen years here for me. Special diets, and certainly gluten-free needs, where not very prominent and we have changed a lot of our processes to meet the needs of our patients.” Jeff adds, “We get to know the kids and buy what they are used to. I have no business constraints when it comes to taking care of these kids.”
I asked Jeff to step away from the patient aspect for a minute and tell me about gluten-free foods for family members that might be staying with the children. I questioned what they might find in the common cafeteria and vending areas. “We are continuing to grow the options in these areas. For instance, the ‘Up Cafe’ serves coffees and sweets and we have arranged for a pre-wrapped gluten-free cookie to be available in four flavors – and it actually tastes good and won’t be marked up in price just because it’s gluten-free. That’s just not how we do things around here.” Jeff tells me some salads and pre-packaged foods in the cafeteria are also safe and include ingredient labels on each one. “Obviously we can’t have a dedicated kitchen for every allergy, but we do have dedicated tools and everyone in trained for cross contamination.”
While I pray a trip to Dayton Children’s Hospital is never needed, it is comforting to know patients and families with Celiac Disease will have one less worry with Jeff and his culinary team to take care of all of our needs.
“Up Cafe” – Gluten-free pre-packaged cookies in four flavors, coffees, teas, smoothies.
CulinAIRY Cafe – Salads (check the labels) and packaged snacks like nuts and KIND bars.
Altitude Gift Shop – Beef jerky, KIND bars, Metro Deli Chips