CDTC is dedicated to the providing our clients with the best health possible, looking at everything that affects their well-being; including nutrition.
For many of us, good nutrition is simply about making healthy food choices that are the key to good mental and physical health. But for the children at Children’s Diagnostic & Treatment Center (CDTC), choosing an apple over candy isn’t the most pressing concern.
Pediatric Dietitian Elizabeth Donahue carries a caseload of about 250 children in the CDTC Extraordinary Children, Healthy Outcomes (ECHO) Program. The boys and girls she sees are all medically fragile and their challenges unique.
Good Nutrition For All Ages
“My favorite, is working with babies,” shares Elizabeth. When it comes to our infants, she is passionate about helping parents work through challenges with everything from low-weight and reflux to rejecting formula and nursing. In fact, one of her first, most-memorable patients was a three-year-old autistic girl still nursing. Working alongside therapists, she successfully helped ween the growing girl to establish a healthy diet.
However, Donahue’s days are not just spent tending to infants’ needs. Her patients run from birth to age 17. So, she spends a lot of time working closely with our kids’ schools to advocate with, and sometimes for, parents whose children require special feeding plans. Children with special needs already struggle with their health and developmental delays that set them behind in school. Having the right sustenance at the appropriate times is not just healthy, it’s imperative.
Working with families also means being an educator. Donahue teaches parents about choosing the right foods for allergies and special dietary needs. And, that also means educating them about how to read food labels. Do you know how many ingredients are really just another word for sugar or milk? Her patients need to know how to identify what they should and should not eat.
Food security is another issue Elizabeth tackles with her families. Her work includes field trips to the store to teach parents to shop smart. Selecting healthy foods for the pickiest eaters, meals and snacks that create good eating habits, and accomplishing all of this without breaking the family’s food budget are all challenges that could potentially become a barrier to good nutrition and good health.
So next time you read about our CDTC’s multidisciplinary approach to care, know that somewhere Elizabeth is working hard to help in her own very special way.