Earlier this month I had the honor of touring the Celiac Ward of the Children's National Medical Center. And I have to say it truly was an honor. This hospital exceeds any expectations one could ever have for the care of their child. From mind-blowing research projects and technology to simple touches like stickers to decorate the children's oxygen masks, this hospital thinks of everything.
Children's National has been consistently ranked among the top pediatric hospitals by U.S. News &World Report. I understand why after my tour. Some of my highlights were witnessing a 3-d printer in progress and holding a miniature printing of a child's heart that was made for surgeons to plan their approach in a surgery. In a research and technology lab, I saw them building physical therapy robots that will help children practice their exercises at home and a facial recognition program that will be able to determine from a photograph of a newborn child if they will have any markers for a disease later in life. I felt like I was walking through some science fiction world and yet these amazing people were making these fantastical ideas true to life.
I felt immediately at home during my time spent in the Celiac Disease Program wing. We were cooked an amazing lunch in their beautiful kitchen and were walked through the comprehensive services a newly diagnosed patient would receive. They treat each child with a five part approach which consists of 1. Treating the child's medical needs 2. Meeting their psychological needs 3. Educating and training healthcare providers to better diagnose and treat celiac disease 4. Providing community outreach and advocacy and 5. Conducting research to better diagnose and treat celiac in the future. By addressing all of these components the program takes a comprehensive look at the disease and the needs of the children and their families.
The Celiac Disease Program has developed an expansive collection of resources for the children and their families. They have nutrition and cooking classes which help improve knowledge and compliance of a gluten-free diet. The classes consist of topics like Gluten-Free 101, Nutrition and Gluten-Free Baking, School Lunch Safety, and Traveling while Gluten-Free and more. For more information and to view a schedule of classes go to www.ChildrensCookingClasses.org.
They also provide a Getting Started Handbook and Kit to each newly diagnosed child. The handbook and kit walks the families through every aspect of managing the gluten-free diet including preventing cross contamination, going to school, taking medications and much more. They also have educational forums for schools, mentorship programs, support groups and an annual Gluten-Free Expo. Through these fantastic outreach programs the Celiac Disease Program has been able to not only build a supportive community for their patients, but they also provide valuable information for enriching the children's lives moving forward.
I was beyond impressed by all the Celiac Disease Program does. To be diagnosed with Celiac will never be a pleasant experience, however by the great work and support of the amazing staff at the Celiac Disease Program, it no longer needs to be a frightening and depressing experience. They demonstrate every day that life will go on and you can even still thrive.
For information on how readers like you can support the Celiac Disease Program continue reading below.
Some fun ways you can make a difference.