Employee Heartbeat – Food for the Soul

How Melissa Heuer, Senior Director of Nutrition and Hospitality, contributes to the success of the Hospital

At Bethany Children’s Health Center, our employees truly are the heartbeat that drives the organization. Every day, through the care and service they provide, they live our mission of maximizing the potential of every child and exemplify our core values of compassion, integrity, excellence, service and stewardship.

We hope you enjoy getting to know our amazing employees through our Heartbeat profiles.

There are many factors that go into keeping a hospital clean and ensuring that patients get the best care possible.  Melissa Heuer, who is the Senior Director of Nutrition and Hospitality, believes that good nutrition is essential for healing.

“It’s important that we work hard to provide patients with good food so they will be nourished and get well as quickly as possible,” she says. But nutrition isn’t just for patients at Bethany Children’s. “I appreciate that nutrition is a valued part of the culture here and we have an emphasis on wellness for our employees, as well as our patients,” Melissa explains.

Melissa started her career as a social worker and enjoyed working with children. She also loved cooking and meal planning, which is how she ended up studying dietetics and subsequently pediatric nutrition. “Children are so resilient, and I liked the idea of teaching them about nutrition early,” she says. “I was also the rare dietitian who liked food service management since I enjoyed menu planning.”

In 2010, a friend showed her a job posting for Nutrition Services Director at The Children’s Center Rehabilitation Hospital (now Bethany Children’s) and Melissa applied. “I didn’t have a lot of experience, but I am grateful to Carol Gray and Mrs. Cermak for taking a chance on me.” 

Melissa eventually left the Hospital to work for a much larger organization but returned to her current position at Bethany Children’s in 2021. “I have a greater appreciation for the change I can effect here, the dedication to excellence, the support staff and the administration at Bethany Children’s,” she admits.

Melissa loves getting to know the employees in the departments she oversees, which include housekeeping, laundry, nutrition services and guest relations. “I find problem solving and creating new, efficient systems for each of the departments rewarding. One of my favorite aspects of my job is working in Computrition, our nutrition software system,” she says. Of course, she also loves sampling new foods and giving feedback.

As a licensed dietitian, Melissa knows that poor nutrition can lead to a variety of health problems. She stresses a balanced diet, and not taking nutrition too far one way or the other. “It’s good to be aware of what you put into your body and how it affects you. Often people overdo healthy food or overdo the junk food. They want a fad diet or a pill to ‘be healthy’ or lose weight. Eat your fruits and vegetables, but eat cake too!” she advises.

In recognition of National Nutrition Month, Melissa expresses her admiration for the Nutrition Services team at Bethany Children’s, saying, “Your work is valuable and integral in helping our patients heal. Without food and formula, our patients would not be able to complete their rehabilitation. We count on you to go the extra mile to give our patients and their families excellent services and nourishment. Thank you for all you do for our hospital.”

Fun Facts

Something people might not know: “For the last six years, I’ve been a Cub Scout den leader.”

Favorite ways to spend free time: “With my husband, kids and my shih tzu Norman, reading, cooking, and traveling.”

Favorite food: “Tacos or Mediterranean food. It’s hard to pick one!”

Favorite quote: “If you understand as I do, mentoring becomes your true legacy. It is the greatest inheritance you can give to others. It is why you get up every day – to teach and be taught.” John Wooden

Three words a friend would use to describe you: Dependable, funny, hard working

From the Bucket List: “Visit all 50 states, learn a foreign language well enough to get by in another country, grow a vegetable and herb garden.”

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