May 7, 2019 — When I walked up to the Clinical Nutrition team’s office door today, I was greeted with a challenge.

My first order of business: beat the team’s “escape room” challenge

My mission, should I choose to accept it, was to “escape” their office by completing a series of puzzles based on some of their key duties and big wins. They were kind enough to give me a bit of a leg up, noting that “it’s not all meal planning and food ordering.” Eager to learn about the ins and outs of our clinical dietitians’ roles, as well as earn my reward (lunch), I turned the doorknob and prepared to put my knowledge to the test.

With the guidance of Nutrition Services Supervisor Lora Beaston and clinical dietitians including Dora and Angela (who was also the mastermind behind the escape room concept), I made my way through three challenges, each resulting in a clue that took me to my next task. First, I needed to match a series of numbers to some important team statistics. The correct responses to stats 1, 3 and 5 would then provide me with a combination to unlock my clue!

Seeing a familiar face as I met my first challenge made it feel less daunting. Go Gators!

When I determined how many registered dietitians Rady Children’s has on its Clinical Nutrition team (28), the number of outpatient clinics dietitians work in along with the Nutrition Clinic (also 28 — impressive!) and how many competencies the team offers Food Service and clinical dietitians each year (20), I put together a puzzle that sent me along to task two.

I added key letters hidden within guidelines for parenteral nutrition, or feeding a patient intravenously, to find the location of my next clue. I then moved on to my final challenge, Malnutrition Mania.

Cracking the parenteral nutrition code

I learned that Rady Children’s places a great deal of emphasis on identifying and treating malnutrition in patients. This can be quite common in kids facing conditions that affect their appetite or ability to consume, digest or glean nutrients from food. One of the Clinical Nutrition’s team’s most-used mottos is “screen and intervene,” and they told me that each morning, they make inpatient rounds to monitor children for healthy weight and “provide adequate nutrition to heal.”

I beat Malnutrition Mania!

Well said, and it’s so inspiring to know how dedicated these experts are to supporting optimal health in our patients! To wrap up the challenge, I was asked to guess how much revenue loss was prevented during the first year the team was able to code for malnutrition monitoring. Once I landed on $402,094, my guides and I made our great escape to lunch.

Over at the EOB, I was welcomed with a beautiful (and very healthy) spread of food my hosts had waiting for me. Seared tuna, salad, grilled squash with pesto … and those dishes just scratch the surface. Even more enjoyable than my lunch, however, was the fact that I had the opportunity to meet many other members of the Clinical Nutrition team and learn about all of the areas of Rady Children’s in which they make a difference.

Our delicious and nutritious lunch

When it came time to stamp my passport, I made sure to have its artist, Vanessa, help me do the honors. Vanessa drew the graphic herself, and incorporated the Hospital’s overarching mission: “To restore, sustain and enhance the health and development potential of children through excellence in care, education, research and advocacy.”  I think it’s safe to say this team is helping us fulfill this mission every day!

Vanessa helping make my visit official