The CHOC Children’s Feeding Program is made up of a multidisciplinary team of experts specially trained to treat children with feeding problems. The team works closely with the child’s family to determine the right therapies and treatments to help each child learn to eat by mouth and enjoy mealtime.
The feeding team is led by Mitchell Katz, MD. Dr. Katz is board certified in both pediatrics and pediatric gastroenterology. He is Director of the Multidisciplinary Feeding Program, the Division Chief of Gastroenterology/Nutrition Division, and Ambulatory Network Development Director. Dr. Katz provides the initial medical screening for all patients before they meet the team and guides the team in determining appropriate care for patients who receive an outpatient evaluation. During inpatient treatment, Dr. Katz monitors each child’s medical status and progress toward his or her goals. He is the child’s biggest fan and encourager along the way. Learn more about Dr. Katz and his vision for the Multidisciplinary Feeding Program at CHOC Children’s.
Robyn Robinson is a certified pediatric nurse practitioner. In addition caring for many patients in the CHOC gastroenterology practice, she coordinates the Multidisciplinary Feeding Program and addresses the medical situations of its patients. Robyn has her Master of Science in Nursing from California State University, Long Beach and has been working as a nurse practitioner with the Gastroenterology Division at CHOC Children’s since 2001. Working with Dr. Katz in the outpatient evaluation process, Robyn evaluates each patient’s medical conditions and rules out and addresses any medical problems that may be making eating by mouth difficult. Together, Dr. Katz and Robyn also collaborate with each child’s primary care physician, and during inpatient treatment, oversee medical and pharmaceutical interventions and manage common conditions like reflux, constipation, and hydration as well as instances of acute illness like fever or vomiting.
A clinical psychologist works with all patients and families going through the feeding program. During the outpatient evaluation process, the psychologist evaluates each child’s developmental readiness for learning feeding skills and takes a close look at the family’s mealtime routine and relationships. For patients and families who enter the 19-day inpatient program, the psychologist provides education and guidance to help the parent better understand behavioral strategies being used in feeding sessions. The psychologist also provides psychotherapeutic interventions to assist the child and family with anxiety, coping and behavior management throughout the hospitalization.
Clinical Social Worker
A highly trained social worker, experienced in working with children with feeding disorders, works with patients and families during the outpatient evaluation process. She assesses the structure of each family, and the availability of support systems and coping mechanisms as they relate to the child’s feeding issues. For families who undergo our 19-inpatient feeding program, the social worker assists families with the adjustment to the program and provides psychosocial support to parents and children so that they can positively cope and respond to the feeding interventions. She also supports families with the transition back to home and school following discharge from the program.
Speech Therapists and Occupational Therapists
The Multidisciplinary Feeding Program’s occupational therapists and speech therapists are second-to-none when it comes to evaluating and treating children with complex feeding problems. During the outpatient evaluation process, the therapists assess each child’s feeding abilities, sensory integration issues and behaviors surrounding eating. They also evaluate the relationship and interactions between each child and his or her caregiver during mealtimes. For families undergoing treatment in the inpatient program, the therapists help the child advance in their ability to eat by mouth and teach the parents strategies to maintain the progress that the child is making.
The registered dietitian is a very important part of the feeding team. During the outpatient evaluation process, she assesses the level and quality of the nutrition and hydration each child is currently getting by G-Tube and by mouth. Once a patient is admitted to the inpatient feeding program, the dietitian determines each patient’s needs for calories and fluids, monitor each child’s growth and nutrition and provide nutritional guidance and support.The dietitian also educates families on age-appropriate portion sizes and meal planning.
The diet technician works with the parent during the inpatient admission to assist with meal planning and food selection. She works with the kitchen to make sure that the child receives the food needed for each therapeutic meal.
Child Life Specialist
The Multidisciplinary Feeding Program’s certified child life specialist works with children to provide developmental play-based activities, including food play and art therapy, to help each child adjust to their hospital stay and further their feeding therapy and goals. She also oversees the playroom where the child spends time playing in between meal sessions.
Financial Coordinator and Case Manager
The financial coordinator and case manager work with patients and families to get the necessary authorizations for evaluations and treatments and coordinate appointments and paperwork. Once a family is undergoing treatment in the inpatient program, these important team members continue to get necessary authorizations for services and communicate with insurance company throughout admission to provide updates. They also coordinate paperwork and appointments at the end of treatment and during follow-ups.
The bedside nurses work with patients and their caregivers while they undergo inpatient treatment. The nurses administer medications and G-Tube feedings as needed and assist the family with any needs that arise.
Complimentary Integrated Medicine Practitioner
The Complimentary Integrated Medicine Practitioner consults with some patients to provide them with therapies that best compliment their current scope of treatment. She offers Chinese medicine therapies of acupuncture and acupressure, moxibustion, and tui na, as well as herbal treatments. She also works with patients using Japanese Reiki therapy and guided imagery. These complimentary therapies have been show to strengthen immunity; ease stress, anxiety, and pain; and help with loss of appetite.
The most important member of the child’s care team is the parent or guardian who stays with the child while inpatient at CHOC. The child’s caregiver works along side the rest of the child’s team each day and participates in weekly team conferences. The caregiver is encouraged to provide feedback, suggestions and goals for the child’s treatment. With consistent collaboration, the team works together toward the goals for each child.