Cheryl Shimmin: Thinking ahead

Cheryl Shimmin stays on trend at Kettering Health Network.


Cheryl Shimmin has transformed the Kettering Health Network by:

  • Hiring culinarians to create an upscale, on-trend menu
  • Developing the Boulevard Bakery, a retail outlet that features the system’s housemade baked goods
  • Focusing on healthy dining options without limiting choices
  • Implementing room service at all eight acute-care hospitals
  • Opening two new kitchens and cafeterias within the span of four months

"Forward-thinking" is how people describe Cheryl Shimmin, network director of nutrition services for Kettering Health Network in Dayton, Ohio. That mindset is an asset in this growing system, which by the end of May will include eight acute-care hospitals, two nursing homes and a retirement center.

“Cheryl anticipates as changes need to be made,” says Susan Wilson, director of nutrition services at Grandview and Southview Medical Centers, hospitals within Kettering Health Network. “Our menus for patients and the cafés are more upscale than you find in many places. We do a lot of action stations and display cooking. Our chefs are very visible.”

Culinary talent: Wilson says one of the areas Shimmin’s forward thinking has benefited the system the most is the hiring of culinarians. “We’ve made a commitment to adding culinary expertise,” Shimmin says. “We’ve had an executive chef for 15 years.” In addition to a network executive chef, the individual hospitals have executive chefs or sous chefs. The retirement village has an executive sous chef. The system also has a pastry chef, Michael Leibold. Shimmin says she eventually wants to have an executive chef at each of the system’s eight acute-care hospitals.

All that kitchen talent has helped the system distinguish itself as a culinary powerhouse in the community. The system’s chefs have participated
in the Taste of Kettering, a culinary competition that features dishes made by dozens of the city’s restaurants and dining facilities. Kettering Health

Network has placed third twice and second once. “When [people attending the event] find out where we are located, it’s always fun to tell them we’re located in a hospital and run by a hospital foodservice department,” Shimmin says.

Shimmin says plate presentation and staying on trend are two areas where the culinarians have really helped the system to distinguish its foodservice department.

For example, the executive chef at the Sycamore Glen Retirement Center changed the service from a traditional setting to restaurant style. In addition to the service change, the menu has been changed to appeal to current as well as future residents. Items like an Asian salmon or offering chicken in different presentations are joining traditional favorites like meatloaf. The retirement center is surrounded by 112 independent living garden homes.

“The goal of the retirement center is when these individuals need to move into a facility with a higher level of care, they will select to move into our center,” Shimmin says. “Our goal is to show them from a culinary standpoint what they can get from us.”

Shimmin says catering from the retirement center to the garden homes has increased nearly tenfold since the menu switch.

Another population the system’s chefs have helped to reach is the students at Kettering College, which is located on the system’s campus. “We’re targeting not just our employee base but also the 18- to 30-year old generation,” Shimmin says. Shimmin hopes to start a smoothie/sandwich concept at the college, but for now the college students eat at the Kettering Medical Center, primarily at the Atrium Grille and Deli, a Panera Bread-type concept. The Atrium Grille has targeted the college students by running happy hour promotions during the operation’s slow times. There is also a delivery service for the college run from the Atrium Grille.

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