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

Baked fresh: One new retail concept created to feature the system’s culinary talents was The Boulevard Bakery in the Kettering Medical Center, which opened in September 2010.

The concept serves Caribou Coffee as well as a variety of baked goods made on site by Leibold and his staff of four bakers. The location sells items such as Danish, scones, low-fat cookies, decorated iced cookies and cakes. Between 20 and 30 decorated cakes are sold from the bakery each week. During the holiday season, frozen piecrusts are sold from the bakery. “We sell oodles to the employees and community,” Shimmin says. “We’re selling five piecrusts for $6 and it costs maybe $2 at the most to produce that. It’s a pretty good moneymaker for us.”

Another Leibold special are chocolate bombs, which are caramel nuggets surrounded by chocolate mousse, dipped in chocolate and given a crunchy bottom. Shimmin says community members often purchase the chocolate bombs to use at their own events.

Shimmin wants to expand the Boulevard Bakery concept into the system’s other hospitals.

Healthy choices: Even with the decadence offered by the bakery, the network has a goal of promoting healthy dining with an educational background. The system is run by the Seventh Day Adventist Church, so there is a strong vegetarian focus. The cafés serve meat; however, most of the daily menu options have a meat-free alternative.

“We try to incorporate healthy alternatives, such as edamame, hummus and quinoa salads,” Shimmin says. “At our hot deck, where we serve homestyle favorites like pot roast, we always have a vegetarian alternative. We’re looking at portion size. You can have your sweets and not go overboard. We’re trying to promote healthier products like whole grains into customers’ diets.”

At the newly opened Soin Medical Center, the café is incorporating the Full Plate Diet, a wellness program that incorporates more fresh food and fiber into the diet. The hospital’s café features items such as whole-grain pasta, brown rice and barley. “We believe in choice and then educate to the choice rather than taking everything away,” Shimmin says. She is accomplishing this by putting healthy items at eye level and moving less healthy items out of the line of sight.

Shimmin says the system’s retail cafés are working toward a standardized base menu, to which the different hospitals can add their own specialties.

Room service: Retail customers aren’t the only ones seeing changes in their service and menu. Shimmin and her team are in the process of implementing room service at all eight acute-care hospitals, which will be completed by the end of the year.

Room service was implemented at Kettering and Sycamore Medical Centers in 2007. Soin Medical Center, which opened Feb. 22, was designed with a room service kitchen. When Grandview Medical Center opens a new tower in May, the nutrition services department will relocate to the tower. The new kitchen will be equipped for room service. Grandview is currently using a traditional trayline service.

The hospital with the biggest change to get ready for room service will be Fort Hamilton Hospital, which currently uses cook-chill for its patient service.

“It’s like giving birth,” Shimmin says about changing all the hospitals to room service. “You think, ‘Why are we doing this again?’ You realize why you did it and then you get in the midst of it and you think, ‘I will get through this.’”

Shimmin admits the department is undergoing a lot of change in a short period of time. She also admits that she didn’t think she would be the one making these changes. When Shimmin, who grew up in the Dayton area, moved to Dallas in 1981 for her dietetic internship, she said she would never return to Dayton. When she did in 1984, she said it would be “for a little while.” Shimmin became network director last year after working at Kettering for the past 28 years.

For her part, Wilson is glad Shimmin has stuck around. “Cheryl’s greatest attribute is she is very supportive of the management team and all the employees,” Wilson says. “You can always count on her to do the right thing in any situation.”

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