I am the “I” in IWK — Holly Gilgan

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Holly Gilgan is a clinical dietitian in the Children’s Health Program at the IWK where she works with Cardiology, General Surgery, the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit, Plastics and Orthopedics. Although that list is long, Gilgan has been with the IWK for 20 years and the list of her experiences and expertise across two decades is even longer.

“I’ve worked as a food service supervisor in the kitchen and as clinical dietitian on PMU, in Mental Health with patients with eating disorder as well as in Rehab, Women’s Health, Metabolics and the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit,” says Gilgan. “I love everything about the IWK: the people, the families and of course being able to work with kids. It is so rewarding to be part of teams that have a huge impact in helping families through difficult times.”

On a typical day Gilgan starts off by reading emails and checking bloodwork. From there she attends rounds on the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit, then heads to the Medical Surgical Neurosciences Unit to check on patients and ensure all total parenteral nutrition orders are in before noon (also known as intravenous or IV nutrition feeding). Gilgan uses her lunch hour to energize herself for the afternoon, often going for an 8km power walk on her lunch break. In the afternoon she sees more patients across the inpatient units and outpatient clinics or spends her time teaching students.

Nutrition is vital as part of the treatment in Gilgans’ areas of service; whether she is optimizing the nutrition status of critical care patients with timely nutrition support for better outcomes or ensuring adequate growth and development of infants and children with congenital heart disease, short gut and cleft palate in preparation for surgery and during the recovery period.

“Dietitians at the IWK do more than put kids on diets (which is what my mom thinks I do),” jokes Gilgan. “Dietitians here at the IWK provide state-of-the-art nutrition care including making sure that newborn babies grow and develop even with challenging diagnosis, providing much-needed nutrition support during and after cancer treatments, making insulin adjustments for patients with diabetes, providing ketogenic diet plans to prevent seizures or provide counseling for eating disorder patients. Nutrition care is a vital service across all areas of care at the IWK.”

March 17, 2021 is Dietitian’s Day in Canada. To learn more, visit dietitians.ca.