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On a recent weekday Gregory Fleming loaded a cart and headed to a patient’s room to deliver a warm meal. It was nothing out of the ordinary but somehow Fleming made the job extraordinary.
“I love meeting people from all walks of life. A lot of us feel like we have problems but we can’t understand what problems are until we meet patients, their families and loved ones. I see how sickness effects everyone,” said Fleming. When he’s not delivering meals, he’s cooking or working the line in the kitchen at IU Health University Hospital.
Making connections is important to him. He often sees nurses, doctors and family members come through the cafeteria line after he has delivered a meal to their patient’s bedside.
“He is one of the kindest people I know. He always greets me with a hug. I was brand new a year and half ago and I saw him interacting with a family. I didn’t know who he was but he was so kind, it made me excited to be part of the team,” said Tamra Holaday, a departmental secretary at IU Health University Hospital.
“Greg is always positive and has a great sense of humor. He’s always telling jokes or singing. He just brightens your day,” said Clinical Nurse Amy Leach.
A native of Mississippi, Fleming moved to Indianapolis in 2008, shortly after his mother’s death.
“She was the backbone of our family and after we lost her, I just needed a change,” said Fleming, who is one of eight children. He and his wife Tajuana looked for places to raise their own family, including six children between the ages of 13 and 25, and they settled on Indianapolis.
“Everyone thought I was crazy for just packing up and moving, but it had to be a God thing because when I first got here, I worked mainly at Simon Cancer Center. My dad is fighting prostate cancer and I’ve been able to relate more to him because of the patients I’ve met,” said Fleming.
“Greg makes a point to know patients by their first names and learn all their food preferences. He is a dear man with a beautiful kind heart,” said Jane Wood a nurse in the medical progressive care unit.
When a patient doesn’t feel like eating, Fleming still makes sure they have a tray. He’s learned some of the favorite meals that bring them the comforts of home.
“They like the pot roast and mashed potatoes,” he says. And staff members and families?
“They look forward to cheesy potatoes in the morning and the taco bar on Tuesdays.”
-- By T.J. Banes, Associate Senior Journalist at IU Health. Reach Banes via email at T.J. Banes or on Twitter @tjbanes.