Thrive by IU Health

May 27, 2021

Hospital dietitian first came to IU Health as a pediatric patient

IU Health University Hospital

Hospital dietitian first came to IU Health as a pediatric patient

Long before she even knew about careers in healthcare, Jennifer Golding was a patient at Riley Hospital for Children at IU Health. She knows what it’s like to be on the receiving end of treatment.

By IU Health Senior Journalist T.J. Banes,

Like her coworkers, Jennifer Golding says the best part of her job is interacting with patients and knowing that she’s helping them. Unlike some of her coworkers, Golding was first introduced to IU Health as a patient.

Born with Spina bifida, Golding, 44, was just a few days old when she was admitted to Riley Hospital for Children at IU Health. Spina bifida is a type of neural tube defect that doesn't allow the spinal cord to close or form as it should. There are varying degrees of severity with Spina bifida and can affect many different areas of the body.

Golding’s first surgery was to close up her spine. Since then she has had close to 25 surgeries. She was once a March of Dimes poster child and also shared her story in a 1980s issue of Indianapolis Monthly Magazine featuring Indiana native David Letterman on the cover.

Golding Childhood Photo

“I know what it feels like to be a patient so I try to treat my patients the way I’d want to be treated,” said Golding, a graduate of Avon High School. In school she was active in Girl Scouts, and was a manager for girls basketball and volleyball. After graduation she attended Ball State University – a campus she said she chose because of its accessibility.

“Up until fifth grade I was in a full body brace and walked with a walker. Then I had some surgeries and setbacks and it got to a point where it was difficult so I’ve been in a wheelchair ever since,” said Golding.

These days she’s seen zipping through the hallways at IU Health University Hospital where she has worked for 20 years as a dietetic technician. Her focus is on educating patients about healthy eating. At one point she also worked at Riley Hospital.

“I see a lot of repeat patients, some who are here for weeks,” said Golding. “It feels really good to help them. The most challenging thing is working with families who are anxious or upset and you work to build a rapport with them so that things get easier each time you meet them.”

Over the years, her job has become second nature to her.

“Some people wonder what happened and why I’m in a wheelchair but I’ve never really known life any other way,” said Golding. “One of my big things has always been I can do anything. I just do it differently.” She added that her parents, Mary and Joe Golding pushed her at a young age to excel. She also has an older brother, Joe Golding.

Golding family photo

Outside of her job, Golding can be found at Friday night football games cheering for her nephew or visiting her niece at IU Bloomington. She sometimes participates in 5K races. Throughout her life she has traveled around the United States, including Hawaii, and took a trip to Europe in high school.

“I’ve learned over time that you, can’t let it stop you. You’ve got to figure out how to make things work and live your life.”



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