Cleveland Clinic Opens First Food Allergy Center in Northern Ohio

The Food Allergy Center of Excellence will provide multidisciplinary care for preventing, treating and diagnosing food allergies

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Andrea Pacetti 216-316-3040

Cleveland Clinic has opened the first food allergy center in northern Ohio. The Cleveland Clinic Food Allergy Center of Excellence (FACE) will offer comprehensive, individualized care to adult and pediatric patients with food allergies. The center features a multidisciplinary team consisting of allergists, pediatric psychologists and registered dieticians who work collaboratively to prevent, diagnose, study and treat food allergies and diseases caused by reactions to food, while also conducting research related to food allergies.

The center will be located at the Cleveland Clinic Strongsville Family Health Center. The 2,400-square-foot center will feature a large, interactive observation space that includes video gaming for patients undergoing food challenge tests to determine or confirm a suspected allergy, which can take several hours. The FACE providers will also soon offer services at other Cleveland Clinic locations, as well as virtual appointments.  Food allergy experts will also take part in community outreach, with the center being a hub for allergy education initiatives.

Sandra Hong, M.D.

The center will offer cutting-edge therapy, including oral immunotherapy for properly selected patients with certain allergies. Oral immunotherapy involves slowly exposing a patient to the allergen, beginning at very low amounts and working up to a target dose. For those with certain food allergies, this could allow the patient to tolerate small doses, providing some protection in the case of accidental exposure. Oral immunotherapy can also be used as a way to prevent allergies in carefully selected patients that are at high risk for them.

Providers in the center will also be targeting infants and children at high risk for developing food allergies with early introduction therapies

“Until recently, all we could offer our patients and families with food allergies was avoidance,” said Sandra Hong, M.D., director of the Food Allergy Center of Excellence. “However, oral immunotherapy has ushered in a new era for food allergy patients. We are excited to be able to offer this therapy to carefully selected patients who can benefit from it as a treatment or prevention strategy.”

Jaclyn Bjelac, M.D.

The center is equipped to care for the multifaceted needs of patients with food allergies. Frequently, these patients have additional allergic diseases including allergic rhinitis, eczema and asthma. Patients or family members also often suffer from anxiety, isolation and bullying due to their allergies.

“Food allergies affect many aspects of a patient’s life – far more than just their diet,” said Jaclyn Bjelac, M.D., associate director of the Food Allergy Center of Excellence. “That’s why the center is designed to care for the whole patient and their loved ones. We want them to feel prepared and confident about their futures.”

In addition, providers at the FACE will care for patients with disease processes which can be associated with foods such as eczema, eosinophilic esophagitis, food protein proctocolitis, and food protein-induced enterocolitis syndrome.

An estimated 32 million people in the United States have food allergies, including approximately 8% of children. The CDC reports that prevalence of food allergies among children increased 50% between 1997 and 2011.

About Cleveland Clinic
Cleveland Clinic is a nonprofit multispecialty academic medical center that integrates clinical and hospital care with research and education. Located in Cleveland, Ohio, it was founded in 1921 by four renowned physicians with a vision of providing outstanding patient care based upon the principles of cooperation, compassion and innovation. Cleveland Clinic has pioneered many medical breakthroughs, including coronary artery bypass surgery and the first face transplant in the United States. U.S. News & World Report consistently names Cleveland Clinic as one of the nation’s best hospitals in its annual “America’s Best Hospitals” survey. Among Cleveland Clinic’s 67,554 employees worldwide are more than 4,520 salaried physicians and researchers, and 17,000 registered nurses and advanced practice providers, representing 140 medical specialties and subspecialties. Cleveland Clinic is a 6,026-bed health system that includes a 165-acre main campus near downtown Cleveland, 18 hospitals, more than 220 outpatient facilities, and locations in southeast Florida; Las Vegas, Nevada; Toronto, Canada; Abu Dhabi, UAE; and London, England. In 2019, there were 9.8 million total outpatient visits, 309,000 hospital admissions and observations, and 255,000 surgical cases throughout Cleveland Clinic’s health system. Patients came for treatment from every state and 185 countries. Visit us at clevelandclinic.org. Follow us at twitter.com/CCforMedia and twitter.com/ClevelandClinic. News and resources available at newsroom.clevelandclinic.org.