March is Nutrition Month and March 15 marks Dietitians Day. In recognition of these two important events, we’re taking a look at how Scarborough and Rouge Hospital’s (SRH) outstanding team of Registered Dietitians (RDs) make a difference in the lives of our patients, teaching them about the right food choices and sharing knowledge that empowers them to improve their own health.
At SRH, inpatient dietitians are valued members of the health care team who work collaboratively with physicians, nurses, speech language pathologists, physiotherapists, and pharmacists to create plans that aim to optimize patients’ nutrition while in hospital.
“We are the experts in alternative feeding methods, such as tube feeds and parenteral nutrition, and we ensure best practice guidelines are met,” said Leanne Ingram, an RD at the Centenary site. “We also can provide education to patients and families where questions about their diet exist.”
Equally important, RDs at SRH are involved in many committees and actively participate in student mentorship.
Dietitians also provide nutrition counseling services to outpatients on a referral basis. Paediatric issues that RDs are involved in include infant/toddler feeding problems, failure to thrive, allergies, and childhood obesity. For adults, dietitians commonly provide counselling for issues such as irritable bowel disease/syndrome, liver disease, dyslipidemia, and obesity.
“Many of the patients I see have been recent inpatients at the hospital. Outpatient services are an excellent way to deliver continued care and nutritional support to patients,” said Caroline Brown, an outpatient dietitian at the Centenary site.
“In our practice with chronic kidney disease, we monitor the patient’s diet and blood work to help them address what they can eat in the hopes of delaying the progression of kidney disease and the need for dialysis,” said Winnie Yung, an RD at the General site.
“For patients in the dialysis clinics, we continue to help them make better food choices, so that what they eat minimizes harmful fluctuations in the blood tests and improves nutrition status.”
RDs in the Diabetes Education Program (DEP) find themselves in a unique, dynamic and complex role. Working within a multidisciplinary team as the experts in nutrition, and as Certified Diabetes Educators (CDEs), RDs are required to have in-depth knowledge of all aspects of diabetes management.
All types of diabetes patients are seen in the DEP, from newly diagnosed Type 1, and Type 2 diabetes patients, to those with longstanding disease and associated co-morbidities. “We also help women with gestational diabetes to manage their blood sugar to achieve optimal outcomes for both mother and baby,” adds Grace Lee, an RD and CDE in the DEP.
Dietary intervention is one of the key components of diabetes management; the goal of treatment is to normalize blood sugar levels, lipids, and blood pressure, while ensuring adequate nutritional intake.
In addition to the DEP in the hospital, RDs participate in outreach events, such as health fairs and education programs.
Outside of the DEP, RDs also care for paediatric diabetes patients, teaching children and their families how to balance their food and insulin to maintain good blood sugar control. “We encourage kids and families to eat a healthy balanced diet, which includes a variety of different foods so that they grow and develop properly,” said Joanna Balge, an outpatient dietitian at the Centenary site
Healthy Outcomes Paediatric Program for Scarborough (HOPPS)
Launched in 2015, HOPPS is a program for children and young people between the ages of two and 17, who are facing issues with body weight and related health conditions. RDs are an important part of the interprofessional team that supports patients and their families in the HOPPS program, helping them make important lifestyle changes that will lead to improved health, stronger bodies, and a better quality of life.