Departments & Services
While weight reduction is certainly a principal component of a dietitian’s role, it is only one of the many valuable services they provide. Dietitians and nutritionists are important members of the entire health care team. Not only do they oversee the food and nutrition programs for hospitals and medical centers, they consult daily with the medical staff to develop individualized plans for hospitalized patients based on the person’s specific nutritional needs, such as those related to illness, surgery, allergies, intolerances, or other concerns.
Dietitians also work with patients who are recovering from illnesses such as stroke or heart attack, those who have suffered traumas, or who are undergoing treatment such as radiation or chemotherapy. They also design care plans for patients that are unable to eat and drink by conventional means and therefore must be fed through a feeding tube or intravenously.
These situations, and others, require specialized nutritional attention in order to rebuild and fortify the body’s ability to function at optimal levels, as well as to guard against future problems.
Catherine Schneider, Clinical Dietitian with The William W. Backus Hospital, explains, “Patients in cardiac rehabilitation programs, for example, often need to learn and adopt new eating habits for the rest of their lives; ideally, a diet low in cholesterol and fat, and moderately low in salt.
Sometimes making these diet modifications is difficult, but it is one positive step they can take towards improving their health. Backus Hospital’s nutritional counseling department also promotes sound eating habits through education and awareness programs.
“A person’s health is dependent upon many factors, including one’s sex, genetic makeup, environmental factors, physical activity levels, and nutrition – what we choose to eat and drink” explains Catherine, “Of these, nutrition and physical activity are two factors that we can control in order to live longer, healthier lives.”
Through proper nutrition and regular exercise, it is possible to decrease our risk of many serious health conditions such as heart disease, obesity, osteoporosis, diabetes, and cancer. Catherine, along with the other professionals of the nutritional counseling department, conducts a variety of patient education programs for adults and children including classes, lectures, and free screenings in the community such as health fairs.
Catherine has also participated in one on one medical nutritional therapy in the past; “now, she says, “we have one dietitian who does all the scheduling and outpatient counseling, and two dietitians that see patients at the Diabetes Medical Center, among other duties,” Catherine says. “Incorporating good dietary habits, getting regular exercise, and abstaining from smoking are three important things we can do to prevent disease and to help us stay healthy,” Catherine says.
Talk to your physician about the possibility of consulting with a dietitian regarding you or a loved one’s personal nutritional goals or special needs, or contact the Medical nutrition therapy office.