California is known as a creative place, and DaVita renal dietitian Carol, does not let her Golden State’s reputation go unproven. Carol’s busy kitchen provides four tasty, kidney-friendly recipes: Lemon Rosemary Pork, Crunchy High Protein Chicken Salad, Super Tuesday Shrimp, Pepper Steak, and California Pork Chops.
As a young woman, Carol mostly enjoyed chemistry and interacting with people. Her mother set a great example as a dedicated dietitian, so Carol followed in her footsteps. “Renal is a challenging and detail-oriented field,” Carol comments.
Born in North Carolina, Carol has also lived in Illinois, Indiana, Wisconsin, Georgia and South Carolina. “I earned two degrees, a bachelor’s and master’s, from University of Illinois,” she says. Carol has been with DaVita for nearly two years and loves the emphasis on fun. “The most rewarding aspect of my job is when patients thank me and mention that I’ve helped improve their quality of life.”
Carol says she makes a difference in patients’ lives by bringing more variety and fun to dialysis days. “We have taste tests, visual teaching tools and conversations during hemodialysis treatments. I really enjoy working with my patients. My approach is hands-on, visual teaching. I think the single most important thing patients can do to improve their health is to control phosphorus.”
A new game Carol helped to introduce is called Phosphorus Island. It is a visual teaching tool located in the lobby of the dialysis center to help patients and their families visualize where they are with their phosphorus lab results. For example, if phosphorus is greater than 5.5, the patient’s icon is shown "drowning" in the ocean with sharks. If phosphorus is less than 5.5, the patient’s icon is shown on brown sand, or if less than 4.5 on green grass. Patients reach paradise when their phosphorus level is at 3.5. DaVita’s phosphorus goal for dialysis patients is 3.5 to 5.5. Phosphorus levels consistently more than 5.5 can lead to heart and bone disease, while too low can be unhealthy too. Phosphorus Island was born when Carol presented an abstract and poster showing improvement in serum phosphorus levels at the National Kidney Foundation’s Spring Clinicals in 2009.
The most surprising and interesting thing Carol says she’s done since starting work at DaVita is the “Phosphorus Binder Dance.” The dance involves shaking sample bottles of phosphorus binders, and patients can request the dance for themselves or for other patients. The dance was the motivation for one patient drawing a cartoon picture and another patient wrote his own song about taking phosphorus binders. “I love it when my dialysis patients request me to do ‘The Phosphorus Binders Dance!’” (As it’s been said, they’re more creative in California.)
Carol’s center is located in Central California. Normal weather is 100-plus degrees, during summer, with fog in the winter, and 8 to 10 inches of rain from December through March. “Many of my patients and their families have all worked in the fruit fields or the packing houses and bring fruits and vegetables to share with us.”
Try one or all four of Carol’s California-inspired recipes — Lemon Rosemary Pork, Crunchy High Protein Chicken Salad, Super Tuesday Shrimp, Pepper Steak and California Pork Chops. It’s Carol’s creative, kidney-friendly cookery featuring high quality protein for dialysis patients.