Ginger-Apple Sparkler by Karen from Illinois

Sometimes life’s obstacles inspire great change. That’s certainly true for DaVita dietitian, Karen. Growing up as an overweight child in a small Illinois farming community, Karen didn’t just accept her situation. She decided to learn about healthy eating by studying nutrition at Northern Illinois University.

Today, after more than 19 years as a dietitian, Karen still loves her job.

Each day brings a new opportunity to help people. “I love being able to serve others by caring and listening,” Karen explains. “I try to make a difference by being a real person to them and allowing them to be real people, not just dialysis patients.”

She also enjoys organizing fun activities to inspire them. “We have ‘Patient Appreciation Day’ where we have music, food and fun.” Karen adds, “I once wrote to the Chicago Bulls and obtained 25 free Bulls tickets for the patients.”

Karen’s fun approach is a big hit with patients. They also appreciate her compassion and kind words of encouragement. “I tell them not to give up—to put one foot in front of the next and walk through difficult situations. And I’m always there to talk about their concerns.”

But Karen’s DaVita center isn’t all about health care issues. As Karen shares, there are times when love takes center stage.

“One of our nursing home patients fell in love with a woman who also resided in his nursing home. He was estranged from his family, so everyone at our center became his family. His wedding was held at our unit, with the husband of another patient officiating. Our administrator’s daughter was the flower girl, the social worker donated the decorations, one of the nurses donated the cake and various other people brought food. It was a very happy, joyful occasion.”

Here’s a zippy beverage to toast your happy occasions. Try Karen’s Ginger-Apple Sparkler.

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