Roasted chicken is a dinnertime staple. DaVita renal dietitian Kathy from California offers this healthful, protein-rich Roasted Chicken recipe, passed on from her sister. Delicately flavored with lime juice, rosemary and garlic, it’s been a long-time winner in her house. “I make this for my family, and they love it. You could add some low-potassium, renal-friendly vegetables and make it a meal,” Kathy says.
Kathy’s interest in nutrition began when she was just a teenager. “My sister-in-law was a dietitian. When I was in high school, I spent the day with her, working at the hospital. I felt this was something that I wanted to do in my future – work with patients to improve their nutritional status,” she explains.
After completing high school, Kathy studied at California Polytechnic State University in San Luis Obispo, California, receiving a Bachelor of Science degree, and then went on to the University of Minnesota to complete a dietetic internship. When a renal dietitian position opened up in California, she moved back to the Golden State to be near her parents and siblings and has been there ever since.
For 11 years, Kathy’s been part of the DaVita team, and in her position, she wears many hats. “I have many job roles at DaVita: Clinical dietitian, Area dietitian, Dietitian Council member, Nutrition Support Team member and Nutrition Technical Resource. While it sometimes is challenging to get everything done, I would not have it any other way,” states Kathy. “I love my job at DaVita. I feel so lucky to work for such an amazing company that allows you to grow as a professional.”
Although the responsibilities of Kathy’s job are many, so are the rewards. Assisting patients to improve their outcomes so they can feel better is at the top of the list for her. “For me, getting to know the patients is the best part of my job.”
With every patient, Kathy stresses self-empowerment. “I feel education is the key for patients to become empowered, so they can make changes to become healthier,” Kathy explains. She encourages patients to be active participants in their own care and also supports their doing home dialysis.
“I see such wonderful benefits to patients dialyzing at home,” she notes. “The more the patient knows, the better their support team can help them receive the best possible care. A great goal for the patient is to follow a healthy renal diet and exercise.”
Kathy also provides information on renal nutritional supplements to improve nutritional status. “The patient feels so much better (when nutritional status is improved),” she explains. “This makes me feel so good.”
Partnering with her patients, and with her colleagues, is the name of the game for Kathy. “I am my patients’ health coach -- not the food police. I work together with the whole health care team for the dialysis patient’s best health,” she explains.
From Day One, Kathy gets dialysis patients involved so they can be proactive about their health care. “With all new patients, I have them watch the DaVita Kitchen DVD and give them a demonstration of DaVita.com recipes and tools including DaVita Diet Helper™,” she explains. Patients and their loved ones applaud her approach. “Just last week, one of my patients said his fiancée was so happy to look up the recipes for Spicy BBQ Sauce and Honey Mustard Dipping Sauce for him on DaVita.com,” she says. It’s obvious that Kathy’s an expert at discovering tasty recipes that support her kidney patients’ goals.
Collaboration is paramount to Kathy’s success – and her career satisfaction. “I love working with the patients, while also assisting the renal dietitians across DaVita as nutrition technical resource,” Kathy states. The feeling of camaraderie is apparent when this renal dietitian shares her experience at DaVita. “I have met so many wonderful teammates at DaVita, for example, the hard-working Dietitian Council that supports our dietitians.”
DaVita is constantly developing tools to assist dietitians and kidney patients, and Kathy relies on the support that DaVita offers. “DaVita dietitians have so many resources for our patients. I love the new 36 kidney-friendly recipes cookbook that is available on DaVita.com.”
Renal patients benefit daily from working with Kathy. “While at our in-center hemodialysis facility, we provided a cooking demonstration of the Renal-safe Macaroni and Cheese recipe from DaVita.com. It was so rewarding to have patients then use the recipe at home and thank us because it was so good,” she remembers.
Although Kathy is a renal dietitian, her work sometimes goes beyond the job description. For instance, in order to better help patients, she has been known to work with their insurance companies making certain that phosphorus binders are covered under their plans. Phosphorus binders can be critical in controlling phosphorus levels for people on dialysis because the renal diet alone may not keep phosphorus levels in a healthy range.
As part of her job at DaVita, Kathy is responsible for the nutrition bulletin board in the center’s lobby. She is gratified when patients ask about what they saw on the bulletin board or thank her for the information.
Kathy’s also been called on at times to do a bit of detective work so she could provide information for her patients when certain labs were outside goal, helping to prevent potential complications.
It’s obvious that Kathy’s work at DaVita is satisfying for her and vital to her patients’ success. “The best reward is the smiles from the patient and their family members when your hard work is appreciated,” she concludes.
You’ll be sure to get plenty of smiles when you serve Kathy’s renal-friendly Roasted Chicken recipe. It’s a hearty yet healthy entrée you can easily build a delicious meal around.
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