One of summer’s food temptations is ice cream. But many dialysis patients stay away because of the high phosphorus. Here’s a recipe for a renal-friendly, low-phosphorus ice cream treat—Home-style Vanilla Ice Cream. DaVita dietitian Kelly from Louisiana says, “I prepared this recipe for my patients—who gave it good reviews. Many of them like to make homemade ice cream on the Fourth of July holiday, so I created it for them to enjoy.”
Kelly says she became a dietitian because, “I always knew I wanted to work in the medical field. I grew up in Metairie, Louisiana, which is a suburb of New Orleans. And being overweight as a child, I became drawn to nutrition. Later, I also realized I wanted a job that offered the flexibility to raise a family.”
After earning an undergraduate degree in nutrition from Louisiana State University, plus a Master of Public Health degree from Tulane, Kelly worked in hospital inpatient and outpatient settings for 8 years. One day, a fellow dietitian mentioned she was leaving her part-time position at an independently owned dialysis unit, and asked Kelly if she might be interested in the job.
“I always thought that being a renal dietitian was outside of my career goals,” Kelly says. The patients I met during renal rotation during my school internship had many nutrition challenges, and the diet was more complicated than diets for many other chronic disease situations. I was not sure I had the ability to help kidney patients learn to balance so many things. But the job offered everything I was looking for at the time—higher pay, flexibility and a new challenge. I soon learned that my new job wasn’t what I feared, it was about bringing hope and comfort to patients’ lives through improved nutrition.”
“Bringing hope to patients is the greatest way of making a difference in their lives, whether it is teaching them that a renal diet can be interesting and manageable, or helping someone overcome nausea or improve diabetes control. I try to give hope that they can reach their nutrition goals and live healthier lives.”
Kelly admits that the most challenging part of her job is, “finding creative ways to motivate patients to make lifestyle changes while allowing them to have fun learning. I try to bring new recipes to my patients, which we all taste test and enjoy together, on a quarterly basis. I try to empower patients to take an active role in their health through education.”
Education can also be fun according to Kelly. “In January we had our first annual “Phoscar” Award Ceremony, based on the Oscars. We wanted to acknowledge all our patients for their efforts to control their phosphorus levels. So we sent out invitations and nominations for the “Phoscar” award in early December—with encouragement to keep phosphorus under control during the holidays.”
Kelly explains, “Prior to the award ceremony, we had a meet-and-greet party. We had renal-friendly hors d’oeuvres and sparkling grape juice served in plastic champagne glasses. Then a red carpet (made of red felt remnants from Walmart®) was rolled out. Using a microphone, we announced all of the nominees and said something special about each one of our patients. Anyone meeting the phosphorus goal of 5.5 or less received a “Phoscar” trophy to display on their machine for the day. We had a lot of fun and hope to do it again every year.”
I love that at DaVita, dietitians are regarded as valued team members and that we are given impressive resources to grow and evolve. I service three centers in Louisiana and the small, friendly, family atmosphere is what makes them special.
Kelly also mentions that in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, she was one the DaVita teammates in charge of distributing clothes and canned good donations from other DaVita teammates.
Kelly shares, “I want everyone to know that their donations were put to good use. We had many DaVita teammates and patients who lost everything. The generosity of donators has meant the world to many. There are still people in need. Last week we discovered one of our PD (peritoneal dialysis) patients was forced out of the home he was renting while still waiting for a FEMA trailer. We provided him with temporary supplies leftover from the donations. It makes me wonder how many more people in Louisiana and Mississippi are in the same situation. This is a work in progress, but together we can make a difference.”
This summer, if you get a sweet tooth for a frosty treat, try a batch of Home-style Vanilla Ice Cream.