Chicken Parmesan Meatballs by Andi from Ohio

Empathy goes a long way to help someone excel at her job. DaVita dietitian Andi from Ohio was led into her field because, “As a child, I struggled with my own weight and from that stemmed a strong passion for nutrition and exercise as I grew older,” she shares.

An Ohio native, Andi earned her degree from The Ohio State University. Once she got into her profession, Andi pursued the renal field. “I enjoyed the ongoing follow up that comes with working in an outpatient setting. I was able to see how the education and counseling that I provided impacted the patient’s outcomes. I also enjoy the challenges a renal patient presents, often with multiple comorbidities,” states Andi.

Andi enjoys her job and the rewards of being a renal dietitian. “Getting to know my patients and seeing how they grow and learn more about the renal diet with time are the most rewarding aspects of my job,” says Andi, adding, “I enjoy being a resource for my dialysis patients that makes them feel more comfortable living with end stage renal disease.”

The number one tip Andi gives her patients is to, “Use moderation with all dietary choices.” She uses a realistic approach with her patients and creative ideas to incorporate patients’ food preferences into their renal diets. Andi also uses this creativity in her DaVita center to inspire patients. “Last year we had a ‘Phosphorus Wall of Fame.’ If patients maintained a phosphorus level within goal for three consecutive months they had their pictures placed on a DaVita star on the Wall. Also on the star, I put a quote from each patient on what they did to help control phosphorus. All the patients enjoyed reading the tips that helped fellow patients control their phosphorus levels,” shares Andi.

The decision to work at a DaVita dialysis center was a good fit for Andi. She says, “The high bar that DaVita sets in regards to clinical outcome goals for patients is impressive. DaVita really does strive to be the best provider of dialysis.” In addition to the exceptional care is the caring attitude. Andi shares that many patients come to dialysis very fearful with many misconceptions. Andi recalls a patient who was in tears from the moment she stepped into the center for the first time. “For most new patients on their first treatment, I usually go over and introduce myself. As I did she had tears in her eyes and was shaking her head in disbelief. I asked if she was okay and she said, ‘I just don't understand; everyone walks into this center like they are coming to the hair salon to get their hair done. Everyone is so at ease and smiling.’ I had to laugh because it goes to show you what a friendly, welcoming staff we have here. Now, a little over a year later, that same patient walks into our center with the same ease that she found so strange on her first day. I guess it’s just another day at the salon for her. And, may I add, she is one of my star patients with excellent labs every month!”

Every day Andi tries to make a difference in her patients’ lives. “My main goal is to help the patients understand the renal diet and incorporate it into her lives. Instead of taking away foods from patients, we work together to figure out a way to incorporate most things within moderation. I don’t want to be known as the ‘food police,’” Andi says. Which explains her recipe submission for Chicken Parmesan Meatballs. The pizza sauce may be on the high potassium list and cheese on the high phosphorus list, but in limited amounts these foods can still be enjoyed.

Meatballs are fun as appetizers and as part of a meal. With a side of pasta for dinner or tucked into bread to made a sandwich, Andi’s Chicken Parmesan Meatballs will be a real treat at your table.

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