“We want you to eat healthy so you can stay healthy enough to work, enjoy your grandchildren, walk on the beach and do whatever gives you joy.” These cheerful words belong to DaVita dietitian, Maria, who inspires patients by reminding them of all the benefits healthier eating can bring. Maria passionately believes in public awareness of the complications of poorly-controlled diabetes and high blood pressure. “I think that if we did a better job of educating people earlier, we might improve their ability and willingness to prevent complications.” Maria puts her belief into action by cutting out weekly grocery advertisements from the newspaper, and posting them in the patient lobby with “better choice” foods circled and foods that should be avoided marked out.
Maria says the most surprising thing she’s learned since starting work with DaVita eight years ago is that, “When dialysis was new (about 30 years ago) people were chosen for dialysis, usually by an ethics committee, because there weren’t enough machines or facilities for everyone who needed treatment.”
Maria grew up in Jacksonville, NC, and upon entering East Carolina University expected to become a registered nurse. As part of the nursing curriculum, Maria took a basic nutrition course and “was hooked.” Fast forward to her career as Clinical Nutrition Manager with a large medical center when suddenly, her middle management position was eliminated. She switched to consulting for DaVita and eventually, the position became permanent. “After seeing what a great company DaVita was, I jumped at the chance to sign on full time.”
Maria describes the center where she now works as “very large with over 40 teammates who provide excellent care for 180 hemodialysis patients and 60 peritoneal dialysis patients. That in itself makes us special.”
Recently, a new patient started dialysis and admitted to Maria that he didn’t realize just how bad he felt until treatment actually started and he began to feel better. Maria reports that he told her,” This treatment should be called ‘life-alysis’ not ‘die-alysis’!”
Try one or all of Maria’s recipes for fabulous holiday fare. Each one is delicious by itself, or you can create an entire festive dinner from appetizer to dessert. Here’s to happy holiday eating!