Traditionally, latkes are made from potatoes. They’re associated with the Jewish Hanukkah festival, since the oil used to cook latkes is reminiscent of the miraculous oil from the Hanukkah story. Latkes are also commonly eaten in many Eastern European countries. Thanks to DaVita renal dietitian Marjorie from Arizona, those with kidney problems can enjoy crispy, tasty latkes without having to worry about the potassium content.
Marjorie is a native New Yorker who now lives and works in sunny Arizona. Marjorie received her bachelor’s degree in mass communications from Queens College (NY) and her master’s degree from Columbia University. 'I was working in New York City as the assistant editor of Weight Watchers magazine and became very interested in nutrition," she explains. 'I started reading lay books on nutrition by Gaylord Hauser and others and decided it was time to go back for a Master’s degree, so nutrition seemed a natural (no pun intended) choice."
Although today Marjorie thoroughly enjoys her work on the DaVita team, she first resisted going into the renal field. 'Truthfully, though I have been a registered dietitian for 31 years, I avoided working in renal, because my father had ESRD almost 40 years ago when the treatment options were not that many," Marjorie recalls. 'I always thought that working in renal would bring back bad memories; instead, my work here at DaVita has brought me nothing but optimism about how far we have come."
Since joining DaVita in March, 2010, Marjorie has found that the most rewarding aspect of her job is witnessing the bravery of her patients as they deal with their illnesses. 'I am always touched and encouraged by the courage of our patients," says Marjorie.
This DaVita dietitian works to make a difference in patients’ lives by helping them to achieve better control of their labs through diet so they are able to lead healthier lives. She explains that she likes to keep the focus on the positive: 'I try to empower the patients and emphasize to them what they CAN eat and drink."
Marjorie asks her patients to do what they can for themselves. 'Don’t feel that you have lost control just because you have a physical challenge," is her message. 'Believe that how and what you choose to eat can really make a difference. Be gentle with yourself."
Always looking for new ways to effectively support her patients, renal dietitian Marjorie has created tools to help them choose kidney-friendly foods when grocery-shopping. 'I’m developing extensive lists of foods and beverages that are low (the green list) in potassium and phosphorus, and foods and beverages that are high (the red list)," she explains. 'It is not always helpful or useful for the patient to get this information from a food label, because the listing of phosphorus and potassium is not a requirement, and if these nutrients are listed, they are given in a percentage that is based on the needs of ‘healthy’ people, NOT people on dialysis."
When asked what she enjoys most about working at DaVita, Marjorie is enthusiastic about the positive environment. 'It really is true that even though we are dealing with patients who may be very ill, we do try to have fun and convey our serious message in an upbeat manner," says Marjorie. 'I believe that we can add to the patients’ enjoyment of life, at least for the hours they are with us at the unit."
And although every day contains positive moments, some days are especially joyful. 'I am excited that our oldest patient will be turning 95 soon and can’t wait to see how we will celebrate his life with him the DaVita way," Marjorie explains.
Since coming to DaVita, Marjorie has been impressed by the company’s on-going efforts to educate its team. 'What is very interesting to me is the continuous emphasis on education and learning for dietitians and other teammates," Marjorie states. 'This can only help us be the best we can be for our patients."
Marjorie splits her time between DaVita’s Westbrook Dialysis Center in Sun City West, Arizona, and Grand Home Dialysis in Surprise, Arizona. 'I think that what makes Westbrook and Grand Home both special are our patients –they are great! Also what makes my work experience special is the wonderful rapport among the teammates," declares Marjorie. 'Plus, I like that it only takes me 20 minutes to get to work in the morning," she adds with a grin.
'I really feel like we are part of a team!" Marjorie sums up. 'As our FA, Shirley, says, 'We are not ‘just’ a center… At Westbrook, we are building a true community.'"
Next time you’re wondering what to do with fresh vegetables, consider turning them into delightful, delicious latkes. Thanks to these recipes from dedicated DaVita dietitian Marjorie and a few simple ingredients, even those with kidney problems can savor fried vegetable latkes!