Increasing malnutrition awareness at a teaching hospital with 70 departments serving more than 236,000 members during the restrictions of a pandemic was no easy task. It required a compelling game plan, a talented team, and a physician champion who together managed to reach out to the 270 physicians working at Kaiser Permanente West Los Angeles Medical Center.
These efforts, led by Mary Policastro Dinsdale, Assistant Director, Clinical and Patient Services Food and Nutrition Services, delivered not only a successful Malnutrition Awareness WeekTM (MAW), but also exemplified Kaiser Permanente West Los Angeles’ commitment to their members and multidisciplinary malnutrition education within the organization.
Ms. Policastro Dinsdale first secured the critical backing of the Medical Center’s Senior Vice President Georgina Garcia, RN, by focusing on how the metrics of recognizing and treating malnutrition aligned with Kaiser Permanente’s goals of improving patient outcomes.
Next, with the help of the clinical RD Team and the West Los Angeles Public Affairs group, led by Jamila Veasley, information about MAW was spread throughout the Medical Center, including posters in the cafeterias and parking area elevators, “Ask About Your Nutrition” graphics on TV screens in outpatient areas, and nuggets on social media platforms including Instagram and Twitter.
They took the added step of sending letters that underscored the free Continuing Education Units (CEU) that came with attending MAW events to all nurses, pharmacists, dietitians, and physicians affiliated with the Medical Center and outpatient clinics.
The team had a strong physician champion for MAW in Kaiser Permanente hospitalist Allen Alaverdian, MD, MBA, who is also the regional malnutrition physician leader in Southern California. He reached out to the center’s Medical Director, Dr. Kirk Tamaddon, who agreed that this is a worthy presentation for his team. Ms. Policastro Dinsdale and Dr. Alaverdian, along with Samantha Zucker, RDN, CSP, created and presented Grand Rounds — “Malnutrition: Is It On Your Radar?”— that reached more than 200 physicians. The timing could not have been more significant as it was less than a month before the second surge in the pandemic hit their organization. “Malnutrition affects nearly every hospital department and every specialty, and so that outreach is essential,” said Ms. Policastro Dinsdale. Additionally, the team arranged for all physicians who attended to receive a one-hour CEU.
“Leading the efforts in the Medical Center’s participation in MAW gave us the opportunity to connect with senior administration and other important team members across Kaiser Permanente. It opened doors that might not have been otherwise,” she added. “Everyone wants to be a part of a worthy project. And it’s the partnership with ASPEN and the support of that high-level leadership, along with our physician champion, that were keys to the success of MAW for us.”
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