United Hospital Center
By Kelly Povroznik
My name is Kelly Povroznik, and I am the director of Food and Nutrition Services and a clinical dietitian at St. Joseph’s Hospital in Buckhannon, West Virginia (an affiliate of United Hospital Center (UHC)). Nutrition is important to me because it affects every facet of our being. If we are nutritionally deficient, then we are not physically, mentally, and emotionally healthy.
I first learned of ASPEN Malnutrition Awareness WeekTM (MAW) through their website. After attending the ASPEN 2019 Nutrition Science & Practice Conference in Phoenix, I was inspired to be an active participant and to also have UHC be an Ambassador for MAW.
At the time that I worked on my first MAW campaign, I was a clinical dietitian at UHC in Bridgeport, West Virginia. With Ambassador information in hand, I asked my supervisor, if we could join. She loved the idea and obtained approval from administration. UHC then received the honor of being the first hospital in West Virginia named as an Ambassador for Malnutrition Awareness Week.
From there, I enlisted the assistance of the hospital marketing team. Together, we created an expansive campaign for Malnutrition Awareness Week. We created brochures for department mailboxes, sent out emails to all hospital staff, posted information on our intranet, placed screen savers on nursing unit computers and posters by hand sanitizer stations, hung a large banner near the cafeteria entrance, and posted on social media.
We were also able to invite ASPEN staff member and dietitian, Ainsley Malone, to talk about malnutrition on our local news channel, WDTV. The interview expanded our reach to most of West Virginia.
UHC’s participation in Malnutrition Awareness Week 2019 helped to begin educating the hospital staff and community on the growing epidemic of malnutrition. After MAW19, we held a brainstorming session for ideas to explore in 2020. The one tip I would give to Ambassadors is work with all your teams — your administration, supervisors, coworkers, and especially your marketing department. Input and help from our team is truly what made our MAW campaign at UHC a success.
There are so many benefits to being an MAW Ambassador—and it’s really not that much work. Malnutrition Awareness Week empowered our team to be proactive, offering opportunities to meet other healthcare practitioners and share information on how to spot and care for patients with malnutrition. It also helped in educating our patients about malnutrition. We now realize that our efforts have and will enable us to assist the people of West Virginia in becoming a healthier population—in all aspects—one day at a time.
UChicago Medicine Ingalls Memorial
By Nick Groch
My name is Nick Groch, RDN, LDN, and I am director of nutrition systems for the UChicago Medicine health system and clinical nutrition manager at UChicago Medicine Ingalls Memorial in Harvey, Illinois. As a manager overseeing a team of registered dietitian nutritionists, as well as supporting our hospital’s dietetic internship program, malnutrition identification and treatment with evidenced-based practices is a major priority area for our department.
I had been involved in facilitating ASPEN’s Malnutrition Awareness WeekTM efforts at previous organizations and saw the potential this week-long effort could have in promoting malnutrition awareness at my new hospital. As malnutrition continues to be a national epidemic, events like Malnutrition Awareness Week continue to provide a platform for nutrition professionals to fight for these often-neglected patients. Nutrition care has come a long way over the decades, but we still have a long way to go to ensure our medical providers are as in tune to what malnutrition looks like as we RDNs are. Malnutrition Awareness Week is a fantastic opportunity to not only highlight the impact malnutrition has on patients and patient outcomes, but to also provide these important educational resources to medical providers.
The toolkit provided by ASPEN makes planning for this week of awareness exceptionally easy. From ready to use infographics to provider handouts, there isn’t one piece of material we needed to hand-make!
We partnered with our marketing, medical staff, and patient care services teams to tailor our approach to ensure what we had in mind provided the biggest bang for our buck. This included infographics posted in our physician lounge and café, daily informational tables on malnutrition topics lead by our RDNs, an email blast, and malnutrition educational materials for our providers.
Although malnutrition care is a constant work in progress within our organization, efforts like ASPEN’s Malnutrition Awareness Week provide a platform to offer hyper-focused content to ensure all medical professionals understand the national problem malnutrition has become.
As a nutrition professional, I think everyone in our field should hold Malnutrition Awareness Week activities at their facilities. We have an obligation to provide the best nutrition care we can to our patients—and increasing awareness to this growing problem should be a priority for all nutrition professionals.