Virtual Dietitians Create Health Equity in Underserved Communities

Published on : 1/11/23
  • Healthcare sites have come through tough times in recent years, battling the COVID pandemic and supporting understaffed and overworked employees. Hiring staff – in any healthcare community – remains challenging. 

    Sodexo’s Nutrition and Wellness Center is helping solve one issue: the shortage in registered dietitians. In 2020, we were already creating a HIPAA-compliant telehealth program to assist sites with outpatient dietitian services.  

    I guess we were a little ahead of our time, National Nutrition Director Susan Ramsey says. But then COVID hit, and everything had to be virtual. Our telehealth nutrition service has really exploded.

    Sodexo’s registered dietitians provide services at hospitals and clinics, assessing patients via phone or Zoom and consulting with physicians, nurses and staff on nutrition prescriptions. Dietitians can advise on general nutrition, critical care nutrition, tube feedings and therapeutic diets for diabetes, oncology, kidney issues, liver transplants, eating disorders, cardiac disease, obesity and more.  

    Bunny Foxhoven, Manager of Sodexo Nutrition and Wellness Center, says:

    They are interacting as if they are actually the dietitian on the floor, but working remotely.

    These dietitians serve more than 20 sites nationwide, some of which are located in underserved or rural communities that may not have full-time staff. Some are filling in; others continue long-term.  

    Through “hospital at home” programs, we also work with patients needing home care. The service works for providers, patients and dietitians. Providers can offer patients high-quality, expert care they might not otherwise be able to access. Dietitians love the flexibility of working from home. And patients can attend appointments from a hospital bed, their work or home, or even on the go. “Patients love the virtual appointments,” Ramsey says. 

    Learn more about how we’re improving the quality of life for our employees and clients in our A Better Tomorrow 2022 Sustainability & Corporate Social Responsibility Report.