Monday, September 5, 2011

Dietitians- Improving the Quality of Life

This is a response to a news story aired on September 1st by Channel 10, WPLG Miami

WPLG.  “Most people have to head to a spa or a fitness center to get the personal services of a dietitian…, but not those who work for Miami-Dade Fire Rescue. Local 10 has learned command staff, secretaries and firefighters enjoy this perk at a cost of almost $100,000 in tax money” ($50,000 for dietetic services).

When did providing health care become a luxury? Firefighters put their lives on the line everyday to protect us. Due to the nature of their job, heart attacks are the number one cause of deaths among firefighters. To reduce the effects of this, firefighters are encouraged to have regular medical screenings, exercise regularly, and maintain a healthy diet.
 

Heart attacks are the number one cause of deaths among firefighters

WPLG ... a dietitian is a “pricey perk for the Miami-Dade Fire Rescue. Most people have to head to a spa or a fitness center to get the personal services of a dietitian."

WPLG is obviously not aware most people will find a registered dietitian (RD) working in hospitals, long-term care facilities, the military, public schools, universities, disaster relief programs, the World Health Organization, and  government agencies, such as the President's Council on Fitness, Sports, and Nutrition, WIC, USDA Food and Nutrition Services, the National Institute of Health, and Public Health Services.
As a registered dietitian (RD), I’ve never thought of my profession as a “Perk.” A RD is trained to assist individuals improve the quality of life and in saving lives, as illustrated by the examples below.

1. When an eight-year old child learns they have diabetes, a RD provides help in planning meals specific for that child.
2. When a premature infant is fighting for life, a RD calculates the nutritional needs and formula.
3. When a patient with cancer has lost their appetite or an elderly person can no longer chew or swallow, a RD will assist in maintaining weight and nutritional health by planning meals tolerated or recommending alternate methods of feeding.
4. When an active person suffers a heart attack or loses kidney function, a RD will develop a meal plan to help in recovery.
5. When a mother cannot feed her children, a RD will help find assistance in obtaining food.
6. When a firefighter, police officer or other occupation requires one to be in top physical health, a RD will educate, counsel, plan meals, develop recipes, encourage, and problem solve.
7. When a food or nutrition story is released with false or misleading information, a RD will provide accurate information based on research and science. 



Taxpayers

WPLG.  Local 10 has learned command staff, secretaries and firefighters enjoy this perk at a cost of almost $100,000 in tax money” ($50,000 for dietetic services).

The cost to the taxpayer comes out to about $1.80 per month per person for dietetic services, without considering any benefits the consumer receives, such as saving people or property from fires or other emergencies and volunteering to raise money for children’s cancer care and muscular dystrophy.

The Miami Dade Fire and Rescue employees paid $75 each of their own monies to participate in the "Get Fit" challenge. All entry fees benefited the Children's Cancer Caring Center, a free cancer treatment facility. The challenge raised close to $20,000 for the Center. On September 4th  firefighters around the country were out in the community on their own personal time raising money for the MDA Telethon.
What if the dietitian loses her job based on this frivolous story. The firefighters will be without the services of a RD and the taxpayers will be paying for a person’s unemployment and other necessities. Who benefitted? Not the taxpayers, not the firefighters and not the dietitian.

How much does one have to contribute to their communities, in order for us to say thank you?
The reporter, Jeff Weinsier of WPLG failed to provide the “whole story”, leaving some taxpayers angry about the costs.  Weinsier asked to see personal records covered by HIPAA, which protects the privacy of individually identifiable health information. Weinsier should know this is a violation of the law, yet presented in his story “they denied us access.”

Health care should not be considered a "Perk" or luxury.

To learn more about the role of a registered dietitian, visit the American Dietetic Association.


Post a Comment

Dietitian Blog List