March is Nutrition Month in Canada and this year’s theme invites everyone to “Unlock the Potential of Food: Find a Dietitian”. Northern Health dietitians work in a variety of settings, including virtual care, to support the health of Northerners.
Kelsey Lukes is a virtual care dietitian with the Northern Health Virtual Clinic. She is based out of Prince George and supports clients living in rural and remote communities throughout the Northern Interior. She answers common questions about her role, and the benefits of dietitians going virtual.
What is a virtual care dietitian?
A virtual care dietitian is a Registered Dietitian (RD) who speaks with clients virtually, through videoconference (Zoom) or by phone.
Why would someone want to access a virtual care dietitian?
I see clients for a variety of reasons including for the management of diabetes, COPD, heart failure, kidney disease, high cholesterol, and hypertension. A virtual dietitian sees clients for many of the same reasons that a clinical or community dietitian would see clients in-person.
What are the benefits of seeing a dietitian?
Dietitians help clients, patients, and residents understand and embrace food. A dietitian works with individuals to provide support, guidance, and evidence-based information tailored to their personal needs. The benefits of seeing a dietitian can extend beyond diet and nutrition. Dietitians empower clients to have a healthier relationship with food, which can improve their quality of life.
What is unique about being a virtual care dietitian in Northern British Columbia?
Working as a virtual care dietitian in the North can be challenging, especially when I’m trying to provide support to clients who have limited access to food and other necessary resources. Overcoming these barriers to access is part of the work we do, but many Northern communities also come together to support each other. Community members donate their home-grown produce to local residents, and others travel for bulk grocery pick-ups and deliver to their neighbors.
Northern communities are also culturally diverse and resourceful. I’m often speaking with clients who don’t just shop at grocery stores, but who also have gardens or will forage and gather wild food throughout the year. Practicing as a dietitian in the North has shown me the wealth of food that is found here and how knowledgeable many people are when it comes to harvesting wild meat, fish, birds, plants, and berries. Food is so much more than just nutrition for many individuals and communities, and it’s easy to see this working in the North.
Who can access a virtual dietitian through the Northern Health Virtual Clinic?
People who live in rural and remote communities in the Northern Interior can see a dietitian through the Northern Health Virtual Clinic. Contact the clinic by phone at 1-844-645-7811 and self-refer or speak to your primary care physician about a referral to the Northern Health Virtual Clinic dietitian.