Catherine has been a Sodexo clinical dietitian at the Lehigh Valley Health Network for six years where she is a pediatric specialist. She earned her BS in Nutrition and completed her internship with Marywood University and completed her master’s degree at Central Michigan University. Her master’s thesis ignited her passion for malnutrition, and she became an advocate for malnutrition awareness and a malnutrition subject matter expert for Sodexo. She’s had the honor of sharing her research and knowledge with local, national and international platforms and is a recipient of the 2018 Sodexo Cornerstone of Care Award for Clinical Excellence.
In her Own Words…
Nutrition was something that my mom and I were always interested in made obvious with my fifth grade science fair project where I measured compared “digestion times” for popular multivitamins stirring them in body- temperature vinegar to simulate the stomach. My studies empowered me as a dietitian in the making and I found my true passion for the field when I understood the depth of the impact nutrition has on every living being no matter the age, race, gender, religion or financial status. Food is one of the few things in life that connects us on a vulnerable level and it’s my privilege to be able to be part of my patients’ journeys and relationship with food, especially with those who struggle the same way I did.
What does receiving this Foundation award mean to you?
It is an absolute honor and privilege to be selected as a recipient of the Abbott Nutrition Malnutrition Award. One of the highlights of my master’s thesis research was getting to work with my study participants face- to- face. This allowed for me to see the faces and learn the names of the malnourished patients we primarily know as statistics. Twenty nine percent of my screened population and thirteen of my study participants passed away by the conclusion of the study, 85% of whom were severely malnourished. One man in particular who was severely malnourished had me in his room for two hours discussing nutrition, his life and his mortality. Not more than a few hours after I left him, he became lethargic and ended up on hospice that night, passing just days later. He said he was proud to be part of the study and wanted it to help others from avoiding his fate. I will never forget him knowing I was one of the last people to spend time with him before he passed. He is a depiction of my research goals: to save lives and to share my research and passion for malnutrition globally.
I also accept this award on behalf of my clinical team at the Lehigh Valley Health Network and Sodexo. I am blessed to work with incredible dietitians who consistently go above and beyond for their patients and are continually amazing me with their creativity and resourcefulness especially in the realm of malnutrition. Every initiative was possible because of their hard work and willingness to grow. This is a win for all of us!
In 1998, ASPEN’s President Ken Kudsk said, “There is no doubt that if malnutrition is allowed to proceed unchecked, patients will eventually die…Can we say – in the end, in my judgement, I did what was best for the patient?” The recognition from the Academy Foundation and Abbott Nutrition is more than I could have ever desired for my patients and my team and I’m so thankful to share this award with them.