Heart Failure Awareness Week Staff Spotlight: Nicole Strong
by Marcello Bernardo
It’s Heart Failure Awareness Week, and we’re highlighting staff at Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre who play a vital role in caring for patients who are living with heart failure. Today, we’re sharing some Q&A with Nicole Strong, a Registered Dietitian in the Congestive Heart Failure Telehomecare Program and the Cardiac Rehabilitation Program.
Please describe your role for us.
Whether I meet with client’s virtually, or in person, I always ensure to check-in on their overall health and well-being. I do my best to touch on each individual’s level of stress and coping techniques, as well as inquiring about hobbies and interests. I encourage a positive relationship between clients and their food, and work with them to approach any lifestyle and/or dietary changes in a reasonable manner that fits into their unique lifestyle. As a professional I also ensure that I take care of myself by staying hydrated, eating healthy, taking my breaks, and staying active.
What does it take to be a Registered Dietitian in the Congestive Heart Failure Telehomecare Program and Cardiac Rehab?
Everyone’s lifestyle and how their heart failure symptoms present may be different. It takes creativity to learn about a client’s lifestyle and how nutrition can support them to improve their overall health.
What is unique about your role?
Quality nutrition is vital to our cardiovascular health. One unique aspect of being the Dietitian on our team is the opportunity to learn about our client needs and developing programs and resources to meet those needs. I enjoy the challenge of seeking out and creating handouts, developing new cooking classes and hands-on learning experiences, meeting with individuals in-person and over the phone, as well as offering virtual presentations.
What inspired you to work with heart failure patients?
It is an area that affects a large part of our population and there are often many health conditions involved for these individuals. I enjoy the challenge of helping others learn about nutrition and healthy eating specific to their conditions. I enjoy helping clients build the confidence to apply what they learn to improve their overall health.
How does your role impact patient care?
As a Dietitian, I can help support people to meet their nutrition needs, identify areas of focus to help improve their symptoms and help them learn how healthy eating can fit into their lifestyle. Often this will include increasing confidence and reducing stress that can come with learning how to manage many health conditions at once.
On the concept of practice what you preach, do you have any personal tips on how to stay heart healthy?
Staying hydrated, eating a well-balanced diet, taking time for yourself and family/friends, as well as staying active are all important factors in reducing your risk for cardiovascular disease. Every small healthy lifestyle change can make a big difference.
Any final thoughts?
It doesn’t hurt to add a little extra vegetable to a dish – we often don’t get enough.