Frequently Asked Questions - Ralph H. Johnson VA Health Care System
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Ralph H. Johnson VA Health Care System

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Frequently Asked Questions

Outpatient Services

Sara Forbes, RD, Certified Diabetes Educator.How do I get an appointment with a dietitian? 

If you are a veteran and are enrolled in the VA Healthcare system, you can request a consult to see a dietitian through your primary care provider/team. You can also self refer. You will see the dietitian that is affiliated with your local clinic and primary care provider (or CBOC).

What kinds of counseling can the dietitian give me? 

Registered Dietitians are trained to educate and counsel on a variety of disease states and conditions, and have access to a number of resources that can help a patient reach their nutrition goals, whatever they might be.

How long does it take to get an appointment with a dietitian? 

Typically 30 days or less. Dietitians are also available for walk-ins, but scheduled patients are given priority. You might be asked to wait for a period of time, but we are happy to see you after the scheduled appointment.

What is the difference between a dietitian and a nutritionist? 

The main difference between a dietitian and a nutritionist is the training, regulation, and scope of practice. Anyone can call themselves a 'nutritionist.' A registered dietitian has earned their RD through a bachelor's degree, accredited internship, and has passed the national board certification exam. Registered Dietitians are also licensed in the state they practice. When receiving nutrition advice, always ensure you are speaking to a registered dietitian for the most up to date and accurate information.

I have been told I have diabetes and to avoid sugar, but everything has sugar in it. What can I eat? 

It is true that many foods contain sugar, whether it's natural sugar or added sugar. However, portion size is the most important factor when considering what foods to eat. If you are a veteran and have been diagnosed with diabetes, it is very important that you receive correct information on caring for yourself. Individual and/or group diabetes classes are available at all clinics. Ask your primary care provider for a referral to the diabetes team, or make an appointment now with your local dietitian.

Inpatient ServicesSusie Hendricks, RD with Sonya Wright, RN and Petrice Brown, RN. 

How do I order a diet?

Diets need to be ordered from CPRS. Go to the Orders tab, click on Diet Orders and follow the prompts.  You will be asked to enter the appropriate diets (up to 5 selections can be entered for each patient resulting in a customized tray). Remember that protein supplements (like Prosource) must be ordered at the same time as the tube feeding formula, but in its own order box.

How do I order a Tube Feeding? 

Tube Feeding orders should also be submitted via CPRS. Go to the Orders tab, select Diet Orders, choose Tube Feeding. You will be prompted to select the appropriate product, strength, and quantity.

What are the cut-off times to get a tray ordered in time for the next inpatient meal?

Breakfast- 5:30am; Lunch-11:29am; Dinner- 4:49pm. If you are ordering a diet after these times you must order a late tray.

What does a Registered Dietitian do? 

A registered dietitian is regarded as an expert in the area of food and nutrition. A dietitian's role may differ slightly depending on the job setting, but general a dietitian promotes good health through the preparation and service of food, modified diets, research, and counseling.

Susie Hendricks, RD with Sonya Wright, RN and Petrice Brown, RN.A patient is being discharged home on tube feedings. How do they get their supplies? 

Tube feeding orders are written by the physician as a prescription on the discharge medication list. Pharmacy provides the patient with a short supply of formula prior to discharge and the rest of the formula supply will be mailed to the patient after discharge.

Do dietitians only work in hospitals?

Dietitians work in a variety of settings, including but no limited to hospitals, food service operations, community settings, nursing homes, research facilities, and private businesses.

How do calorie counts work? 

Calorie Counts are ordered by the physician or dietitian. If you order a calorie count after 11:30am, it will start the following day and will continue for 3 days.  Food service employees are responsible for recording meals eaten and bedisde nurses record snacks and foods eatedn from outside the hospital. RD records results in CPRS progress notes at the end of the 3 days.

Nutrition Services Links