An Interview with Meghan Foley, RD, CEDRD-S, Clinical Nutrition Manager

ACUTE has some impressive professionals on our treatment team. In our interview series, we aim to highlight the talented individuals who work at ACUTE and the ways they impact the lives of our patients.

We spoke with Meghan Foley, RD, CEDRD-S this month. Here at ACUTE, Meghan is our Clinical Nutrition Manager. When she’s not on the unit, Meghan loves exploring and staying active, and also has a soft spot for farm animals. We talked with Meghan about what her role at ACUTE is like and more below.

How did you end up working with patients with eating disorders?

Admittedly, it sort of fell into my lap. I was already working PRN at Denver Health to help cover general medicine floors and the eating disorder unit (ACUTE) was expanding from 4 beds to 10 and they needed a full time RD. They offered me the job, despite my complete ineptitude for the specialty at the time, and I was lucky enough to grow and learn under a great group of clinicians. Nine years later, I can’t see myself doing anything else!

What is the value in nutritional rehabilitation for patients with eating disorders?

The value is endless. When a patient is malnourished and severely underweight, their body essentially goes into hibernation mode and everything slows way down – nutrition rehabilitation helps everything function the way it's supposed to. Heart rates start to go back to normal, GI tracts start to function the way they're meant to: constipation can improve or resolve, gastroparesis improves and SMA syndrome can resolve. Brains are able to retain more information and concentrate on tasks, liver enzymes start to normalize and strength and endurance improve, among so many other things.

What does your average workday entail?

Every day starts with a chart review on all my patients. I review their completion of meals, amount of supplement used, behaviors observed and tolerance of enteral nutrition (if applicable). After performing chart reviews, I write progress notes on my patients documenting their daily weight changes, % IBW and BMI, calorie level and completion of meal plan. From there, I spend at least 30 minutes with each patient planning menus of the following day, discussing and counseling on challenges that arise and helping them navigate challenges coming up in the future or meal plan increases. I also adjust tube feed orders, participate in patient and family meetings, attend a unit wide meeting to go over complexities that are arising with patients and check in with the entire RD team to discuss challenging cases and receive and provide advice on how to navigate them.

What drew you to ACUTE?

​​​​​​​I had always had interest in working with the eating disorder population but as a still relatively new dietitian I had not yet had the opportunity. When the position opened at ACUTE I jumped at it, as I was fascinated by the combination of behavioral health and clinical nutrition that it provided. After starting, I realized that it was the perfect merriment of all of my interests in nutrition – it provided the opportunity to work on a close team of various medical professionals, it allowed me to develop rapport and relationships with my patients, as I get to see them every day for extended periods of time, I am able to use my nutrition counseling skills and I am able to use my clinical skills. I get to use medical nutrition therapy for various disease states, monitor different risk factors from malnutrition and do nutrition support for both parenteral and enteral nutrition. Additionally, it has provided and still provides the opportunity for so much learning and education to help me to continue to grow as a clinician.

What do you find most rewarding about your work at ACUTE?

​​​​​​​It is hard to pick one most rewarding thing – I find it so rewarding when a patient is able to meet any of their goals,  whether it is weaning off of a tube feed, increasing the amount of food they are able to eat and reduce their use of supplement or try and conquer a fear food. But I also love when a patient discharges and then follows up months or years later to check in and let me know how they are doing in recovery and able to reflect back and recognize that all of their hard work was worth it in the long run.

What do you wish more people knew about nutrition?

​​​​​​​Although it is somewhat cliché, I think it is really valuable: food is medicine. You don’t always have to like it, you might not feel the positive effects right away, and you might feel worse before you feel better, but at the end of the day any form of nutrition you take in, as long as you are taking in enough, is going to help you get stronger both physically and mentally. The more you do it – complete your meals, try challenge foods, practice eating – the easier it will get in the long run and the nutrition your body needs is what allows people to do the things they love, like go to school, travel, walk, spend time with loved ones, concentrate to read a book or draw a picture, pick up their kids, hold their nieces and nephews, walk their dogs, etc.

What is an interesting fact or something unexpected people wouldn't know about you?

​​​​​​​I am oddly obsessed with farm animals.  My long term goal is to have enough land to have some sheep, a couple of cows, a few pigs, chickens some llamas (I heard you have to have them to keep mountain lions away from sheep), a couple of dogs and some cats. I want to be able to just sit on a porch swing, drink some coffee and hangout with my livestock with the mountains in the background.

What do you like to do in your spare time?

​​​​​​​Explore whatever or wherever I can. On the weekend I love to go hiking or snowboarding, check out different towns and mountains and Colorado or try a new brewery.  I am always planning my text trip so when I have more than a weekend you can find me on a plane to a new city or country.  I also love to fly back east to spend time with my nephews and niece as much as possible!

What is your favorite travel spot?

​​​​​​​​​​​​​​My favorite country I have traveled to is New Zealand – the people were friendly and my favorite animal (sheep) are everywhere! The terrain varies from ocean to mountains to glaciers to caves so there is such a wide variety of things to do and explore. I can’t wait to go back some day.  However, a more attainable place that I can’t seem to stop going back to is Lake Tahoe.

What is your favorite inspirational quote?

​​​​​​​“Well behaved women seldom make history.”  - Eleanor Roosevelt

ACUTE Earns Prestigious Center of Excellence Designation from Anthem
In 2018, the ACUTE Center for Eating Disorders & Severe Malnutrition at Denver Health was honored by Anthem Health as a Center of Excellence for Medical Treatment of Severe and Extreme Eating Disorders. ACUTE is the first medical unit ever to achieve this designation in the field of eating disorders. It comes after a rigorous review process.

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