Kentucky VA kidney care program highlighted in DC

Becky Schlueter of the Lexington VA talks about her center's innovative chronic kidney care...
Becky Schlueter of the Lexington VA talks about her center's innovative chronic kidney care program that's helping veterans. (Source: GrayDC)(GRAYDC)
Published: Oct. 24, 2019 at 4:41 PM EDT
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The Lexington VA Medical Center is taking center stage for their innovative health program at a summit in the nation’s capital. Our Washington Correspondent Alana Austin reports on how this program may revolutionize kidney care for hundreds of thousands of veterans around the country.

Veterans Affairs says it cares for more than 600,000 veterans with chronic kidney disease. It’s an insidious condition that if untreated, may mean a patient has to go on dialysis.

Now the Lexington VA is finding the secret recipe to fighting this illness is found in the kitchen.

“Chronic kidney disease is the fourth-most frequent diagnosis among VA users," said Becky Schlueter, assistant chief of nutrition and food services at the Lexington VA.

The Lexington VA is on the front lines of battling chronic kidney disease. Nutritionist Becky Schlueter says through medical nutrition therapy, hundreds of veterans are seeing significant health gains from adjusting their diet and daily habits.

The Lexington VA program hosts these cooking classes and dietitians meet with veterans to help them every step of the way with making changes to their diet.

“Our hope is that this program will be in every VA across the country," said Schlueter.

Lexington is competing against other top-performing, innovative programs around the nation at a Veterans Health Administration conference this week.

Doctor Ryan Vega, VA Diffusion of Excellence lead, says a common theme at this seminar is finding ways to prevent disease.

“If you start to think about the role of the health system and moving upstream in wellness, now you’re starting to see this idea of whole health,” said Vega.

Schlueter says making a difference in the lives of veterans is what brings all these health care professionals, academics and industry leaders to the same room.

“To serve those who served is honestly an honor," said Schlueter.

The kidney care began in 2017 in Lexington and already has spread to eight VA centers.

It did win in the DC conference, along with 11 other health care programs around the country. There were 15 finalists out of 500 programs that applied to this competition.

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