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Q&A with VMRC's Registered Dietitian Julie Thurnau

March 31, 2022
Categories: Health | Our Community

As we wrap up National Nutrition Month® we invite you to learn more about VMRC's Registered Dietitian Julie Thurnau, 

What does a typical day look like for you as the Dietitian at VMRC? 

Julie: My day usually starts by answering my email, which will include information about any new admissions in the supportive living areas of VMRC. I’ll then begin completing a nutritional assessment for each person to ensure any diet or health needs are met. Medicare requires interdisciplinary paperwork for payment and to ensure quality of care, so I will also begin that process. My typical days also include ensuring we are meeting regulations with nutritional assessments, documentation, and paperwork for payment during a patient’s stay in Transitional Care. The entire clinical team meets at least weekly to review the progress of residents and change their care plan as needed. If there are any diet education needs, I will address those before a patient is discharged. Ideally, additional diet education will occur after the person goes home as well.

We’re currently looking at expanding the at-home education, thanks to an endowment from a previous resident, Mary Ethyl Heatwole, who was also a dietitian. Her endowment sponsored the free diabetes/lipid screening the Wellness Center and I did a few weeks ago for National Nutrition Month.

What drew you to this position or to VMRC in general? 

Julie: I was fortunate to cover for the previous VMRC dietitian, Lauren, when she went on maternity leave for both of her children. During my time at VMRC, I really enjoyed working with other employees and residents. The vibe here is very positive and caring, which made my time very positive. Later, when I interviewed for this job, my skills and ideas seemed to mesh with the vision and goals of the leadership team. It has almost been a year since I joined the VMRC family, and I am still so grateful to be the dietitian here!

What is the single most important piece of nutrition advice you would give someone?

This is tough because diets are very specific to an individual’s health needs. That is why diet books and fad diets don’t work as effectively as individual medical nutrition therapy. However, in general, it’s common for a large portion of excess empty calories to come from drinks. I tend to evaluate what someone drinks first. If they need or want to lose weight, I recommend they only drink water and other non-calorie items.  

What's something people would be surprised to learn about you?

I am also a certified RYTT200 yoga teacher.


About Julie:

Julie is originally from Ohio but has lived in Virginia since 1996. She has two children, Andrew, a senior at HHS and Olivia, a junior at HHS/MTC. She has one dog named Cricket and three rescue cats, Shroomi, Prince and Archie.

Julie loves to garden and especially enjoys planting bulbs and volunteer plants from friends, neighbors and family. She said, "My front yard blooms the entire season which reminds me of my Grandmother’s garden." Julie also loves going to thrift stores and auctions to find vintage items and recently bought a vintage record player and vinyl albums that include the Beatles and other rock bands from the 60s and 70s.

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“For us, volunteering gives us the opportunity to meet people from all areas of the VMRC campus and has broadened our perspective and understanding of the community we now call ‘home’.”

- Carter and Mary Ellen Lyons