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Nutrition Alum Respond to COVID-19 Challenges

May 19, 2020

Kellsey Frank in front of a camera wearing a Philadelphia Union shirtWhile COVID-19 and its ripple effects have certainly turned the world, as we know it, upside-down, it's been truly inspiring to see the ways in which distance has been able to connect us further, both personally and professionally.

For me, as a sports dietitian and an assistant director of the Center for Nutrition & Performance (CNP) in the Department of Nutrition Sciences, this connection has been multi-faceted. My role here at Drexel includes working as the team sports dietitian for the Philadelphia Union, providing outpatient nutrition counseling to Drexel employees, students and community members, and teaching as an adjunct instructor in the Department of Nutrition Sciences. Despite the recent and abrupt changes we've all been forced to make, I'm extremely grateful for the work that we, as a team, have been able to convert to a remote setting for all of the above responsibilities.

In working with the Philadelphia Union, I have maintained consistent communication with the team and have continued to work individually with players who I was working with before the COVID-19 pandemic, in addition to participating in virtual team cooking challenges and connecting virtually with other dietitians across the country in Major League Soccer. However, beyond the usual responsibilities, I have provided the team with resources specific to the pandemic, such as a Food Safety and Preparedness Protocol, grocery shopping guidance and at-home meal delivery services and kits to encourage optimal performance nutrition while training from home.

One of the projects I am most proud of has been Drexel's collaboration with the Union's new Fight for Philly Campaign. This initiative aims to provide thousands of Personal Protective Equipment and meals to frontline workers and vulnerable populations in the greater Philadelphia area. In hearing about the work that the Materials Science and Engineering Department here at Drexel has been doing to produce face shields, we decided to pool our resources and connect for the greater good. Thus, we have been able to donate face shields on behalf of Drexel University towards the Union's Fight for Philly Campaign, one that we strongly believe in and support.

Additionally, I have been providing virtual nutrition counseling sessions via telehealth to both past and new clients as a dietitian with CNP’s Nutrition Sciences Services. It has been an opportunity for me to remain connected with and provide support to my clients while also allowing them to feel comfortable in their home environment. Finally, as an adjunct instructor in the Department of Nutrition Sciences, I have been transforming my classes this term to be virtual sessions via Zoom. In an effort to expand opportunities and experiences for my students, I’ve been conducting break-out sessions to further group interaction and inviting guest speakers in various fields of nutrition to join our class sessions. Without the creativity, support and camaraderie of the Center for Nutrition & Performance, the Department of Nutrition Sciences and the College of Nursing and Health Professions as a whole, none of these adaptations would have been possible.

As an employee and alumna of the Department of Nutrition Sciences, I am so grateful every day to be a Dragon and I’m proud of everything our University has been able to accomplish through such unprecedented times!

To recharge after a long day, I exercise, take walks with my dog, read, cook and bake and spend time outdoors with my family.

Kellsey Frank, MS '16, RD, LDN, Sports Dietitian and Assistant Director, Center for Nutrition & Performance


Telehealth Nutrition Services

Right now, Americans are quarantined to their homes, many experiencing loss of incomes. They may have chronic uncontrolled diseases that are related to nutrition and have lost contact with their outpatient nutrition services that were offered in the office. These patients may additionally face the burden of food insecurity, compromised food safety and food cost for themselves and their families during a time when jobs are scarce and income may be affected.

Telehealth nutrition appointmentIn response to the recent announcement from Independence Blue Cross and Aetna insurance plans to support telehealth nutrition services, the Nutrition Sciences Services team within the Center for Nutrition & Performance (CNP) has developed and executed a plan. With a loyal pre-established client base of Drexel employees, students and other community members, we took action to comply with all policies and procedures necessary to be able to swiftly begin conducting telehealth nutrition counseling. As of April 22nd, dietitians and Drexel nutrition alumnae Nyree Dardarian, MS, assistant clinical professor and CNP director, assistant directors Kellsey Frank, MS, and Andrea Irvine, MS, of the Center for Nutrition & Performance have been conducting virtual consultations, with the support of Stella Volpe, PhD, professor and chair of the Department of Nutrition Sciences, Khushboo Jain, graduate student and billing and administrative coordinator for CNP, and all of our CNP students.

Our telehealth program offers nutrition counseling for those with nutrition-related conditions or complications, the patients with the disease or those newly and rapidly discharged from the hospital without the standard education typically provided with discharge. This early discharge may result in a greater need for nutrition guidance to supplement the treatment received in-patient and therefore contribute to avoidance in repercussions that may further impact these individuals and our society. With this virtual platform, we hope to address the need for nutrition services that can be treated in an outpatient setting so as to avoid increasing the burden of hospital costs and resources and on frontline practitioners.

To recharge, the team spends virtual time with family, friends and each other!