Article by Loretta Jay, NFCA Director of Program Development, featured in Today’s Dietitian
February 2010 Issue
Vol. 12 No. 2 P. 14
In 1995, newly diagnosed with celiac disease and motivated to educate others, Margaret Weiss Masiello left her lucrative career as a financial planner to go back to school to become a dietitian. One of her first jobs in the field was with the ALS Association Greater New York Chapter. The patients there were provided with physical therapy, occupational therapy, speech pathology, and mental health and nutritional counseling through weekly clinics.
The multidisciplinary approach of this clinic struck a chord with Masiello as it acknowledged the effects that ALS can have on many aspects of life, and it made sense to target treatment accordingly. Masiello continued this interest when she began working as the dietitian and clinical coordinator at the Kogan Celiac Center at the Saint Barnabas Health Care System in New Jersey.
At the helm of the center, Masiello soon realized that Saint Barnabas’ network of 18 hospitals and rehabilitation centers was in need of training on how to not only manage a gluten-free diet for patients with celiac disease but also recognize potentially undiagnosed or misdiagnosed patients. Masiello’s experience at the ALS clinic provided her with a multidisciplinary model she wanted to apply and further develop at Saint Barnabas.
The timing was opportune. The National Foundation for Celiac Awareness (NFCA) had recently completed a needs assessment about celiac disease training in hospitals and confirmed that the call for educational services was great. As a result, the NFCA was developing a first-of-its-kind, comprehensive continuing education program for healthcare providers called GREAT Healthcare (Gluten-free Resource Education and Awareness Training). It was a perfect fit, and Saint Barnabas, with Masiello in the lead, was identified as the pilot location.