PFCC Star of the month: Lynn McCauley, Nutritionist, Nephrology

“Our patients with chronic kidney disease often have feeding issues and their parents have a huge task as they learn about food restrictions or different devices to help with feeding,” says Paule Comtois, January’s PFCC Star, who nominated Lynn McCauley for this month’s award. “Every day, Lynn makes a difference to these families by teaching them how to manage their child’s diet. She acknowledges their anxiety, and simply works through things step by step, showing them what to do. Her approach helps families settle into a very difficult part of their life, which is really important.”

Lynn has worked in the Children’s Nephrology department for most of her career, caring for children with all types of kidney problems. “They can be pre-dialysis or on dialysis, and I also follow children who have had kidney transplants,” she says. Children with chronic kidney disease often need diet restrictions, which may limit foods rich in phosphorous, potassium, sodium, fluids, or combinations of these. “I give parents the information and the tools they need but back at home, they are the ones who do all the work, feeding their child several times a day and following what is sometimes a complex diet.” Lynn believes that her communication with families is really important, and supporting and guiding them on an ongoing basis helps them succeed in managing their child’s care. “They have to think about it all the time, so I want to make sure they feel supported throughout the process.” Working with a great team is also something that Lynn values, and she often sees patients and families together with her nursing colleagues.

For children with chronic kidney disease, there is often more to consider than just dietary restrictions. “We have to monitor their growth and make sure they’re gaining weight properly, so all these things need to be incorporated in their care,” says Lynn.

Three-year-old Jayce and his parents got to know Lynn when Jayce was diagnosed with nephrogenic diabetes insipidus. Jayce was admitted to the Children’s when he was 10 months old. “We were there for two weeks and we saw Lynn daily,” says his mom, Crystal. “She often checked on him, and with the nephrologist, looked at his blood work to adjust the amount of formula and water he was taking in. I really think her dedication got him through it.” A couple of days before Jayce’s first birthday, they were back at the Children’s learning how to tube feed him, which they did at home for a year. “Lynn is amazing,” says Crystal. “She really goes above and beyond. We’ve just transitioned from monthly appointments to every three months, and we kind of miss her!”