Karen Hurd's Letter to Senator Vinehout
January 31, 2009
The Honorable Kathleen Vinehout
Room 104 South
P.O. Box 7882
Madison, WI 53707
Dear Senator Vinehout:
I am writing in regards to the proposed Wisconsin Dietetics Association bill that is currently under consideration for sponsorship. I am a business owner in Fall Creek, Wisconsin, and the impact of the proposed bill, if adopted, would put me out of business.
I am a nutritionist, having studied at the American Academy of Nutrition (now called Huntington College of Health Sciences). I received my diploma in Comprehensive Nutrition in May of 1994. To complete this diploma, eighteen college credit hours in specific nutritional coursework were required (Understanding Nutrition I, Clinical Nutrition, Introduction to Anatomy and Physiology, Understanding Nutrition II, Environmental Challenges, Nutrition Counseling Skills). Prior to obtaining this schooling, I had completed my Bachelors of Arts in Languages, graduating Summa Cum Laude, from Truman State University (previously known as Northeast Missouri State University). I also graduated as the honor student from the United States Army course in Nuclear, Biological, Chemical Defense Warfare, as well as graduating from the U.S. Army Military Intelligence and Electronic Warfare Defense Schools receiving a military specialty in Electronic Defense—Military Intelligence. Upon completing my time in military service as a Captain, I received the Army Commendation Medal for outstanding work and service.
Since completing the above coursework, I officially began a private practice in nutrition, first in Granite City, Illinois, until 1996, and then relocated my practice to Fall Creek, Wisconsin, due to the acceptance of a job offer by my husband in Wisconsin. We moved our family to this state, and I have practiced nutritional counseling in Wisconsin since 1996. Currently, I am enrolled as a student of the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire (UWEC) where I am working on the coursework needed for acceptance in the PhD Nutritional program at the University of Minnesota. Thus far I have completed Statistics, Biology, General Chemistry I, and am currently enrolled in General Chemistry II. I will be continuing my studies with Organic and Inorganic Chemistry, Calculus, Physiology, and Biochemistry. I also am a certified grant writer having received my certification from the UWEC, after completing the required graduate coursework.
My practice has grown in the fifteen years since I have been in business. I currently have several thousand clients that I serve. I have an average of twenty-five new clients a week. I employ thirteen people: secretaries, receptionists, bookkeeper, web technician, data base technician, an associate nutritionist who holds a Bachelors of Science in Biology (UWEC), a nutritional apprentice who will be completing her Bachelors of Science in Nursing (UWEC) in December 2009. I also employ as contract workers, a chef, test kitchen cook, and photographer who have been working on the creation of recipes for the cookbook that I will be publishing this summer.
In addition to these employees and contract workers as business commitments, I purchased a building in August 2008 for my office in the business sector of Fall Creek. I have hired a general contractor to complete the renovation on the building. He began work immediately and will continue the project until completion (estimated summer 2009). The building is being restored to its historical appearance (circa 1907). To help me in this project the Wisconsin Regional Business Fund and the Village of Fall Creek approved the plans and funding for a façade renovation. I have applied for and received a Downtown Façade loan from the West Central Wisconsin Regional Planning Commission at zero percent interest. Additionally, the Small Business Association of the United States Federal government, has approved a loan in the amount of $210,000 to construct and renovate my office building.
I do many educational public speaking events. In June 2008, a local radio station (WWIB) sponsored a nutritional seminar at the Florian Gardens in Eau Claire. There were over 700 people in attendance. We followed in September with a Weight Loss Seminar serving over 300 people a nutritionally healthy and weight-loss-friendly dinner. In January 2009, we had over 350 people turn out for a seminar on the nutritional aspects of Depression and Anxiety despite the -8 degree weather. I am a regular guest on Front Page, a current events program on the radio station WWIB in Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin. I speak on this radio station every 2nd and 4th Wednesday from 10:00-11:00 a.m. on nutrition, as well as having a client give testimony to the changes in their health since applying nutritional principles. There are 100,000 listeners to this radio program. The UWEC has had me as a guest instructor in their continuing education program, and I will be the guest lecturer this April to the UWEC graduate Nurse Practitioners program. I will be speaking on nutrition as it relates to gastro-intestinal health. I also do other speaking engagements with local organizations including schools, churches, and libraries.
I published a book in December 2006 entitled And They Said It Wasn’t Possible (ISBN #141208212-9). It details the stories of several of my clients who were healed from Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, and rheumatoid arthritis through nutritional means. The books are sold not only from my office, but through Amazon.com and many local stores (the Eau Claire Borders Book Store, Rose of Sharon bookstore—Menonmonie, Weaver’s Store—Fall Creek, Mother’s Nature Store—Eau Claire, bookstores in LaCrosse and River Falls as well as bookstores in other parts of the country.) I am sending you a copy of my book under separate cover.
I am currently writing my third book, The Cowboy Diet, which is slated to be published in December of this year. My second book, the cookbook that I already mentioned, will be published this summer. I have published three DVD/CDs on nutrition that continue to be excellent educational tools. The topics are on general nutrition, weight loss, and anxiety/depression. I would be happy to send you copies of these DVDs also, if you so desire.
My clientele are many and varied. They are from every occupation—from concrete worker to trial lawyer. Many of my clientele are health professionals—including medical doctors, nurses, nurse practitioners, neural surgeons, and health administrators. Even registered dieticians are part of my clientele as they seek my counsel as a nutritionist to help them with their health problems.
I have many medical doctors, physician’s assistants, nurse practitioners, physical therapists, dentists, and chiropractors that refer their patients to me for nutritional counseling. I have enclosed a list of physicians that work with me in helping people to excellent health.
Because the use of nutrition to improve and even cure disease has little published research, I hired a computer programmer in the summer of 2008 to write a data base program that can be used as a research tool. To date, my staff has been able to input over 700 client files into the data base. We have another 6000 to input. This data base allows queries that will facilitate the publishing of scientifically-based studies. One of the statisticians and mathematics professors at the UWEC has agreed to work with me in the statistical analysis of the data. The thousands of files and years of research once compiled into statistical data will have the potential of changing millions of lives for the better.
It might also interest you to read why I decided to become a nutritionist. That detailed story is posted on my website KarenHurd.com and is entitled The Green Dragon. It deals with the poisoning of my daughter by organophosphates, her terminal prognosis, and her recovery through the use of nutrition from what was deemed impossible.
It needs to be noted that I am not a registered dietician despite all my education, experience, and expertise. I do not desire to be a registered dietician. I do not seek that certification as my philosophy is not a registered dietician’s philosophy. The proposed bill excludes people like me from practicing because we are not registered dieticians or approved by the American Dietetic Association (ADA). The ADA is a non-profit professional organization that has a particular philosophy in approaching nutrition. My nutritional philosophy is different in many respects to theirs. Having a different philosophy does not mean that it is harmful, in fact, quite the opposite—it is beneficial. There is not one particular way to practice nutrition; there are many—just as there are many different ways that medical doctors practice medicine. It would be a travesty to prohibit the practice of nutritional counseling to only one special-interest group (i.e. the ADA).
Many concerned citizens that are worried that their health freedom may be endangered from this bill or bills like it have banded together to form the National Nutritional Wellness Association. This association is recently formed; the Articles of Incorporation are being filed by Weld, Riley, Prenn, and Ricci, SC, an attorney firm in Eau Claire.
The bill as sponsored in the 2008 legislation specifically would prohibit me from practicing. As my training is different from what is required by the bill and I do indeed practice exactly what is being prohibited, I will be outlawed from bringing health to thousands of individuals. I quote the proposed bill from last year:
6) "Practice of dietetics and nutrition care services" includes each of the following but does not include the retail sale of food products or vitamins:
a) Assessing the nutritional needs of an individual or group of individuals based upon biochemical, anthropometric, physical, and dietary data; determining the resources and constraints to meet the nutritional needs of that individual or group of individuals; and recommending proper nutrition intake to satisfy those needs.
(b) Establishing priorities, goals, and objectives to meet the nutritional needs of the individual or group of individuals based on available resources and constraints.
(c) Providing nutrition counseling to an individual or group of individuals regarding health and disease.
(d) Evaluating, adjusting, and maintaining standards of quality in dietetics and nutrition care services.
(e) Providing medical nutrition therapy.
If the bill is sponsored and subsequently adopted, I will no longer be able to practice in the state of Wisconsin. My thirteen employees will lose their jobs. My general contractor and the sub-contractors will no longer have my business building renovation as a job; my three contract workers will also lose their jobs. Thousands of people in Wisconsin will no longer have a health-freedom choice to seek counseling for their health problems with a nutritionist (who is not a registered dietician).
I am willing to provide further testimony, as well as bring hundreds of other testimonies to you and/or the Senate/Assembly in reference this issue. If you would like to reach me, I will remain available to speak to you at any time.
Karen R. Hurd