Nouvelles du CIUSSS

Veiller au bien-être de l’enfant, avant même sa naissance!

Meet Sandra Di Benedetto, a nutritionist with the Youth Program Directorate. Assigned to the Family-Child-Youth sector at the CLSC de LaSalle, she is fully aware of the fact that nutrition is a constantly evolving science. Nutritional recommendations made in the past may not necessarily apply today. She therefore strives to provide future parents in vulnerable situations with the tools they need.

Ms. Di Benedetto, can you talk to us about your career path?

“I graduated from Cégep de Saint-Hyacinthe in 2006 with a diploma in health sciences. I then earned a bachelor’s degree in nutritional sciences from the Université de Montréal. As part of that program, I completed 40 weeks of internships working in various settings and with a wide range of clienteles.

Professionally speaking, I started out as a project manager with a community organization headed by the CLSC Kateri, in Châteauguay. As part of my duties, I oversaw the development of nutrition workshops for children aged 0 to 17. My efforts were far-reaching and had an impact on drop-in childcare centres, youth centres, food initiatives aimed at parents and their children, etc. My interest in nutrition and youth blossomed from there.”

And how did you end up joining our organization?

“I filled in for someone at the CLSC de LaSalle who was on maternity leave. Four years later, I secured a permanent position as a nutritionist.”

Can you give us a brief overview of the services offered by your sector?

“First is the perinatal component, which extends from the 12th week of pregnancy until the child’s birth. Integrated follow-ups are offered to pregnant women with socioeconomic or psychosocial vulnerabilities, for example.  Oftentimes, these women are referred to programs such as OLO or SIPPE. Nurse-led individual or group sessions consisting of 10 to 15 people are available. Among some of the topics covered: preparing for childbirth and breastfeeding, nutritional assessments and healthy eating education activities.

The second component focuses on children from birth to age 5. It addresses nutrition-related health aspects, such as: premature babies, fortification of breast milk, failure to thrive, allergies, obesity, vitamin deficiencies, etc.”

What are your main functions?

“I assess nutritional disorders and conditions, develop personalized treatment plans, educate and perform pre- and post-natal follow-ups with at-risk women and children.   

I am also involved in community-based prevention and health promotion. My focus is mostly on leading prenatal meetings, introducing complementary foods, the parents’ and the child’s role during mealtimes, and reducing iron deficiencies in young children.”

What do you love most about your job?

“Having the opportunity to intervene early on and, in so doing, playing a positive role in the child’s life. Pregnancy is a wonderful time in a family’s life. Our “baby steps” approach can make a real difference.

I also enjoy mentoring my colleagues, as it ensures consistency in terms of the information we share with families.” 

What are some of the key challenges you face?

“Working with clients from various ethnic backgrounds can be challenging in itself. We have to respect the values, traditions and pace of each family. Also, because of the language barrier often encountered, we must call on the services of interpreters.

Factors such as the growing number of immigrants, runaway inflation and financial precarity are other elements that contribute to the growing waiting lists.”

Is there an achievement you’re particularly proud of?

“I was involved in the creation of the "Branché santé" program, in collaboration with a nutritionist from the CIUSSS du Centre-Sud-de-l’Île-de-Montréal, for four years. This program, launched in 2016, is aimed at children aged 9 to 12. It encourages children and their families to embrace a healthy lifestyle. The focus is on such things as balanced nutrition, physical activity, stress management, self-esteem and positive body image, all in a fun context.”

Ms. Di Benedetto kindly agreed to share some aspects of her personal life with us…

Tell us a little about yourself…

“I’ve always lived on the South Shore. My husband and I are the proud parents of two boys, Hugo and Enzo, both karate aficionados. We enjoy many sports as a family, including skating, snowshoeing, downhill skiing, swimming and cycling.”

What do you do to unwind?

“I really enjoy hot yoga and have been practicing with a co-worker for about ten years.”

Do you enjoy travelling?

“Absolutely! Portugal and Sicily, where my father is from, are among some of the countries we have visited. We are also fond of going down south and camping.”

“Our services, offered by nutritionists, nurses, social workers, psychoeducators and family assistants, are open to those who want to take advantage of them”, says Ms. Di Benedetto. Here she is, pictured with Nancy Paiement, nurse clinician, IBCLC (left), and Stéphanie Scott, nurse (right).

“My interventions consist of one-on-one meetings, group workshops, in-home visits or visits to community organizations, states our featured employee, who is a certified IBCLC (International Board Certified Lactation Consultant).

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