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Dietician Ashley Littleton provides new educational services at Memorial Hospital of Converse County

After watching family members, especially her dad, struggle with health issues, Ashley Littleton wanted to learn all she could about health and wellness and use that knowledge to help others. After becoming a registered dietician, Littleton left Wyoming for a few years, working at small and large hospitals across the nation, including the Hampton VA Medical Center in Virginia, before moving back to Wyoming earlier this year. Now working at Memorial Hospital of Converse County, Littleton is the program coordinator for the Diabetes Self-Management Education Program, and serves in several other capacities as a dietician.

"I just wanted to help other people lessen the severity of health-related diseases," Littleton said. "I'm happy to be back in a smaller community where the connection is much closer. My goal is to help people be their healthiest self."

Already Littleton is working to increase her connection to the community, providing a new Healthy Weight Class that started this summer. She plans to offer another 10-week class starting October 5 to help people learn how to maintain a healthy weight. With support from the Memorial Hospital of Converse County administration, the class is just one of the many Littleton hopes to offer to community members and hospital patrons.

"Here, I am allowed to be progressive with some of the education I provide and be more individualized with the care I provide," Littleton said. "I am allowed to tailor my recommendations for people."

As the only registered dietician on staff, Littleton is providing support to patients one-on-one, working closely with diabetic patients, collaborating with the cafeteria staff on food options and consulting with hospital patients on nutrition and wellness, among many other tasks.

"Here, it's easier to see the need of the community and make a change pretty quickly," Littleton said. "I really love the interaction with the people in the community."

In the future, Littleton said she hopes to create a cardiac health class as well as a diabetes teaching group to help those newly diagnosed with the disease. In addition, she works with patients already living with diabetes helping them with continuous glucose monitoring, starting insulin pumps and providing general diabetes nutritional information.

"There's an increasing number of patients who have diabetes," Littleton said. "We really want to be a resource for them. We want the program to be all encompassing and support them through their lifespan."

While Littleton is proud to be a Wyoming native, she also values what she's learned from her experiences working in more populated areas, experiences she knows are an asset when working with patients.

"I've been able to have small hospital and big hospital experiences," Littleton said. "I'm able to give a different perspective because I have been away from Wyoming for a little bit."

But ultimately, she's happy to be back in the state and working at Memorial Hospital of Converse County.

"I've enjoyed my patients greatly," Littleton said. "I'm here to support them in their goals. They've been really great and really taking the stuff we've talked about and changing their lifestyles."