Room Service Helps Patients Heal By Providing Right Food at Right Time

Janet Frank

 (801) 357-7766

 janet.frank@imail.org

 7/22/2011

When you’re sick, only certain foods sound good and you’re never sure when you’re going to want to eat. Utah Valley Regional Medical Center understands this unpredictability and is now providing room service to help patients get the nutrition they need.

“It’s important for patients to eat well. They heal faster and recover better when we provide what they’ll eat and room service allows us to do that,” said Laura Watson, director of Food and Nutrition Services at Utah Valley Regional.

Rather than receiving a “surprise” food tray on a set schedule, patients now order what they’d like to eat whenever they’d like to eat it between 7 a.m. and 8:30 p.m. A call center takes each patient’s order and the food is delivered within the next 45 minutes.

“There’s no more thinking lunch comes at 11 a.m. Patients can eat earlier or later or four times a day – whenever they get hungry,” said Watson.

Employees in the room service call center can identify each patient who places an order and they know if that person has any dietary restrictions or food allergies. Seven different menus have been created to accommodate all dietary needs.

The hospital surveyed patients in order to formulate those menus. It was an important step in the process in order to get a good sense of what kinds of foods appealed to patients dealing with a wide variety of diagnoses.

“Our Med/Surg patients requested very simple types of foods like toast, more cold cereal options and plain grilled cheese sandwiches. We had to consider what patients who aren’t feeling very well would want to eat,” said Watson.

The new service has been added without any additional cost being transferred to patients. In fact, Watson predicted that room service will help control costs better than the previous system.

“We’ll actually be able to manage our costs better by reducing waste. This is not an extravagant thing. Patients want what they want to eat when they are ready to eat. It’s a huge satisfier,” said Watson.
Utah Valley Regional began piloting room service in March of last year on the Mother/Baby Unit, with moms who had just delivered. To provide the service to the entire facility, changes had to be made in the kitchen area in order to switch from cooking in bulk to cooking individual, made-to-order items.

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