Dietary team saves patient's life with delicious food


It’s not often the Dietary team gets credited with saving a life, but the team at Garfield Memorial Hospital did just that recently. A patient came to the hospital who had trouble eating and only weighed 90 pounds, and the Dietary team stepped in with delicious food to get him back to a healthy weight.


Chef Bob Bryant

Garfield’s head chef, Bob Bryant—who formerly worked as a chef for Harmon’s and was regularly featured on KUTV Channel 2—says, “The patient didn’t think he was hungry. He says he didn’t ever feel hungry. This, despite that he was severely malnourished and underweight.”

Garfield’s nursing staff connected the patient directly to the kitchen staff, and the exceptional service and kindness of the staff helped the patient feel at ease.

“Our team trains extensively on offering superb customer service,” says Chef Bob. “When you decrease someone’s anxiety it helps them heal. And we have such a wonderful team here at Garfield that knows and lives this so well. We wanted to help him to want to eat. So we invested time to talk though possible food choices with him. I would hear one of our staff talk to him at each meal on the phone, asking what might sound good to him, or what he thinks he could eat. And then we would talk through every option, every possibility, the availability of different menu items, until we could find something that sounded good to him.”

As the patient began to eat, it helped his appetite to slowly return. While he was in acute care, it was necessary to stick to the room service menu items, but as he continued to get well and was transferred to skilled care, the calls to the kitchen increased. “He was finally eating and eating!” smiles Chef Bob. “He’d call up five times a day and order so much food.”

What did he order? As he grew stronger, breakfast was three eggs over medium, yogurt, toast, orange juice, and ginger ale.  “And he loved everything for dinner,” says Chef Bob. “Meatloaf, our salmon, herbed chicken. His last meal here was the salmon, cooked carrots, and steamed broccoli.”

The selection, quality of food, and the true caring and dedication the Garfield Dietary team showed this patient helped save his life. “The patient indicated to us he was ready to give up,” says Chef Bob. “During his stay at the hospital we were able to put more than 20 pounds on him, and in a nutritious and healthy way. He was still only 110 pounds, and so you can imagine what gaining this essential weight did for his health.”

“I wish to share with all of you my most sincere appreciation and for the incredible kindness and unbelievable expertise you’ve shared with me, enabling me to regain my health,” the patient said in a letter to the Dietary staff. “You’ve truly fattened me up with great food and with kindness. … I will think about and remember you for a long time to come.”

“Historically, hospital food has gotten a bad rap,” says Chef Bob. “We’re very proud to dispel that reputation. When you eat good, comforting, nutritious, and delicious food, in a very powerful way it directly helps patients get better. We’re grateful for this kind letter and for the opportunity to help this patient, and every patient, that comes through the doors of Garfield Memorial with really good, nutritious, excellent tasting food.”