OGH serving fresh-made, expanded menu for patients and guests
Posted on: 05/17/2010
Olean General Hospital’s patients and guests are enjoying fresh-made meals that are more nutritional, stay hotter longer and look like high-end restaurant servings.
Gone are the days of reheating frozen food items, a practice still done in many institutional settings.
Instead, Olean General patients and café customers are being served freshly cooked meals with better taste and variety by Nutrition Services chefs and hostesses.
“We’re offering homemade mashed potatoes, soups, fresh-cut steamed vegetables, seasonal fruit, and meats slowly roasted the same day they’re served,” said Julie Becker, food service director for ARAMARK which provides management staff for Food Services at OGH.
For parents of newborns at OGH, “Complimentary gourmet dinners are prepared for them to help celebrate one of the biggest moments of their lives,” said Mrs. Becker.
Being sensitive to the multi-faceted needs of patients’ dietary needs, “We’ve introduced a wide-ranging menu that enables us to provide them with creative and comforting options that taste very good and bring a home-style experience to their room,” she said.
In addition to current dietary menu items such as regular, two-gram sodium and pureed options, “Our department coordinates with the kitchen for any special request such as vegetarian, vegan (a type of vegetarian diet that excludes meat, eggs, dairy products and all other animal-derived ingredients), and gluten-free,” Mrs. Becker said.
Nutritional information is also available for most items.
“Nutritional awareness is something we strive for,” she noted.
“A key aspect to patient care is ensuring each individual is getting the appropriate nutritional support needed for healing,” said Mary Fay, clinical nutrition manager/diabetes program coordinator at OGH. “Serving them fresh meals assures they are getting the nutrients naturally contained in the foods and that are not leached out through some processed method,” she said.
“Patients are very pleased with the wide variety of tasty foods on the menu,” Mrs. Fay noted.
Additionally, OGH has adopted a liberalized menu philosophy, which effectively puts most of the control over food choices and menu options into the hands of patients.
“Our doctors have embraced it and patients feel less restricted in their therapeutic diet. This allows us to improve the emotional well-being of patients,” Mrs. Fay said.
An added measure is ensuring cooked meals stay at the optimum temperature when delivered to patients by using the Aladdin Heat-On-Demand System. This keeps meals warm on a ceramic plate. Each base has a heat-induction element beneath it that’s activated within seconds and provides safe heat from the time the meal is prepared through the time it takes the patient to eat it.
“Members of Nutrition Services are also part of the Multi-Disciplinary Rounding Team which makes bedside visits to assure patients are satisfied and get the best possible care and outcomes during their hospitalization,” Mrs. Becker said.
Efforts to satisfy appetites and nutritional needs continue for staff and visitors.
“Our renovated cafe enables patients, visitors and hospital staff the ability to grab a meal, relax and refuel, or simply meet with friends between the hours of 7 a.m. to 6:30 p.m.,” Mrs. Becker said.
Café customers can enjoy fresh, home-style meals, oven-baked pizza and made-to-order grilled items, including the café’s signature panini grill.
“Also offered are what we call monotony breakers and exciting special events for everyone, including carving stations, waffle bars and action stations hosted by one of our in-house chefs,” Mrs. Becker said. There’s also a fresh salad bar with healthy soups.
The freshest ingredients possible go into every meal. Reheating frozen foods is a practice of the past.
As a result, Olean General’s Nutrition Services has steadily improved its offerings and satisfaction ratings. Press Ganey Associates Inc., which provides patient satisfaction surveys for the healthcare industry, indicated OGH’s customer satisfaction rating has increased by 30 points.
“We take pride in using the freshest ingredients to satisfy our guests,” said Mrs. Becker, who has 20 years of experience in hospitality, restaurant and campus dining food services.
“Food service is not standardized. It is constantly evolving and our employees are able to adapt to this ever-changing environment,” said Mrs. Becker. “The patients we are serving today are not the same patients we will be serving tomorrow. We want to know what they want and we want our service to fit those needs.”
Olean General Hospital and Bradford Regional Medical Center are members of Upper Allegheny Health System.
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