October 05, 2009
AGH room service program results in higher patient satisfaction
Glendale Heights – A new room service program at Adventist GlenOaks Hospital aims to transform the negative way patients view hospital food – a technique that appears to be working. Since implementing its “At Your Request” room service program more than a year ago, patient satisfaction has increased and food waste decreased, according to clinical nutrition manager Ellen Royer.
The program allows patients to phone in their meal orders right from their hospital bed between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m., selecting from a varied menu located in their room. Available food items include a wide assortment of entrees – both meat-based and vegetarian – sandwiches, soups and desserts that cater to individual taste and cultural backgrounds with no strict limitations on when certain foods are offered.
“Patients can order a quesadilla for breakfast and cereal for dinner,” Royer said. “They can order an omelet with onions and green peppers instead of hearing, ‘Sorry, everyone gets a cheese omelet.’ It’s empowering.”
If the patient orders a food item that is excluded from his or her recommended diet, the hospital employee taking the order will inform the patient that particular food choice is not an option. Yet even those guidelines contain some flexibility.
“If a diabetic patient wants a piece of pie, he or she can have a piece of pie,” Royer said. “But their main meal might contain a very small amount of carbohydrate because that day’s allotment was taken up by the pie. If someone on a cardiac diet wants fried chicken, we can recommend a healthier option.”
Once an order is placed, the ticket goes through three different scanners that inform staff the location of the meal tray as it passes the various food stations before coming to the patient. The meal ticket also provides nutritional information to the patients so they can see the amount of calories and carbohydrates contained in that meal.
“Our room service program puts the power back in the patient’s hands,” Royer said. “This is important because so much control is taken away from patients the moment they are admitted to the hospital. They’re told what to eat, when to take a shower, what to wear, when to go to the bathroom and when to take their medicine. We want the patients to choose what they want to eat, just as if they were at home.”
Previously, dietary staff planned meals 24 hours before serving them. They limited dietary entrees to three items and meal schedules were rigid – procedures that didn’t take into account a patient’s unique dietary needs or the timing of tests.
Greg Hansen, director of dietary services, noted that the room service program also has had a positive impact on hospital employees.
“Members of our team really feel like they are helping patients because they see them and talk to them more than they ever have before this program was implemented,” Hansen said. “And that also has resulted in more opportunities for patient education. Patients aren’t just names – they are people entrusted to our care. It’s a responsibility that we don’t take lightly.”
“At Your Request” has been implemented at two of Adventist GlenOaks Hospital’s sister hospitals, Adventist Bolingbrook and Adventist La Grange Memorial Hospitals. “At Your Request” is a trademark program of Sodexo, the contract management services company that provides food services at these hospitals.