Hospital Food: The Pros Weigh In

by Zora O'Neill on March 7, 2006

The New York Times today has a story about hospital food (registration required). The second graf rang true:

…Mrs. Tobias, 81, picked at a lukewarm chicken breast and rice pilaf dampened with sticky brown sauce. Boiled carrot sticks and shredded iceberg lettuce with a packet of low-calorie French dressing filled out the tray. She said her fruit cocktail tasted as if someone had rinsed it in running water and squeezed it dry…. “All of it tastes like nothing, and it smells worse,” she said to her granddaughter in Tagalog.

Interesting fact: “In some facilities, more than a third of the food served on an average day goes untouched.”

But apparently there’s hope:

…nutritionists say the medical profession has begun to recognize that good-tasting, culturally correct food that is served at the proper temperature and when a patient is ready to eat can help people feel better faster, save on food costs and attract patients with good insurance plans.

This is interesting–do I count as a patient with a good insurance plan? I’m not sure. Are hospitals competing for the opportunity to run CT scans on me?

On the other hand, a lot of hospitals don’t feel motivated to overhaul the food service because “there is no definitive connection between fresher, better tasting food and healthier patients.” So, uh, they shouldn’t bother?

“Floor workers have had to deal with thrown trays and tears when the doctors’ orders did not match what was on the tray.” I never would’ve done anything like that. No way.

The gist of the rest of the article is that some hospitals are starting to follow a room-service model for food delivery, with a big menu and the ability to order at any time of day. The only flaw here, of course, is that room-service food often sucks as well.

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