Local hospital provides room service to help patients get the nutrition they need

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Rather than receiving a surprise food tray on a set schedule, patients now order what they’d like to eat whenever they’d like at Utah Valley Regional Medical Center (UVRMC). Room service is a new trend influencing the health care industry.

“It’s important for our patients to eat well,” said Chantel Jensen, clinical dietitian at UVRMC. “Room service helps our patients heal faster by providing the right food at the right time.”

UVRMC began piloting room service in March last year in the Mother/Baby Unit, with moms who had just delivered.

“There are many good reasons to adopt this new service,” said Laura Watson, director of food and nutrition services at UVRMC. “With this service, patients control their meal preferences and timing, they have greater choices from the menu and improve food quality and service temperatures.”

The new service has been added without any additional cost to patients. In fact, the hospital’s nutrition department predicted room service will help control costs better than the previous system.

“Actually, with the new system we are able to manage our costs better by reducing waste. This is not an extravagant thing,” Watson said. “Patients want what they want to eat when they are ready to eat. It’s a huge satisfier.”

A call center takes each patient’s order and the food is delivered within 45 minutes. 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.

“It was strange, to pick up the phone and order my food,” said Nancy Craig, a patient from Price, recovering from surgery. “Service is great … the food is healthy and the vegetables so fresh.”

Seven menus have been created to accommodate all dietary needs. The hospital surveyed patients to formulate those menus.

“It was an important step in the process in order to get a good sense of what kind of foods appealed to patients dealing with a wide variety of diagnoses,” Jensen said.

Room service has been in the health care industry for almost 20 years in different parts of the country. Offering hotel-quality room service in hospitals is a fairly new trend in health care, stemming from a renewed focus on customer service.

According to a 2008 survey performed by the National Society for Healthcare Foodservice Management, about 19 percent of hospitals nationwide offer room service, and more are working toward offering it.

“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,” Watson said. “With these advantages, the hospital staff is able to give each patient a better experience.”

To learn more about the different services provided by the hospital, visit intermountainhealthcare.org or follow @uvrmc on Twitter.

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