Changing Minds about Hospital Food

If you ask someone you know what the worst things about a hospital stay are, the food would be near the top of the list.

But lots of hospitals around the country are trying to change that.

On Wednesday, Portage Health in Hancock started offering what they call ‘room service dining’.

Patients and visitors can call the kitchen by phone, have a meal cooked to order for them and have it delivered right to them.

Even the menu is different, more like a restaurant’s.

The idea is to change the service element of a hospital stay.

Portage Health executive chef Paul Skinner says even in these first few days, patients are already saying the service is a lot better.

He says the change can be daunting for hospital staff, but it’s becoming easier every day.

A consulting firm that travels all over the country working on hospital food service has been helping Portage Health with the switch.

They say it’s been great to get rid of the tray lines.

Ron Sabatini is the executive chef with that consulting firm, Don Miller & Associates.

He says 40% to 45% of U.S. hospitals already approach food service like this, and many hospitals that don’t are looking for grants or other funding so they can make the switch, too.

Staff say there are actually twice as many guests in the hospital right now as usual.

So, this rollout time has been good practice for any kind of critical situation with the new restaurant-like system.