New personalized service offers patients choices tailored to their individual needs


NASSAWADOX, Va. – July 2013 –  Thanks to a new personalized service at Riverside Shore Memorial Hospital, patients can look forward to a whole new take on "hospital food".  Choosing their own meals from a menu of appetizing and nutritious options allows patients to customize their meal to suit their tastes.  

"We wanted to add a personalized touch and create a memorable experience," said Nick Brucker, Director of Food and Nutrition Services.  "Food is one of the things at the hospital that a patient has to look forward to, and they'll remember it for quite some time.  In our patient-centered approach to care, we want to give patients as many choices and as much control over their day as possible while they're here."

Since the change was implemented in early June, the response from patients has been overwhelmingly positive. 

Nutrition services team members visit every patient before lunch and dinner and walk patients through the choices for the upcoming meal.  The team member has the patient's electronic health record on a tablet computer with any dietary restrictions as ordered by the doctor.  Using the computer, the team member can determine whether the patient's choices fit within his or her recommended diet.  The computer also keeps a running count of how each choice impacts the patient's dietary goals, such as calories, sodium, sugar, carbohydrates and fat.

This one-on-one time with patients allows team members to educate patients on a restricted diet about how each food choice affects their total allowances.  Patients learn how to make adjustments to their diet so they can pick foods they want to eat based on their dietary needs – a skill they can take home with them.

The team members also have a better understanding of the patient's physical condition and how it might affect their ability to eat.  For instance, someone having trouble with an arm might not want to order a sandwich that they have to pick up with two hands.  Team members can help the patient find just the right option.

The same team member who takes the order makes the tray, delivers it and picks it up.  That means the patient sees the same nutrition services team member eight times a day, ensuring patients plenty of opportunities to offer feedback and be more satisfied with their meals.

The hospital's menu includes two daily chef's specials for lunch and dinner plus a menu of all-time favorites – including soups, salads, sandwiches, pizza, macaroni and cheese, chicken tenders and baked fish – that are always available.

"Your nutrition is never more important than when you are trying to recover from illness or injury, and we know that providing a customized meal experience is what our patients want us to do," said Dr. Susan McAndrews, Administrator at Riverside Shore Memorial Hospital.  "Not only is our food tasty and nutritious, it is delivered by some of the nicest folks you'll ever meet.  They truly put our mission - to care for others as we would care for those we love - into practice."

Riverside Shore Memorial Hospital is the third Riverside hospital to switch to the new food service system.  Riverside Walter Reed Hospital and Riverside Tappahannock have already made the switch.

Published: July 8, 2013