LUDINGTON – Patients at Memorial Medical Center in Ludington now choose their meals from a room service menu. The new service was initiated this week by Sodexo, the hospital’s dietary services company.
Known as At Your Request (AYR), the room service concept provides patients with a menu of breakfast, lunch and dinner items as extensive as many restaurants. However, the vast majority of items have a “heart healthy” symbol next to them.
There are nearly two dozen entrée and grill items in the lunch and dinner sections, plus build-your-own pasta and deli sandwich selections and various salad and dressing combinations. These are complimented by dozens of side dishes, beverages, condiments and desserts. Breakfast selections are also varied.
“It’s a much more complicated food service program,” said Meagen Vander Vlucht, general manager of dietary, environmental services and laundry. “But it’s so much better for our patients that our staff is excited by the opportunity and challenge. We promise patients to have their meal to them within 45 minutes.”
Tanya Lesinski is the staff dietitian for the new program. “If patients don’t initiate an order, we follow up with them and the nursing staff to make sure everyone receives a meal,” she said. “And we take care to follow any special diet needs for each patient.”
“Guest trays are also available for family members and visitors,” VanderVlucht added, “who can eat right in the room with the patient. We think this will make recovery a bit more pleasant.”
Patients order meals by dialing EAT (328) on their room phone. Any item can be ordered as long as it complies with care prescribed by the patient’s doctor. Meals can be ordered any time between 6:30 a.m. and 6:30 p.m. Up to three meals can be ordered in advance.
Exceptions are made for patients with particular dietary restrictions specified by their doctors. Those restrictions are entered in the dietary computer system and, to avoid mistakes, are available on-screen for the staff person taking the order. If a patient requests something not available within their diet, they are offered suitable alternatives.
In addition to the standard menu, a variety of special diet choices are provided, including those for diabetes, cardiac, renal (kidney), and a full section of liquid diet items. Even pureed items are available for those with swallowing or chewing problems.
Previously patients could choose from a limited selection chosen by the dietary staff for each meal. They checked off their choices on an in-room order form and meals were served at set times.
“The AYR menu is much more varied,” said Lesinski. “Each meal is custom selected from the full menu by the patient, and can be ordered at the time that best suits their needs and home routine. Ultimately, I believe this will improve how well patients eat while hospitalized and thus improve their nutrition.”