May 01--Wesley Medical Center and Galichia Heart Hospital are offering a new food service to patients.
"The days of sending Jell-O to everyone in the hospital (are over)," said Wesley food services director Roger Hanson, whose staff serves about 1,000 patient meals at Wesley each day.
Under the old system, the hospitals would give a menu to patients, and they selected their meals for the next day.
With the new service, Wesley will offer specials each day in addition to a menu that Wesley's chief operating officer Bill Voloch says has a selection similar to a restaurant.
There will also be a "host" to electronically take each person's order using a program on a tablet called Health Touch. The same host will deliver the meal to floors at certain times.
At Galichia, which is owned by Wesley's parent company, Hospital Corporation of America, the meals will be more like hotel room service, Voloch said.
Because the Galichia campus is much smaller, patients will be able to place their meal orders using their bedside phone. The meals will be delivered 30 to 45 minutes later. Patients will be able to order whenever the kitchen is open.
Voloch said Wesley will consider that style of service for Wesley in the future, but it would be difficult because of Wesley's size -- more than 1.2 million square feet.
The food at both sites will include more fresh and less frozen food, Hanson said.
Doctors, nurses and hospital administrators taste-tested the new menu, Voloch said.
Wesley patients on special diets will see limited options on the electronic menu.
"The computer system has their diet restrictions in there, and it interfaces with hospital records, taking things out that they can't have," Hanson said.
Voloch says the hospital hopes the new service will improve patient satisfaction surveys. The surveys have become increasingly important to hospitals because they are now factored into the formulas Medicare uses for reimbursements to providers.
"Food is one of the few things patients can control while they're here, so giving them a choice in what to order on the menu is a big upgrade," Voloch said.
"We just want them to not think of us as 'hospital food' anymore," Hanson said.
The hospital will offer a kids menu in the pediatrics department.
Wesley awarded a new food-services contract to Sodexo in August, Voloch said. It previously used Aramark for food services. The new contract is for three years.
Voloch said the hospital's parent company has a longstanding relationship with Sodexo in other markets.
Sodexo is a French company that operates in 80 countries. In the U.S., the company has revenue of $8.8 billion and 125,000 employees.
Via Christi hospitals also offers room service for patients.
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