Health care professionals understand the role proper nutrition plays in maintaining a healthy lifestyle. When patients enter the hospital, nutrition plays an even greater role in helping patients heal from surgery or recover from illness or injury. Current research suggests that one in every three patients admitted suffers from some form of malnutrition, and roughly two-thirds of these patients will go on to have a declining nutritional status after admission. Malnutrition can develop in hospital patients as a result of changes in nutritional needs, or poor absorption of key nutrients due to disease. When malnutrition goes undetected and untreated, patients are at additional risk for longer hospital stays, deteriorating musculature, higher rates of infection, more frequent readmissions and higher long-term health care costs.
In addition to protecting patients from malnutrition to promote wellness and healing, hospitals are also endowed with the responsibility to promote healthy habits in an effort to fight obesity and chronic disease in the community. Traditionally, hospital menus have been known to be bland, tasteless food, meats and vegetables that have been cooked until they are colorless and tasteless, served at poor temperatures causing the integrity of the food to be lost. For years, it has been widely held that fresh, locally-grown food is too costly to be sustainable by the average hospital food system. Today, hospitals have been challenging the notion that healthier food is costlier to prepare and serve than the typical foodservice fare.
By purchasing fruits and vegetables from local produce growers or growing their own garden hospitals improve the quality of their menus by offering patients an increased variety of perfectly ripe, in-season food. Buying local saves on food-related shipping costs and promotes the success of local producers, thereby improving community access to nutrient-rich food. At its West Bloomfield campus, Henry Ford Hospital has been incorporating fresh, local produce a priority by establishing an organic greenhouse and education center. Under the guidance of an on-site gardener, the facility serves inviting, healthful meals and supports community wellness through gardening and cooking classes for all ages. The greenhouse produces 15,000 heads of lettuce and over 1,000 pounds of organic fruits and vegetables annually, with the added benefit of controlling food costs while dramatically increasing patient satisfaction and improving patient outcomes.
In addition to purchasing supplies differently, hospitals are turning to technology to offer more improved meal experiences to patients. By automating dietary offices to support room service style meal delivery systems, hospitals produce food in smaller batches when it is ordered, preserving taste, appearance, and vital nutrients. Menu checking software ensures that hospital menu choices meet guidelines for quality and safety while exceeding patient expectations, resulting in better patient outcomes and reduced food costs and waste. Vision Software is committed to providing innovative software solutions that empower your hospitality staff to deliver fresher, safer, more nutritious meals to your patients with more personal service and greater cost control. Call 629.777.8989 today to find out how automation of your dietary office can assist your institution in protecting and improving the nutritional well-being of patients, and all who are use the hospital food service program.