Virginia’s Fauquier Hospital has been making headlines for the past few years. Planetree, a non-profit organization that aids hospitals in providing patient-centered care has recognized the institution for its efforts in providing care for patients by putting them first. In 2010, Fauquier was one of five hospitals to receive the Planetree designation. Among Planetree’s list of designation criteria is a focus on the nutritional and nurturing effects of food. Fauquier’s hospital food services stood out with its approach to ingredients, service and food.
Adopting an innovative approach
Fauquier’s kitchen operates a restaurant, Bistro on the Hill, rather than a cafeteria. Meals are made to order with ingredients that come from the institution’s own garden and nearby farms. Additionally, no orders are taken by phone. Instead, diners and patients alike place their order with a member of kitchen staff. Fauquier’s director of nutrition services, Zach Erickson is aware of the benefits of having face-to-face interaction with patients, believing that his staff are a highlight of patients’ days and have the ability to provide further assistance.
“You get so many more cues about that patient that you wouldn’t have picked up on the phone,” said Erickson. “You’ll find out that they’re having trouble with an arm, or they’ve having trouble physically that’s going to make whatever they’re ordering difficult and at that point you’re going to make suggestions to better improve their experience.”
Taking it further
Bistro on the Hill’s services cater not only to patients and their families, but also to community members. Twice a week, the restaurant offers healthy affordable meals for seniors. The Senior Supper Club caters to citizens aged 55 and above. Sometimes, there’s even a piano player who provides entertainment for diners.
Fauquier Hospital’s kitchen played a large role in the institution’s Planetree designation. Planetree’s recognition of the importance of hospital food services shows hospital kitchens have a huge impact on patient health and satisfaction with their fare and staff.
Hospitals that are reevaluating their kitchens should consider the methods used by Fauquier’s Bistro on the Hill. Start with small steps such as adjusting ingredients, then progress to greater services by providing staff interaction with patients and making greater strides and increase community outreach. Health care institutions have the ability to better the lives of patients and members of the community as well. Creating a plan to improve the effects of hospital food services may very well increase patient and community satisfaction.