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Phelps Offers Patients Hotel-Style Food Service
(February 4, 2014) Have you ever been in a hospital and wished you could eat what you wanted, when you wanted it? Say hello to “Room Service,” the new on-demand meal delivery service for patients at Phelps Memorial Hospital Center. In addition to training staff to implement the new program, the hospital spent more than half a million dollars on a redesign of its kitchen, which underwent major renovations last summer. The kitchen was converted from a traditional hospital 1950’s tray line to a modern state-of-the-art restaurant-style kitchen.
Instead of receiving three meals at set times during the day, patients at Phelps can now contact the Room Service Call Center anytime between the hours of 6:30 am and 6:30 pm, order from a new restaurant-style menu and have their meal delivered within the hour. Studies have shown that when patients can order their meals when they want them, it contributes greatly to their hospital experience.
The meal delivery service is based on the hotel concept of room service, but with one key difference: Call Center Associates, who answer the phones, not only assist patients with selections, but also ensure that the order is appropriate to the patient’s diet. Both Call Center Associates and Phelps Hospitality staff, who deliver the meals, have received extensive training on ways to fulfill patient requests while making sure their dietary needs are being met.
“Our meal program is unique in Westchester in that when patients call to place their order, the food is prepared and delivered when it’s ready, rather than at a set time,” says Rich Schmidt, Director of Food, Nutrition and Hospitality Services at Phelps. “We are getting a lot of positive fe edback from patients, who like being able to choose from a menu and eat when they are hungry.
Altagracia Saiz, of White Plains, was a patient at Phelps recently and found the food to be delicious. “The menu is excellent. I order breakfast at 7:30 and it arrives by 8 o’clock,” said Ms. Saiz. “The Hospitality staff who bring the food are wonderful.”
Kathleen Duffy, of Pleasantville, was a patient on the first day that Room Service began. She praised the Call Center staff who helped her choose foods that met her dietary restrictions.
Craig Crocitto, of Thornwood, enjoyed the many choices. “The selections are great,” he said. “There is something for everyone.”
Schmidt says that another big benefit of the program is that there is much less waste of food, already down by 25% at Phelps. “When you order several meals in advance, it’s hard to know what or how much you’ll want to eat the next day, or even later that day. Patients are ordering what they want and getting it when they want it, so much less food is coming back uneaten,” says Schmidt.
Under the new food service system at Phelps, even diabetics can order when they want. Call Center staff talk to them about substitutions if their requests are inappropriate, and their trays are flagged with a medical alert, so nurses have to approve the delivery of the meal. “We even try to give choice to patients who are unable to communicate what they would like to eat by involving their loved ones in making choices for them,” says Schmidt.