Campus News

December 7, 2011

Room service improves patient dining

Room service host Exavian Franklin takes meal orders by computer if patients are unable to call in their order.

Dining while hospitalized at Emory University Hospital Midtown is now more convenient for patients. The hospital is offering room service for patient dining throughout the day.

The room service model has shown that patients tend to eat better in the hospital when they select their own meals right before eating, depending on how they feel. It also allows for fresher food that is made to order. Orders are taken from 6:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. and are delivered within 45 minutes.

"The room service concept allows patients and their care teams to have more control over when meals are served," says Lynne Ometer, director of Food & Nutrition Services for Emory’s four intown hospitals. "It gives patients the opportunity to time their meals similar to when they eat at home, which helps keep their medications on schedule. Patients can also schedule their meals around different tests and procedures, without missing meals or eating cold food when they return to their room."

Patients order from a restaurant-style menu, based on their dietary modifications, and then place their orders by phone before each meal. If patients are not able to make the calls, food service hosts and hostesses will visit the patient’s room and place their order by computer. Hosts and hostesses will then deliver the meals to the patient’s room when the order is ready in the kitchen.

The new dining project, costing $1.5 million, includes kitchen renovations and technology to support the meal program. Fourteen additional full-time equivalent employees have been hired to implement the room service model at the hospital. They will assist with meal ordering, food preparation, meal delivery and tray pick-up.

"When we made the decision to move to a new meal delivery system, we chose room service for inpatient dining for many reasons," says Dane Peterson, chief operating officer at Emory University Hospital Midtown. "While the model costs more for renovations, equipment and additional staff, costs are offset by reducing food waste and food-related supplies. Patients are able to order what they want to eat, when they want to eat it. This leads to a higher level of patient satisfaction -- a benefit to the patients, their families and their care teams."

With the new room service model, Food & Nutrition Services will prepare more than 300 meals during any given mealtime throughout the day.

"This new meal delivery system is one more effort in supporting Emory Healthcare’s Care Transformation initiative, where the focus is truly on patient-and family-centered care," says Ometer. "It is a win-win situation for everyone."

Room service has been tested and implemented on the Mother/Baby floors at Emory University Hospital Midtown for more than three years, with positive results. Emory University Orthopaedics & Spine Hospital has been offering room service to its inpatients since it opened in 2008. Emory University Hospital will transition to room service over the next year or so.

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