Veteran-Centered Care

New cart delivery system improves patient satisfaction scores.

JACKSON, Miss.—Patient meal service at the GV Montgomery VA Medical Center was changed last spring to increase patient satisfaction. Instead of a traditional trayline delivery system, a new veteran-centered care program brings meals to the floor on carts, allowing patients to select from three daily entrée options.

Tricia Mathias, R.D., chief of nutrition and food services, says the new cart program allows veterans greater control and flexibility with their meals.

“We’re trying to create a culture of veteran-centered care by allowing veterans to select foods and try to get them to directly participate in their healthcare,” Mathias says. “When you’re in a hospital you don’t have very much control. Doctors and nurses decide what’s going on. This is an effort to give them more control and to offer them choices.”

Meals now are delivered using hostess carts, and residents now have a selection of options. There are two entrée choices, as well as a sandwich at lunch and dinner. There are also options for beverages, vegetables, salads and desserts.

“The carts allow us to bring the food up to the wards, so the patients can smell the food,” Mathias says. “It’s fresh and hot and the meals can be individualized. Our foodservice workers go into the room right at mealtime and ask the veterans what choice they want. It’s good because then the foodservice worker can interact with the veteran. We have all the condiments and extra things on the cart. So if the veteran wants two milks or three sugars then we can provide it right there. We stay on the ward a longer time than before. Before we were just delivering the tray and going. If there is something else that they need or they don’t like what they got, we’re still up on the ward. We’re available to the nursing staff. It gives us more time to interact with the veteran and provide better customer service.”

Mathias says that some of the residents’ choices were surprising. “We were usually serving milk and tea. Then almost everyone wanted lemonade,” she says. “The desserts were another one. I thought everyone would want cakes and pies, but ice cream was what everybody wanted. I also thought a lot of veterans would want soup and a sandwich, but they didn’t want that at all. They want the hot meal.”

One of the big selling points of the new cart program was it did not increase FTEs.

“Before we had a trayline and we had to have a certain number of employees on a trayline and then additional staff to deliver the trays. This way it’s the same number of staff, but they just stay on the unit rather than having to stay in the kitchen. A lot of the employees who really weren’t getting that much time with the veterans are able to.”

Mathias says the reaction to the program has been positive. Veterans love the interaction with the foodservice workers, she says, and satisfaction scores have improved. “Another positive asset, something the dietitians like to see, is the consumption of food has improved. I think it’s mainly because veterans are getting things that they want and so they are eating more of the food that they are being given.” 

More From FoodService Director

Menu Development
sauces

Adding an entirely new cuisine to the menu can feel daunting. But what if you could dabble in international flavors simply by introducing a few new condiments? For inspiration, FSD talked to operators who are offering a range of condiments plucked from global regional cuisines.

“Most ethnic cuisines have some sort of sauce or condiment relishes that go with their dishes,” says Roy Sullivan, executive chef with Nutrition & Food Services at UCSF Medical Center in San Francisco. Condiments offered to diners at UCSF Medical include chimichurri (Argentina), curry (India), tzatziki (...

Ideas and Innovation
turnip juice brine

Give leftover brine new life by adding it to vegetables. In an interview with Food52, Stuart Brioza, chef and owner of State Bird Provisions in San Francisco, says that he adds a splash of leftover brine while sauteeing mushrooms to increase their flavor profile. “We like to ferment turnips at the restaurant, and it’s a great way to use that brine—though dill pickle brine would work just as well,” he says.

Menu Development
side dishes

Operators looking to increase sales of side dishes may want to focus on freshness and value. Here’s what attributes consumers say are important when picking sides.

Fresh - 73% Offered at a fair price - 72% Satisfies a craving - 64% Premium ingredients - 56% Natural ingredients - 49% Signature side - 47% Something familiar - 46% Housemade/made from scratch - 44% Something new/unique - 42% Large portion size - 42% Healthfulness - 40% Family-size - 40%

Source: Technomic’s 2017 Starters, Small Plates and Sides Consumer Trend Report , powered by Ignite

Ideas and Innovation
earth

When putting together our surveys, FoodService Director’s editors tend to ask operators about big trends that we’re seeing throughout the industry. For the November "Besties" issue , we asked readers to share the best ways they’re menuing things like plant-based dishes, trending international cuisines and creative DIY options.

Great responses flooded in from across the country, and it was tough to narrow down which would make it into the cover story. A few even came in after the piece was finished. Laura Thompson, resident district manager for Aramark at James Madison University,...

FSD Resources