Kansas promotes healthier hospitals

Published in Healthcare Spotlight

TOPEKA, Kan.—The Kansas Hospital Education & Research Foundation (KHERF), an arm of the Kansas Hospital Association (KHA), has convinced 54 of KHA’s 128 hospital members to examine their food and beverage services with a goal of making their programs healthier. Armed with a $150,000 grant from the Kansas Health Foundation (KHF) it received last year, KHERF launched a grassroots effort to urge hospitals to commit to healthier environments for patients, employees and visitors.

“The KHF is interested in improving the health of Kansas communities as a whole,” says Josh Mosier, project director for Healthy Kansas Hospitals, the name of KHA’s initiative. “With the number of hospitals in the state that are members of the association, we’re able to cast a pretty wide net over the communities that are impacted by the association. The feeling is that hospitals set community norms regarding healthy behaviors and food and beverage practices, and those norms trickle down to the communities themselves.”

Mosier began his efforts last fall at KHA’s annual convention and trade show. “I spoke with hospital CEOs about the initiative and why it is important to them,” he explains. “I told them it allows them to live their mission to not only treat but prevent chronic disease, and that it just made sense for them to do this.”

Mosier cautions that the project is voluntary. “It was very important to us to communicate to members that this is not a mandate,” he says. “This is participatory, and if they want to make changes we’re here to help them.”

One of the ways KHA hopes to help is through a tool kit currently being developed. Mosier says the kit, which he hopes to be ready by Oct. 1, will provide the educational resources to accompany any changes.

“If you don’t educate, the behaviors won’t change,” he explains. “We are interested in patient health and visitor health, but we realize that the repeat customers in the cafeteria or at the vending machines are, most of the time, going to be hospital employees. We need to educate them.”

However, Mosier adds that what happens in hospital cafeterias can have an immediate impact on the surrounding communities.

“A lot of hospitals in smaller communities have residents who come to the hospitals just to eat lunch,” he says. “So by making healthier options available to them, they can lead residents to a healthier diet.”

Along with the tool kit, the KHA also will stage webinars on various nutrition topics four times a year, available to any hospital that has signed onto the initiative.

Even though the KHA is only asking hospitals to review their foodservice programs, Mosier says they are getting reports from hospitals that have already made changes to their programs.

One of those is Hutchinson Regional Medical Center. “During the past year, our dietary staff has completed a top-to-bottom audit of all food and drink options and made significant changes to the services we provide, to ensure that our patients, their families and our employees are consuming healthy and nutritious food,” Hutchinson’s CEO Kevin Miller told the KHA. “As the region’s flagship healthcare provider, we have an inherent obligation to practice what we preach by providing the healthiest dining options.”

More From FoodService Director

Ideas and Innovation
ucmc model

With a budget and timeline in place, and the support of the university behind them, the foodservice team at the University of Chicago Medical Center was ready to get rolling with the renovation of one of its patient services kitchens. The facility, which services the hospital’s Center for Care and Discovery and Comer Children’s Hospital, was tripling in size to serve two additional patient floors, to the tune of $9 million. But that didn’t mean immediately jumping in with steel and screws.

“First, we cut out scaled pieces of paper and moved things around,” says Elizabeth Lockwood,...

Managing Your Business
pizza toppings

When the FoodService Director editors first started tossing around the idea of an “influencers” issue, our minds immediately turned to, well, foodservice directors. After all, so much of the learning in this industry is a peer-to-peer experience, and it’s your influence that inspires the content in every single issue of this magazine.

Then we imagined the massive infighting that would occur if we tried to whittle ourselves down to a list of just 20 influential operators and thought better of it. There’s already enough arguing for us to do about which pizza toppings are best (...

Ideas and Innovation
granola bars

Where possible, we make grab-and-go items reimbursable. For example, if we’re serving a fruit and milk smoothie, we let students take a granola bar or other grain component to make it count as a meal.

Ideas and Innovation
unsung heroes graphic

Febin Bellamy, a senior at Georgetown University, is the founder of Unsung Heroes, a nonprofit that features service workers on college campuses in man-on-the-street-style Facebook interviews. This year, Bellamy is working with a dozen schools to launch their own chapters of the storytelling platform. Here’s what he’s learned about staff shoutouts.

Q: Why did you decide to start Unsung Heroes?

A: One day I started a conversation with a custodial worker in the business school that I would see all the time. I learned that we had a lot of similarities; for instance, we both wanted to...

FSD Resources