A family’s request for at-home meal support for a patient at Lee Memorial in Fort Myers, Fla., led System Director of Food & Nutrition Services Larry Altier to uncover a gap in care. He saw that only 1% of patients had been coded (diagnosed and labeled for billing purposes) as malnourished, while more than 60% of all Lee Memorial patients are over 65 years or older, a population that experiences the issue at a higher rate.
His discovery helped more rigorously identify malnutrition, but it also strengthened Lee Memorial’s community connection. The hospital launched a delivery program—Flavor Harvest Delivers—that drops off meals, snacks and oral supplements.
Lee Memorial found two private grants to help fund the program, and the hospital underwrites the balance with the expectation that the program reduces re-admission. Communication across departments is key before launching such an idea, Altier says. “Medical staff are very knowledgeable about clinical care, but they aren’t necessarily focused on the clinical indicators for malnourishment,” he says.