HaysMed serves up new menu



Hays Medical Center is serving something new.

A made-to-order room service dining program was implemented Feb. 24 for the hospital's inpatients. The system allows patients to order what they want when they want it, said Karla Kenton, food service manager and a registered dietitian.

"Patients have a menu in their room, and they can say, 'I'm hungry for this.' We send it up within 45 minutes of their call," Kenton said. "The right word is patient-focused."

The service is available from 6:45 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. A call center has been added to the food service line. Patients can call from their rooms or caregivers can call on their behalf from outside the hospital to place an order.

The made-to-order service is available for patients and their visitors.

When an order is placed, call center staff examine patient records to ensure dietary restrictions are followed. The menu lists the number of carbs in each item and indicates heart-healthy options.

"Before, we never really had that interaction with the patients, so we are able to educate them sooner and able to steer them to the right menu selections based on their restricted diet," Kenton said. "It makes the process happen more quickly."

HaysMed worked with a consulting company to create a healthful menu with as many options as possible, Kenton said. Breakfast is served all day, and lunch or dinner options range from sandwiches to pizza to entrees such as crumb-crusted cod or pot roast.

A total of five full-time employees have been added to the food service staff. A team of hosts and hostesses now brings the trays to patient rooms.

Previously, patients were offered three meals at set times, and the menu was set for each day. If a patient missed a meal due to medical care, his or her tray was kept for later.

Now, nothing is saved for later, she said.

"The patients have been thrilled," Kenton said. "The quality of the food is just so different, because it's made-to-order."

Patients also seem to appreciate the flexible schedule, she said, noting some patients prefer to sleep in rather than having to wake up for an early breakfast.

The program also has reduced food waste, likely because patients only are ordering the items they want, she said.

"I think the patients are really enjoying it," said Sarah Weigel, a service assistant in food services.