Overland Park, KS

If you’re looking for pudding in a cup at Menorah Medical Center, you’re out of luck. And the same goes for lumpy mashed potatoes, canned fruit and other hospital food of yore.

Thanks to Dining On Call, the hospital’s innovative food choice and delivery program, patients customize their meals from many different options, all of which have been vetted by dieticians to meet specific nutritional needs. They also get to order it when they want, rather than having to wait for a set delivery time, said Steve Achord, Food and Nutrition Services Director.

“The patients really like having that control,” Achord said. “It really is more like ordering room service; it has that personal touch. We give them more choices, true alternatives, at every meal.”

Dining On Call works using a 12-hour window for ordering, so patients who have tests coming up, or who might want to eat with family, can move their mealtimes up or back during that period. It gives them control in a situation where others are dictating much of their routine, Achord said.

“We’ve put dining back into the patient’s hands,” he said. “They call and speak to an operator, who has software displaying the diet plan for each patient. That allows the operator to filter out restricted items and assist patients with appropriate meal choices. We’ve created menus broad enough to give people abundant choices, even if they are on the most restricted diet.”

Menus delivered to patients also have markings for heart-healthy items, as well as carb counts, so the patient may pick and choose based on that information as well.
“We’ve refined the way the program works, and are always making it better, faster and more efficient,” Achord said. “People still think hospital food is bland and not good. We’re changing that perception thanks to the work of our executive chef and entire dietary staff. We’ve got a good program that allows people to have choice, and their choices are all high-quality dishes.”