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Kansas hospital revamps food service to offer room service, healthier options

By Healthcare Facilities Today
October 23, 2013

The Lawrence Memorial Hospital will have a new room service meal option for patients by mid-2014, according to an article on the Lawrence Journal-World website.

Patients will no longer have to fill out their menus a day in advance and wait for the appointed time to have their meals delivered, the article said. Hospital staffers are working to create a system in which patients will be able to order a meal off of a restaurant-like menu and have it delivered within 30 minutes.

Hospital executives are hoping the meals will be healthier and tastier, too. the article said. The room service program is part of a complete revamping of the food and beverage division that includes outsourcing food preparation to Unidine Corp.

The food preparation will continue to occur in the kitchens of LMH, but now under the direction of Unidine officials instead of LMH employees. Unidine will bring in its own director and a chef, but the rest of the LMH food service staff, about 35 full-time equivalent positions, will be leaving LMH's employment and will transfer over to Unidine.

"We're making this change because we really want to do something to demonstrate our commitment to fresh, healthy food," said Karen Shumate, the hospital's chief operating officer.

Shumate said in the article that sales at the cafeteria are up almost 30 percent in recent weeks. Hospital officials also are finding that many of the fresh products being bought by the kitchen actually are less expensive than the prepared products previously purchased, according to the article, Between the lower cost of food and the increased sales, Shumate projects that the hospital will save about $300,000 in food and beverage costs.

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