Changes to Food Programs Could Outlast COVID-19

Atlanta hospital has eliminated self-serve stations, room service-style patient menus, and cash

January 28, 2021

The coronavirus pandemic has altered the food service landscape. Under pressure to adapt to the demands of COVID-19, many healthcare organizations have pivoted with food service in response to the new environment.

Atlanta’s Piedmont Hospital is no exception to the upheaval, according to Food Management. The hospital has eliminated self-serve stations, room service-style patient menus, and cash. Those changes are likely to outlast COVID-19, says Mark Galvin, director of nutrition services for the 650-bed hospital.

Galvin says the changes have streamlined operations, complied with efforts to contain virus exposure and helped him grapple with a budget hit hard by the elimination of visitor traffic.

One major shift for the hospital was eliminating a restaurant-style menu for patients in favor of standardized meals. The program still accommodates special diets, and patients who aren’t on board with daily set meals can use the “always available” menu. But limited meal choices have allowed the hospital to do more with a leaner staff and inventory.

COVID-19 has also changed the delivery process. For COVID-19-infected patients in isolation, the nutrition services team delivers food in disposable, microwaveable containers, which nurses then deliver, after heating them in microwave ovens — a new fixture on patient floors. Galvin says the equipment investment was worth it to ensure patient satisfaction.

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