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  November 3, 2003

Dempsey Hospital Offers
Patients Expanded Menu

Patients at John Dempsey Hospital now have extensive choices for dinner - and lunch, and breakfast. Gone are the days of checking off one of two meal options. Now patients talk directly to a specialist - known as a diet technician - and place their orders by phone, using a menu with dozens of choices that range from hot entrees to pastas, grilled items, and even personal pizzas.

Service is available from 6:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m., and orders are delivered within 45 minutes.

The new approach is part of the hospital's ongoing efforts to improve services to patients.

Hospital patient Barbara Chick of Columbia says the food's been "pretty good." She likes the range of choices on the menu, and not having to order the day before. "You don't always know what you'll feel like eating the next day," she says.

The menu includes classic dinner dishes, such as turkey, but also features more sophisticated dishes, like lemon ginger vegetable stir fry. And if a patient wants breakfast for dinner, that's OK too.

But that doesn't mean anything goes, says Chinmayee Patel, food and nutrition patient service manager. "A cardiac patient ordering French fries and a cheeseburger will be offered something else," she quips.

"Diet technicians follow up to see you got what you wanted," says Chick. "But they're watching out for you too, making sure you don't order anything you're not supposed to."

Miriam Medina, assistant nurse manager on the hospital's medical floor, says patients seem to like the new system. As with any change, the hospital is still working out the glitches, she says, but it's going to be a big plus for patients.

"We're always looking for ways to make a patient's stay at JDH as pleasant as possible," says Rachel Fein, also a food and nutrition patient service manager. "There's a saying that 'the way to a man's heart is his stomach.' We think that can apply to hospital patients as well."