Recognizing that healthful, enjoyable eating plays an integral role in wellness and healing, and that patients have different tastes and nutrition needs, Phelps has adopted a new on-demand meal delivery model for patients.
Instead of receiving three meals at set times during the day, patients at Phelps can now call the Room Service Call Center anytime between 6:30 am and 6:30 pm to order from a comprehensive new menu and expect their freshly prepared meal to be delivered within 45 minutes. Studies have shown that when patients are able to have their meals when they want them, it significantly improves their hospital experience.
The Room Service menu is extensive. For breakfast – which can be ordered at any time of the day – choices include pancakes, omelets, breakfast burritos and fresh fruit. There’s something for everyone on the lunch and dinner menu – from roasted turkey or stir-fried tofu to burgers or beans and rice. A wide variety of vegetables, salads, sandwiches and soups are available as well, and special menu items are offered for patients who follow a gluten-free or kosher diet.
Phelps’ Room Service is based on the hotel concept, with one key difference: Call Center Associates not only assist patients with selections, but also ensure that the order is in line with the patient’s diet. Both Call Center Associates and the Hospitality staff, who deliver the meals, received extensive training in ways to fulfill patient requests without exceeding their dietary limitations. Patients appreciate the service provided by Hospitality staff, who help ensure that mealtime is a pleasant experience.
According to Richard Schmidt, Director of Food, Nutrition and Hospitality Services, another important benefit of the new program is that there is significantly less food wasted. “Patients used to order their meals the day before, but it’s hard to know a day in advance how hungry you’ll be or what you’ll feel like eating,“ says Schmidt. “Now that patients are ordering what they want and getting it when they want it, much less food is left uneaten.”
To implement the new program, Phelps spent more than $500,000 to redesign its kitchen, which underwent major renovations last summer. The kitchen was converted from a traditional 1950s hospital tray line to a modern, state-of-the-art restaurant-style kitchen, where at any given moment a row of chefs and cooks are preparing fresh plates of food.
This “on-demand” dining differentiates Phelps from other hospitals in Westchester. “Our meal program is unique in that when patients call to place their order, the food is freshly prepared and delivered when it’s ready, rather than at a set time. “We are even able to accommodate patients who require insulin,” says Schmidt. “We are getting a lot of positive feedback from patients who like being able to eat when they are hungry.”
One such happy patient, Altagracia Saiz, found the food to be delicious. “The menu is excellent. I order breakfast at 7:30 and it arrives by 8 o’clock,” said Ms. Saiz. “The Hospitality staff who bring the food are wonderful!”