Sutter Delta Now Offers Hotel Like ‘Room Service’ to Patients

Posted on Dec 4, 2012

breakfast tray being served to a woman sitting in the backgroundSimilar to picking up a phone and calling hotel room service for the meal you selected, patients admitted to Sutter Delta Medical Center are experiencing a new room service option for their meals.

Sutter Delta’s recently launched “Catering To You” (CTY) hospital in-room meal delivery program is aimed at providing inpatients with better nourishment based on the premise that patients tend to eat better when they can select their own meals.

Food is essential for patients to heal

“Food is what helps heal the body,” says Bob Harrison, dietary manager. “If the food is more appetizing to the patient, the patient will eat it, which will encourage and help the healing process.”

The CTY Program differs from the previous hospital food programs. The older method had all patients’ meals prepared at the same time on a traditional standard tray, then delivered to the floors where they were handed out by nurses, aides or volunteers. With this hospital room service program, dietary staff will visit patients in their rooms and personally take their orders for various meal choices in accordance with their attending physicians’ dietary instructions.

“Now instead of simply dropping off the food cart to the unit, staff personally deliver the trays to the patient in their rooms,” said dietitian Onna Lee. “After delivering a meal to the patient, staff will periodically check to ensure each patient’s comfort and satisfaction with their meal choice.”

Hospital room service program increases patient satisfaction

The CTY Program also promotes efficiency and good customer service, because dietary staff are now visiting each patient’s room and taking their meal choice. Prior to the CTY Program, interaction between dietary staff and patients was nearly nonexistent.

Because dietary staff take the patient’s order and then revisit them after they receive their meals, staff can ensure that the patient’s meal orders–as well as any special dietary restrictions or requests–have been accommodated almost immediately, as opposed to waiting an indefinite amount of time for a staff member to be alerted.

“Prior to this program, our staff never had any contact with the patients,” added Bob. “Now, our staff will have contact with them all day, and hopefully with more interaction, both patients and staff can feel valued and appreciated. Overall, it’s a win-win!”

And Sutter Delta has already seen results in recent patient surveys

“We have seen our patient satisfaction surveys that ask patients specifically about their hospital meals increase by several percentage points,” adds Bob. “In many of the surveys, patients also noted their satisfaction simply because they were visited personally by our staff. We also started receiving comments about two of our hostesses, who ended up winning Sutter Delta’s Employee of the Month Award. All of that helped to double our patient satisfaction scores.”

Employees embrace the hospital room service program

Staff  underwent four months of training to learn the various patient diets and customer service skills needed to execute the hospital room service program. Sutter Delta launched a “soft” start by running a CTY trial program last year with selected staff, who were able to help iron out any of the kinks that needed to be adjusted before the bigger launch in 2012.

While the program certainly required all staff to go through a transition period to get familiar with the new program, many dietary workers are already deeming CTY a success.

“I enjoy it,” exclaimed Gloria Quintana. “It feels as if the patients are mine! I’m putting YOUR tray together. It’s true ownership.”

Co-worker Maria Rios added, “I think it is good for the patients because it helps us know what the patient’s likes and dislikes are, and if they prefer heavy or small portions or if they need extra sugar with their meal.”

The new program certainly allows Sutter Delta to achieve the hospital’s overall goal of creating a patient-centered, healing environment that adds a personal touch or experience for each patient treated at the hospital.

If you would like to learn more about Sutter Delta’s Catering To You Program, please contact Angela Lombardi, communications manager at 925-303-6104 or Lombaa2@sutterhealth.org.

*Sean Tongson, 2011 Employee of the Year and member of the Service Excellence Team, was a content contributor to this article.

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