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Northern Westchester Hospital Helps Patients ‘Care’ About Nutrition

MOUNT KISCO, N.Y. — When patients enter the care of the Northern Westchester Hospital, thoughts might wander away from basic necessities and focus on the task at hand—getting better. But the hospital has now taken a more holistic approach towards improving the patient, as it has implemented the “Food is Care” program, insisting that a meal is more than what you think of only when you’re hungry.

The program, installed on Jan. 23, takes into account the basic needs of a patient regarding their nutrition and dietary needs, allowing for the staff to wait on a patient like a hotel would. Starting with a menu made of Revlar that is wipeable and tear-proof, the patient orders from the calling number written on his or her menu with the help from a Patient Care Associate.

“The Patient Care Associate (PCA) acts as the patient’s food advocate,” said Maria Hale, vice president of patient advocacy.

Once the PCA has given its input and information, the call made by the patient is picked up by a call center that is filled with Nutrition Associates. Once the call is picked up, the computer the associate works at immediately brings up the patient’s information as it is correlated with the room number. After the nurse approves the order, it is sent to the printing station where orders are made out like in a regular restaurant.

“Everything is designed to be made in six-to-seven minutes and it comes together phenomenally,” said executive chef Patrick Wilson.

After giving the food the proper make-to-order treatment, it is sent down an assembly line to make sure it is all in proper order for the patient. The food is then placed into a carrier with other orders of the same floor, and is then sent up to the room. The end of the production offers as the unofficial beginning, though, as the PCA re-enters to bring the patient the food and explains why they are so important.

“The beauty of it is when we can educate about new foods they haven’t had exposure to, foods best for diet and their condition,” Hale said. “When they’re with us for three to five days, their discussions and interactions with the team help better prepare them when they leave the hospital. The ultimate goal is to be not only serve wholesome, tasty, and nutritious food, but it also serves as an educational experience.”

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