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Maria Fernandez, a patient of the Dana-Farber/Brigham and Women’s Cancer Center, put in her lunch order for fresh fruit, salad and yogurt on Tuesday around noon. In less than 30 minutes, Pierre Adelson of Food Services delivered it to her bedside on Tower 5B with a smile.
Speedy delivery, customizable meal options and the ability for patients to order when they want are features of the new room service model now available to cancer patients and patients in the Medical Intensive Care Unit and Tower 4B beginning this week.
“The room service model is more patient-friendly,” said Karen Purdy-Reilly, director of Food Services. “Enabling patients to order what they want when they want usually allows them to eat more food.”
That’s especially important for oncology patients, who often experience nausea, loss of appetite and changes in taste.
Food Services rolled out room service to the Connors Center in 2004, and to Tower 14, 15 and 16 last year. Since introducing room service, patient satisfaction scores on these floors have jumped to the 90th percentile on Press Ganey inpatient satisfaction surveys. Food Services aims to make room service available to all inpatient units by March, including the Shapiro Cardiovascular Center when it opens.
“This gives our patients the flexibility to order when they want to eat,” Purdy-Reilly said. “If they’d rather have several small meals throughout the day instead of larger meals at breakfast, lunch and dinner, we can accommodate them.”
Patients can order from a house menu or menus specific to dietary needs, such as a carbohydrate-controlled menu or a heart-healthy menu. “We’ve just added more salad selections, fresh fruit and whole grain options to the house menu,” said Purdy-Reilly, noting that dietitians and diet technicians will still advise patients on nutritious choices and work closely with patients to find selections for modified diets.
When a patient calls for room service, staff in Food Services spring into action behind the scenes to deliver the order on time. Staff receive the calls in a call center and send the order electronically to the appropriate kitchen. “A ticket prints right in the kitchen, and we start assembling the tray,” Purdy-Reilly said. “The cook receives just the hot items requested and begins preparing those.”
A copy of the ticket, which includes the time of the call, is kept in Food Services, and another copy is placed on the tray and delivered to the patient. “Our goal is to deliver within 45 minutes of the order,” Purdy-Reilly said. “Patients are impressed with the overall service.”
In order to support the room service model, Food Services has renovated its kitchens on Tower 16 and CWN 7. In addition, the L2 kitchen is undergoing major construction and is in the fourth phase of an eight-phase project. Completion of all construction is expected by April.