Recently I found myself admitted to North Adams Regional Hospital for a (thankfully) uneventful overnight stay. There was one interesting aspect of my time there that caught me off guard. After my nurse helped me find the requisite pajamas and showed me how to control the bed and TV, she handed me a menu - An honest-to-pete a la carte menu with a pretty reasonable selection of mainstream items and side dishes.
Within a few minutes a pleasant woman from "Room Service" called to take my order and ask when I would like my meal delivered.
I was shocked.
Not only did the food show up when promised, but it was of a solid quality. The fruit was fresh cut as were most of the salad fixings. Gone were the syrupy fruit cocktails with the peel back foil lids. My fish had obviously been recently cooked rather than sitting in a steamy hot box with 500 other meals for the previous hour or two. My expectations were, frankly, blown away by four separate decent meals, each of my choosing.
When I asked about the cost, I was told that this program actually saves NARH money by eliminating all the waste of the unwanted food that found its way onto the ubiquitous food-cart trays and then into the dumpster. Lower overall medical costs through better food. What a concept!
A hospital is just about the last place I expect to be impressed by way I am fed. Don't get me wrong. It's not the Ritz. But when you're wearing an ugly blue johnny tied in the back and you have a gangling IV sticking out of your arm, nice surprises are especially welcome.
Now if only the airlines could figure out how to let passengers order edible food. That'll be the day....
Greg Roach is the Chef and Prepared Foods Manager at the Wild Oats Market in Williamstown. He periodically blogs about food for iBerkshires and writes about all sort of other things at Greg Roach's Berkshires Blog.
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Yes, it's nice to be able to order your food when you would like it, but I was kind of turned off by the housekeeper that just picked up my trash and cleaned my toilet was serving my meal. Those should be two different ententies. It's not their fault there just doing what they're told. Good job to the cooks and servers.
Prep people & cooks & servers = success story.
That being said, these are the same people that the hospital was ready to "throw under the bus" last Nov. during negotiations with (union) SEIU. Yep - it's still the little guy/gal working to make a better NARH for the community.