Room Service Coming to UAMS Hospital

By Kate Franks

Nutrition Services has access to a patient’s allergies, doctor’s orders regarding food and beverages and any other dietary restrictions through software connected to the electronic health record. When a patient’s meal is delivered, nursing staff will be notified so the patient can take any medication that should be taken with food.

Menus will be provided to patients with the patient guides they receive upon admission to the hospital. To place an order, patients should call 6-DINE from their room phone or 526-DINE from a cell phone.

“As long as the patient’s room service order is something they are allowed to eat, we will make it and deliver it to their room,” said Tonya Johnson, director of Nutrition Services.

If patients are not able to call and place their food order, patient ambassadors will visit their room and take their order three times a day. After room service hours, snacks on the patient floors and meal boxes from Lobby Café will continue to be available for nursing staff to provide to patients.

“We talked to several other hospitals and did a lot of research before we began working on this program,” said Johnson. “In addition to improved patient satisfaction, food waste decreased, expenses went down and patients were healthier because they were actually eating the food brought to them.  Nutrition is a key element in patient recovery.”

“UAMS will be the first hospital in Central Arkansas to offer this type of room service,” she said. “Other hospitals have room service programs that allow patients to customize their meals like we do now, but we are the first to offer made-to-order meals by chefs in our kitchen when orders are placed using all fresh ingredients following a restaurant-style menu.”

The goal is for each order to leave the kitchen within 10 minutes of being placed.

Nutrition Services is also introducing a Mediterranean-style diet with more plant-based foods such as fruits and vegetables, fresh wraps, salads, whole grains and fish. The standard bread for patients without low-fiber diets will be multi-grain breads and whole wheat buns.

The new menu will offer patients noodle bowls, pasta bars, hummus and more options for wraps and salads. The Mediterranean-style menu is expanding in the cafeteria, Lobby Café and other UAMS dining outlets. Metro Deli now offers a made-to-order salad bar on Tuesdays and Thursdays, along with sushi in the cafeteria on these days. On Mondays and Wednesdays, the cafeteria will soon offer made-to-order wraps and paninis. The baked potato bar, noodle bowl and pasta bar will continue to rotate on Fridays in the cafeteria for day shift and Lobby Café for the evening shift.  Lobby Café now offers spinach quesadillas and Portobello veggie wraps with basil pesto. Portobello mushroom pizzas are now available in three varieties at Doc Java – vegetarian, margarita and meat lovers.

“Our Nutrition Services department provides employees, families and visitors, as well as patients, a wide variety of good, nutritious food options,” said Johnson. “We serve an average of 10,000 meals a day, and everyone has their own preferences. Our amazing staff works very hard to make sure everyone’s needs are met, even providing custom meals for patients who are on very restricted diets. If food is a part of their healing, our team is committed to doing their part.”