To improve the patient-centered experience at Northern Westchester Hospital, the staff instituted the Food Is Care program. First, the Food Is Care team determined what patients were looking for: personal choice of what and when to eat, variety of food choices similar to what they would eat at home or in a restaurant, all meals cooked to order, and real-time nutrition education when placing the order.
Next, all cooks were retrained by the Culinary Institute of America to cook all meals fresh and to-order, the kitchen was redesigned to meet the demands of restaurant-style cooking, and 90% of fruits and vegetables are now sourced from local farmers as a result of new procurement methods. Meals are cooked to order, patient orders and preferences are catalogued in specialized nutritional software, and any unsuitable items are flagged so that a trained nutrition associate in the dedicated Room Service Call Center can guide patients to healthier choices.
Patient satisfaction with food quality improved, moving from the bottom 25th quartile to the 90th percentile and has remained in the top 10 percent of hospitals nationwide. Other accomplishments include the elimination of production batch cooking and an established onsite herb and perennial garden. It has also been recognized as a best practice in Food and Nutrition by the Planetree Organization.