Whitney Palmer

Healthcare. Politics. Family.

Haute, Healthy, Local Cuisine Coming to a Hospital Near You

Published in the July 2011 Hospitals & Health Networks Magazine

By Whitney L.J. Howell

Food service departments are adding healthy choices to patient meals

Asian stir fry. Chicken marsala. Spanish rice with black beans. These are familiar dishes that wouldn’t normally raise an eyebrow—except they’re appearing on hospital menus nationwide. The trend is gaining ground as more facilities turn their food service into haute cuisine—and doing so with health in mind.

Improving the nutritional quality of patient meals supports a hospital’s underlying mission to heal, says Holly Emmons, food and nutrition manager at Union Hospital in Maryland. “As a hospital, we’re supposed to do no harm,” she says. “How can we safeguard people’s health if we aren’t feeding them food that’s better for their bodies while they’re with us?”

Union Hospital began working toward that goal in 2009. The facility now buys local, pesticide-free produce and puts those fruits and vegetables, as well as whole-grain pasta, on the menu to increase the fiber patients receive. Union also joined Health Care Without Harm’s Balanced Menu Challenge to attack cardiovascular disease. The effort asks hospitals to replace 20 percent of the red meat they serve with poultry or fish.

Despite the expense of implementing changes, Emmons says she sliced her cost per meal from $0.83 in 2009 to $0.67 for the first half of 2011. She credits the savings to spending less on red meat and relying more on fresh produce.

Better food could become more important as Medicare ties reimbursement levels to patient-satisfaction scores. However, pleasing patients—while serving multigrain breads and lowering sodium content—is already a high priority for Seattle Children’s Hospital.

“Better food is great, but if patients don’t feel better about eating it, it’s a bust,” says Walter Bronowitz, executive chef at Seattle Children’s Hospital. “Seeing a child who is battling nausea actually look forward to a meal and be able to eat it is a wonderful thing. The main goal for us is making our kids and their families happier.”

To sustain the better-food push, Vassar Brothers Medical Center in Poughkeepsie, N.Y., partners with the Culinary Institute of America, giving students firsthand health care food service experience, says Executive Chef Anthony Fischetti. Chefs-in-training observe food preparation and work with hospital nutritionists and dietitians to learn how to make meals that meet different health needs while still maintaining flavor.

“These students are programmed to think of restaurants and catering halls,” Fischetti says. “Working with us, they learn how to create quality food for people who often have strict dietary limitations.”

To read the article on the publication Website: http://hhnmag.com/hhnmag_app/jsp/articledisplay.jsp?dcrpath=HHNMAG/Article/data/07JUL2011/0711HHN_Inbox_patientcare&domain=HHNMAG


July 12, 2011 Posted by | Healthcare | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Pediatric CT Scan Rise

Published on the July 7, 2011 DiagnosticImaging.com

By Whitney L.J. Howell

The use of CT scans in children is rising. Although the improved technology makes scanning pediatric patients easier, many in the industry worry scans contain doses are too large for children’s body weight and size.

A study in the April Radiology revealed many reasons for the five-fold spike in pediatric CT scans from 1995 to 2008 in emergency departments nationwide. Eighty-five percent occurred in hospitals without a pediatric focus, and industry leaders say this presents an opportunity to educate providers and technologists who work mostly with adults.

“The data confirms the technology has improved, and we can handle motion in young patients with little to no sedation,” says study author David Larson, M.D., a Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center radiologist. “It also shows it’s important for community hospitals to partner with children’s hospitals or vendors to set protocols appropriate for kids.”


To read the article in its entirety, visit: http://www.diagnosticimaging.com/pediatric/content/article/113619/1900246


July 11, 2011 Posted by | Healthcare | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Mom-to-Mom Blogs: Hospitals Invite Women to Share Experiences

Published in the American Hospital Association’s October 2010 Hospitals & Health Networks

By Whitney L.J. Howell

Mom-to-Mom Blogs: Hospitals Invite Women to Share Experiences

Ask a mom where she finds advice about parenting, nutrition or child safety, and she’ll likely mention several other mothers before naming her pediatrician. Increasingly, moms are turning to social media as the vehicle to connect with other mothers, and now some hospitals are joining the conversation.

According to the Nielsen Company, which tracks consumer information, women between ages 25 and 54 with at least one child constitute 20 percent of daily online activity. In a July Yahoo! poll, women self-reported spending 20 percent of their time online interacting with women in similar life situations.

“Moms don’t necessarily want to hear from health experts all the time,” says Michelle Davis, marketing operations and community development director for Boston’s Lowell General Hospital. “They want to talk with people who are going through the journey of raising children with them.”

To fulfill that need, Lowell General and Boston’s Floating Hospital for Children held a Facebook contest to recruit five mom bloggers. They launched the Merrimack Valley Moms blog in June and, as of September, have received more than 4,000 unique hits. The hospitals have received more positive feedback about the blog than from any other community initiatives, Davis says.

Each blogger writes at least one post monthly on topics ranging from nutrition to getting children involved in volunteer efforts. Lowell’s communications office ensures topics are appropriate for the blog and corrects grammar mistakes. Hospital officials do not edit content.

Running the blog through the hospital—even if bloggers do not offer medical advice—ensures readers the posts are credible, says Jane Marshall, a Merrimack Valley Mom blogger.

“As a mom, you learn through experience, and not everything works for everyone,” Marshall says. “But it helps to see different parenting techniques other moms have tried.”

Confusing experience for expertise is easy, but a medically trained mother’s voice can stop others from overreacting to a flu epidemic or provide details about safely helping babies sleep through the night, says Wendy Sue Swanson, M.D., a mother and pediatrician who works and blogs for Seattle Children’s Hospital. Swanson has posted more than 100 blogs since January and says her patients connect with her blog and often ask questions during appointments.

“I have limited time with my patients during the day, so the blog gives them more of my attention,” Swanson says. “For providers, it’s an excellent way to arm patients with information to protect themselves and their children against disease or injury.”

To read the story online : http://www.hhnmag.com/hhnmag_app/jsp/articledisplay.jsp?dcrpath=HHNMAG/Article/data/10OCT2010/1010HHN_Inbox_internet&domain=HHNMAG

October 13, 2010 Posted by | Healthcare | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment


%d bloggers like this: