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Phelps Memorial Hospital Offers Patients 'Dining on Demand'

The new food service system at Phelps is cutting waste and making a more pleasant hospital experience, according to officials.
The new food service system at Phelps is cutting waste and making a more pleasant hospital experience, according to officials. Photo Credit: Courtesy Phelps Memorial Hospital

TARRYTOWN, N.Y.  -- The Phelps Memorial Hospital Center menu for patients is getting closer to resembling room service than hospital food.

The hospital recently introduced its patients to a new hotel-style on-demand menu. The new "Room Service" program allows patients to order food to be delivered to their beds within the hour.

"In addition to training staff to implement the new program, the hospital spent more than half a million dollars on a redesign of its kitchen, which underwent major renovations last summer," representatives said. "The kitchen was converted from a traditional hospital 1950s tray line to a modern state-of-the-art restaurant-style kitchen."

Rather than the tradition of three meals at set times during the day, Phelps patients are able to order to a call center and have their meals delivered when they want. Studies have shown that when patients can order their meals when they want them, it contributes greatly to their hospital experience, representatives said.

"The meal delivery service is based on the hotel concept of room service, but with one key difference: Call Center Associates, who answer the phones, not only assist patients with selections, but also ensure that the order is appropriate to the patient's diet," representatives said.

"The menu is excellent. I order breakfast at 7:30 and it arrives by 8 o'clock," said Altagracia Saiz, of White Plains, a recent patient at Phelps. "The hospitality staff who bring the food are wonderful."

Both Call Center Associates and Phelps Hospitality staff, who deliver the meals, have training to fulfill patient requests while making sure dietary needs are being met.

"Our meal program is unique in Westchester in that when patients call to place their order, the food is prepared and delivered when it's ready, rather than at a set time," says Rich Schmidt, director of Food, Nutrition and Hospitality Services at Phelps. "We are getting a lot of positive feedback from patients, who like being able to choose from a menu and eat when they are hungry."

Schmidt said that a benefit of the program is that there is much less waste of food, already down by 25 percent at Phelps.

"When you order several meals in advance, it's hard to know what or how much you'll want to eat the next day, or even later that day. Patients are ordering what they want and getting it when they want it, so much less food is coming back uneaten," said Schmidt.

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