Food and Nutrition
We at the Department of Food and Nutrition at NUMC strive to deliver the highest quality nutritious meals to our patients. We take the most recent knowledge of nutrition and wellness, and combine it with wholesome fresh food to provide our patients with the best environment to heal faster.
Food and Nutrition Staff
NUMC employs approximately 70 food service associates who are trained and frequently tested on safe food-handling techniques and proper infection control. They prepare and serve the food to the patients and staff courteously and efficiently, always eager to help make a patient’s stay a little brighter with a special food request. The food service supervisors are all graduates of the 120-hour Dietary Manager’s Course, and are also regularly in-serviced to maintain their knowledge of the prevention of food-borne illnesses.
Most patients are visited routinely by one of our Registered Dietitians. These professionals, as well as the management, have all obtained their credentials from accredited universities, and must maintain their knowledge by accruing continuing education credits in order to stay registered with the Academy of the Nutrition and Dietetics. In addition, they are certified with the State of New York as Certified Dietitian-Nutritionists. Some dietitians at NUMC have specialties, such as Certification as Nutrition Support Clinicians by the American Society for Parenteral and Enteral Nutrition. Dietitians are an integral part of the health care team. They work closely with nurses, physicians and other health care professionals to provide quality nutritional care to the patients at NUMC. For patients who are too ill to consume an oral diet, the dietitians will recommend to the Physician the most appropriate mode of nutrition support to provide the patient with an optimal nutritional outcome.
The main kitchen was originally built with the Dynamic Care Building in 1973 and recently underwent a total renovation. New equipment was added enabling food preparation methods which allow for the greatest nutrient preservation. Besides preparing foods which are healthy, our chefs are always concerned with presenting meals which are appetizing and delicious.
Each floor of the hospital has its own pantry that is stocked daily with snacks by the Food and Nutrition Department. There are also microwave ovens and refrigerators for the patients to use, with assistance from the nursing staff.
The employee cafeteria feeds up to 400 people per day from all areas of the hospital. There you can find a tasteful variety of hot or cold options ranging from tempting pasta dishes to personal pizzas or homemade soups to gourmet salads and sandwiches or yogurt.
The staff of the Food and Nutrition Department serves about 350 patients each meal. Providing this many people with tasty, attractive meals is a complicated but precise process, as everyone has individual needs and preferences. However, we strive to make sure every single patient is happy with his or her diet. One method of achieving this goal has been by eliminating handwritten paper menus and utilizing state-of-the-art computer systems. When a patient is admitted, his or her physician decides what type of diet the patient should receive based on his or her medical history. The diet is then entered into the electronic medical record (a large computer system that holds patient information), which is automatically transmitted to the computer system in the main Food and Nutrition Office. The computer combines the diet order with the patient’s allergies and personal preferences, and prints out a tray ticket. A supervisor reviews each tray ticket to make sure it is an attractive and appetizing meal. It is then put together on a tray and brought up to the patient.
A representative of the Department visits patients to review their menu selections and preferences. Again, this is not done with a paper and pencil, but is entered into a tablet with a touch screen display which interfaces with the dietary computer system in real time. This eliminates questions about what the patient is allowed to eat, as each patient’s personal diet appears on the tablet. By taking selections in this manner, it gives the patients the opportunity to discuss their dietary concerns with a live person.
The Food and Nutrition Department serves a one-week menu cycle that is ethnically and culturally diverse. Many alternate dishes are available if a patient dislikes the meal of the day. Being a large teaching hospital, we must have food available for all different kinds of diets, from low-sodium, low-cholesterol diets to gluten-free diets. We serve Italian meals, Latino meals, and Vegetarian dishes. Holiday menus are created to provide festive meals to acknowledge those who celebrate them. Our disaster menu is ready at a moment’s notice to provide necessary demands should a tragedy strike our area. On a lighter note, we provide kid-friendly meals to our youngest pediatric patients, and appropriate food that can be easily tolerated by the elderly. The chefs have whipped up special meals for some long-term patients in the past; patients can even receive a piece of cake on their birthday if their diets allow it. Even the pickiest eaters usually find something they like to eat during their stay here.
If you have questions about the diet your physician ordered for you, or why you are receiving special food on your tray, or if you just have questions about general nutrition and healthy eating habits, the dietitians will be happy to answer any questions you have. Patients on special diets such as diabetic, low-sodium, low-cholesterol, low-fat, renal, etc., will receive written materials about their diet to take home with them after discharge. These materials will guide the patient/patient’s family on what foods they can include in their diet, will give suggestions on foods that can be substituted for ones that should be avoided, as well as providing information on the preparation of foods.
NUMC patients who have diabetes and/or renal/kidney disease are able to come in as outpatients and have a counseling session with a dietitian. A referral from an NUMC physician needs to be entered in the computer for out-patient nutrition counseling. Once this is ordered, the request will print in the Food and Nutrition department and the patient will be contacted via phone so an appointment can be made with a dietitian. Patients having any type of bariatric surgery at NUMC will receive intensive nutrition counseling with a dietitian in the Department of Surgery prior to their surgery.