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Room service dining improves the patient experience at Flagstaff Medical Center

It’s made to order; it’s fresh; it’s hot (unless it’s supposed to be cold): The Nutrition Services Department at Flagstaff Medical Center is now offering room service dining to people staying in the hospital.

The six-week-old program is similar to what you’d enjoy in a hotel – except your health conditions, dietary restrictions and specific nutritional needs are taken into account. For example, each food item on the restaurant-style menu has a listed carbohydrate count, and patients are safe from going over their personal limit.

As Northern Arizona Healthcare continues its journey to create an amazing experience, making food and nutrition part of the healing process, and on the patient’s terms, is one more way to achieve patient-focused excellence. The program gives some control back to the patient, empowering them to make food choices that align with their health needs.

 “It takes the guessing out of the game,” said FMC Nutrition Assistant Lisa Dominguez of the comprehensive service, for which about 85 percent of inpatients are eligible.

How it works: Patients order off the menu by phone anytime between 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Meals are prepared to the patient’s specifications – which means more nutritious and fresher products – and delivered via a high-tech tray tracking system within a guaranteed 45 minutes. All restricted and modified diets, including liquid, cardiac, renal, carbohydrate-controlled and more, are followed carefully. Nurses can see what patients order, electronically follow the trays and know when they’re delivered.

“We’re treating food as medicine,” said Cristine Currie, FMC director of Nutrition Services. “The right patient gets the right food, every time.”

As with medications, patients’ IDs are checked twice before they are served meals.

The new service works as an educational tool for patients and families grappling with the nutritional requirements of an illness or condition. For example, patients with newly diagnosed diabetes receive guidance regarding foods they should and shouldn’t eat, in what amounts and the reasons why.

Families are also welcome to eat with patients. Guest trays are available for $10 and include one entrée, two sides, one dessert and up to two beverages.