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Hospital Revs Menu to Boost Patient Experience

Marianne Aiello, for HealthLeaders Media, June 18, 2014

Executives at John Muir Health in California hope the addition of more nutritious, seasonal, and culturally diverse entree choices will improve patients' health beyond their stay.

Traditionally, the mere mention of hospital food is sure to make anyone turn up their nose. For me, the thought conjures memories from years ago—of an orderly giving me an apologetic smile as he unveiled bland, soggy food from beneath a taupe-colored plastic dome.

But, thankfully, a growing number of hospitals and health systems are beginning to make the connection between the quality of the food they serve and the patient experience. Many are revamping their menus, creating healthier, more diverse, and tastier food options for patients.

John Muir Health, a two-hospital system in California, has been one of the organizations leading the charge in reimagining—and, perhaps, rebranding—the image of hospital food.

"John Muir Health's nutrition department has been changing and updating menus on an ongoing basis over the years as we receive feedback from our patients and as new products become available," says Sandi Rigney, director of nutritional services for the health system. "One of our most popular entrees, which we have continued to keep on the menu year after year, is our fresh seasonal fruit plate."

The health system has removed most of its beef entrees from the menu, adding more fish, vegetarian, child-friendly, and culturally diverse entree choices in their place.

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