Prognosis Grim for McDonald's Restaurants in Hospitals
"So, we banned smoking on the campus. We no longer hire smokers. We supported the efforts for Ohio to go smoke free in public places. We've taken trans fats out of all of our cafeterias. We've posted calories. We took out our fryers. We made 40 to 50 changes in our cafeteria alone and in our patients' food. We provided in the community a couple years ago free access to the YMCA. We partnered with the YMCA, Curves, and Weight Watchers to offer free gym memberships and access to Weight Watchers for community members for six months," Sheil says.
"It was to focus on wellness and generate awareness over the premature causes of death which are caused because of smoking, obesity and lack of exercise."
"This issue with McDonald's is old news to us. It's not going to change anything we do," she says. "We are well on our way to creating the healthiest environment we can and to be a role model for healthy behaviors in the hospital industry and we have done a pretty good job. This lease is up soon and it's an old issue for us."
What we are hearing now from Howser and Sheil is what we can expect to hear in the coming months and years from officials in the 26 hospitals that still house McDonald's franchises. Hospital leaders are already weary of defending their association with McDonald's in those predictable interviews with the local TV news station that occur every time a group like CAI issues a press release. You've seen those spots. They invariably show shoulders-down and backside video of obese McDonald's customers waiting in line for a Big Mac fix.
No hospital wants to have the distinction of being the last in the United States to house a McDonald's. There won't be a grand announcement so much as a quiet parting of the ways. Hospital officials will deny or play down the idea that McDonald's fat-infused diet was a factor. After all, there is no need to bad-mouth a former business partner. It's just time to move on.
This has to happen. We know about the causes, effects, and costs of overweight and obesity. So it is indefensible for hospitals to continue to provide space for a restaurant chain that serves food linked to the health problems clinicians are treating just a few steps away. It's not just a mixed message. It's the wrong message.
John Commins is a senior editor with HealthLeaders Media.
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