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June 3, 2011 > Delivering Tasty, Healthful Menu Options to Expectant Moms

Delivering Tasty, Healthful Menu Options to Expectant Moms

Direct Feedback Leads to New and Improved Culinary Options

For those eating for two, here's some good news. This summer, Washington Hospital's Food and Nutritional Services Department will introduce some new healthful-and delicious-menu options focused specifically on the needs of expecting moms.

"We're excited to introduce a fresh and delicious maternity menu," says Lorie Roffelsen, R.D., a registered dietitian at Washington Hospital. "From direct feedback and interviews with patients and staff, we were able to develop a special menu tailored specifically for new moms."

Recently Roffelsen teamed with Elvis Lavarrenda, the hospital's Food and Nutritional Services production manager and chef, for the latest "Culinary Rounds," a hospital program focused on improving menu items. During the process, the team shared flavorful food samples with nurses and other medical staff and, in turn, received immediate feedback that helped to craft a new and improved maternity menu.

"Culinary Rounds is an inter-department effort to help us understand and meet the various menu desires and expectations of our patients," says Roffelsen.

Over the last few months, the team conducted a series of interviews with labor and delivery patients in addition to the weekly rounds, which aided Roffelsen and Lavarrenda in better determining the ideal menu items, portion sizes and more. Notably, menu choices that didn't make the cut were eliminated.

"Patients asked for a wider variety of breads and entrees which have been added. "We are constantly working on improving menu options and recipes, as well as changing out unpopular items for new ones to provide hearty and healthy meal choices for our new moms," Roffelsen points out.

Roffelsen says that since Culinary Rounds was implemented several years ago, it has played a critical role exploring fresh and new menu options while also identifying areas for improvement.

"Instead of guessing what patients and staff think about our food, we hear it directly from the nurses, speech pathologists and physicians who are at the bedside every day," says Roffelsen. "We also conduct meal-rounds where we visit patients at the bedside and get feedback from them or from family members. This gives us an opportunity to make sure everything has been going well with their meals and to rectify any problems immediately."

Dexter Hernousura, a registered nurse at Washington Hospital, says he believes that participating in the weekly rounds is another element that contributes to improving patient care.

"As a nurse, being able to better describe menu options and provide important feedback to the nutrition services staff improves my rapport with my patients," Hernousura says. "The hospital serves a diverse patient population, so it's very important that we have a variety of meals that can accommodate everyone."

Since quality and variety are two key ingredients in crafting a successful menu, a top priority for the food and nutrition services remains a focus on fresh and seasonal foods, Roffelsen adds.

"The hospital is always exploring menu changes that are infused with seasonality and creativity to keep patients and employees satisfied. When items are in season, our meals include organic and/or locally grown produce to ensure the very best for our patients."

Looking for Culinary Inspiration?

To find nutritional tips, as well as delicious, healthful recipes to enjoy at home, visit www. whhs.com/nutrition/nutritional-recipes.

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