Affinity nurses plan food drive to provide snacks to patients amid hospital policy changes

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Registered nurses from Affinity Medical Center in Massillon, Ohio, made efforts to collect food Monday after alleging the hospital stopped providing snacks for patients in nursing units.

"By not providing snacks for our diabetic patients, and now removing much of the snack food from the floor, the hospital puts our patients at risk for dangerously low blood sugars during the night and early morning hours," Michelle Offenberger, RN, who works in the hospital's medical telemetry unit, said in a news release from National Nurses United.

The union, which respresents the workers, said nurses decided to plan a food drive, for items such as wrapped crackers, peanut butter crackers, single serve pudding cups and single serve applesauce cups, after they learned Affinity would stop providing snacks in patient care units and implement a new procedure requiring patients to order any desired snack with their meal tray.

"The policy change failed to consider patients who are not able to perform meal ordering on their own, patients who are admitted after meal ordering has occurred and those that may be in a test or procedure during the meal ordering period," the union added.

In an emailed statement to Becker's Hospital Review, Affinity, which is owned by Brentwood, Tenn.-based Quorum Health, said necessary patient food items are stocked on the floors, and a personal ambassador can be contacted to bring the requested item to the patient if a needed item is not stocked.

The hospital said ambassadors are available each day from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., and if they aren't available, the hospital's nursing coordinators and staff assist with the patient's request. 

As far as the nurses' food collection efforts, Affinity said the hospital is unable to accept outside food donations. 

"Patient safety is our number one concern; therefore, we will not accept food donations for our patients as these items are not vetted for safety. In addition, the hospital is already supplying all necessary nourishments to the patients we care for," the hospital said.


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