More Hospitals Design Food Around Patients' Conditions, Cravings

Some major hospitals are hiring trained chefs to renovate menus and create customized meals depending on patients' medical conditions and cravings, according to a Wall Street Journal report.

Rex Healthcare in Raleigh, N.C., keeps a small herb garden outside the cafeteria where patients can watch chefs snip fresh ingredients. At Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York, an executive chef visits patients' rooms to see if there's something the kitchen can create to help their dietary challenges. The kitchen has developed specially flavored custards, like French toast, for patients who have a hard time swallowing.

Dishes need not be gourmet to leave patients satisfied. MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, for example, added Louisiana Hot Sauce and Flamin' Hot Cheetos to the menu due to high demand among chemotherapy patients with blunted taste buds.

Though these culinary practices can take more work, and sometimes more money depending on the ingredients, hospital officials say the cost works out to be the same as traditional hospital food, according to the report. In some instances, these strategies might even cut costs. An official from Memorial Sloan-Kettering even said the customization of patient food resulted in less waste, since patients received meals they truly wanted.

Related Articles on Hospital Food:

Study Finds California Children's Hospitals Lack Healthy Cafeteria Food
Lobster Tails and Italian Bedding: Hospitals Compete in Luxury for Wealthy Patients
Patient Experience: An Increasingly Critical Hospital Indicator

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