I've been thinking about this blog subject for some time. Hospital food as a rule has garnered a reputation for being tasteless and boring. The subject of many jokes and a long running cause of many a long face on folks having to stay in hospitals.
My only stay in a hospital occurred back in the summer of 1997. I'd managed to have an accident at work that severed all of the fingers on my left hand, thusly I did then spend the next 17 days in hospital in Calgary AB. Now in Canada, medical care is
free so as you can imagine when its your taxes paying for a service, everything is prioritized in Canadian medicine. Bigger centers get better medicine and more money for the kind of medical teams that can re-attach fingers and the like. So the medicine IS
there when you need it but other things suffer, Staffing is sometimes not up to snuff and the pay that support staff and doctors receive in Canada while not bad, is scanty compared to what US doctors and support staff receive. Further down the line is food
and like everywhere I assume, the food is abysmal.
When I was in, every day was an offering that looked ok, but tasted awful. Mashed potatoes from flakes, unsalted everything, fish sticks and jello. I remember a friend coming to see me with a bag full of Burger King, boy was I happy to see that guy. My
daily victuals got better once I got mobile, they had a Starbucks styled coffee shop in the lobby that featured the beans and sprouts kinda wraps and sandwiches that seemed to be all the rage there for awhile. The day I was released from the hospital I walked
straight across the highway and into a Steakhouse and ordered up a piece of Prime Rib only too late did I remember that I couldn't cut it with just one hand, sheesh. The waitress helped me out...
At any rate, as time has passed, nothing had ever dissuaded me of the idea that hospital food was terrible stuff and then I met a gal from the US. We got together and had a child. The pregnancy was a tough one right from the get go and by the end of the
second trimester she was diagnosed with full on Placenta Previa and bedridden in hospital. At first she was in Vernon BC, the they shipped her down to the Royal Columbian in Burnaby BC. The care was deficient, one nurse for 8 high risk pregnancy patients.
Food? Forget about it, these girls were having a hard enough time trying to just get water. Ultimately she was saved by Blue Cross who for some reason was balking at continuing to pay for Canadian medicine, and she was air lifted to Swedish Medical Center
is Seattle Washington.
So this is where my knowledge of hospital food changed forever. The rest, the care, the support staff, thats another story, it was much better than Canadian, but the food...geez. I knew the hospital was a bit out of the norm when I discovered valet parking
for your car. The next discovery was that every patient in the high risk pregnancy ward had a private room and every private room had a chair that turned into a bed, for the father! Then came the food. There was no cart that showed up thrice daily filled with
awful food. Instead, we had menus, like in a fine hotel and we ordered from that, room service. We had nachos amd hot dogs, and beef dips and pizzas and milkshakes and so on, wonderful stuff. I finally got to ask someone about this and they told me that the
menu style of food service was a pilot program at Swedish that they were trying out and that to that time, it was proving to be a wild success. How they defined that success was by how much it cost and the cost? Less than their traditional fare. The reason
was that because patients were consuming the food, instead of picking at it, they got better faster reducing their time in hospital and at 3000.00 a day for some of these folks, an extra 20$ spent on food was nothing in comparison.
I often wonder if this program has spread to other hospitals? Did they keep it at Swedish? Have any of you any experience with this?