Deep River hospi­tal offers healthy foods

The Daily Observer - - FRONT PAGE - STEPHEN UHLER

DEEP RIVER – The Deep River and District Hospi­tal is cel­e­brat­ing its new sta­tus as a leader in healthy eat­ing.

Ear­lier this month, staff rep­re­sen­ta­tives and other VIPs gath­ered in the cafe­te­ria to mark reach­ing the Sil­ver level in the Healthy Foods in Cham­plain Hos­pi­tals pro­gram, the first of the 20 hos­pi­tals within the Cham­plain Lo­cal Health In­te­grated Net­work (LHIN) to do so.

All hos­pi­tals in the re­gion, in­clud­ing the Pem­broke Re­gional Hospi­tal, have vol­un­tar­ily signed on to this re­gion-wide pro­gram to pro­mote and prac­tise healthy eat­ing within their in­sti­tu­tions. To this end, deep fry­ers are be­ing scrapped, calo­rie and sodium counts posted and re­duced where pos­si­ble, por­tion sizes de­creased, more healthy choices of grains, fruits and veg­eta­bles of­fered on the menu and junk food and drinks eased out of the vend­ing ma­chines.

Dr. Janet Gow, chair­woman of the hospi­tal’s board of directors, said she wanted to thank ev­ery­one for help­ing to achieve this level, mak­ing them the first within the LHIN to achieve the ac­com­plish­ment.

“The com­mit­ment and at­ti­tude to­wards healthy eat­ing this award rep­re­sents ben­e­fits ev­ery­one,” she said. “It is very good to cel­e­brate this pos­i­tive achieve­ment.”

Spear­headed by the Cham­plain Car­dio­vas­cu­lar Dis­ease Pre­ven­tion Net­work (CCPN), the aim of the healthy foods pro­gram is to re­duce rates of chronic ill­nesses such as heart dis­ease, stroke and cancer by cre­at­ing a place where the healthy choice is the easy choice. The idea is to make hos­pi­tals true mod­els of healthy liv­ing.

Chan­tale LeClerc, Cham­plain LHIN CEO, said when this idea was first in­tro­duced, there were a lot of skep­tics who won­dered how this could work. Still, the hos­pi­tals had to con­sider their role in pro­mot­ing healthy eat­ing, not just within its walls, but through­out the com­mu­nity.

“We had to con­sider what are we serv­ing the thou­sands of peo­ple walk­ing through our hos­pi­tals ev­ery day,” she said, in­clud­ing doc­tors, nurses, nurse prac­ti­tion­ers and other staff. “It didn’t make sense if we are work­ing to get peo­ple well to be serv­ing junk food to ev­ery­one else.”

LeClerc said hos­pi­tals have to lead by ex­am­ple, and be­ing role mod­els for healthy eat­ing prac­tices is a great way to give back to the com­mu­nity. This will ben­e­fit ev­ery­one in the long run, she said, and thanked Deep River and District Hospi­tal for lead­ing the way.

“This is re­ally ex­em­plary and a sig­nif­i­cant achieve­ment,” LeClerc said.

Jenna Walsh, hospi­tal di­eti­tian, said Deep River signed onto this back ini­tia­tive in Oc­to­ber 2014. She said it took a lit­tle time to ad­just to this new ap­proach to food, but thanks to a lot of hard work from the di­etary staff the hospi­tal was able to make the tran­si­tion.

“The hard­est part was hitting the ini­tial steps,” she said, but by Fe­bru­ary 2016 the hospi­tal had reached the Bronze level.

Walsh said the hospi­tal has been get­ting pos­i­tive feed­back from the pub­lic, the pa­tients and the staff.

“We’ve set an ex­am­ple in that if we can do it, any­one can.”

Lau­rie Do­jeiji, CCPN pro­gram man­ager, Ot­tawa Heart In­sti­tute, heads up the pro­gram, and helps hos­pi­tals through the im­ple­men­ta­tion process.

She said a grad­u­ated rank­ing sys­tem of Bronze, Sil­ver, Gold is be­ing used as it isn’t re­al­is­tic to ex­pect overnight change through­out the en­tire sys­tem. This phased im­ple­men­ta­tion will al­low the time to make the changes needed.

To date, all of the 20 hos­pi­tals are well into this process, hav­ing reached Bronze lev­els.

Do­jeiji said switch­ing a cul­ture around isn’t easy. Some­times, one has to find al­ter­nate prod­ucts, for ex­am­ple, if a brand of canned soup is deemed un­healthy be­cause of the ex­is­tence of high sodium lev­els. The main key, though, is to make the en­vi­ron­ment it­self more sup­port­ive to healthy eat­ing by get­ting rid of the bad and re­plac­ing it with the good, so it is as easy as pos­si­ble to make healthy choices.

“They just need some di­rec­tion,” she said, not­ing ev­ery­one from the LHIN to the CCPN and the hos­pi­tals are work­ing to­wards a com­mon goal, phas­ing in these changes over time.

“You have to ap­pre­ci­ate the value that food has in main­tain­ing over­all health,” Do­jeiji added. “That knowl­edge drives this ini­tia­tive.”

STEPHEN UHLER/DAILY OB­SERVER

The Deep River and District Hospi­tal cel­e­brated reach­ing the sil­ver level in the Healthy Foods in Cham­plain Hos­pi­tals pro­gram, the first one out of the 20 hos­pi­tals tak­ing part. The pro­gram pro­motes healthy eat­ing both for pa­tients, as well as vis­i­tors and staff at the hospi­tal. Cel­e­brat­ing the achieve­ment (from left) are Richard Bedard, hospi­tal pres­i­dent and CEO; Jenna Walsh, di­eti­cian; Eileen Burke, pres­i­dent of the hospi­tal aux­il­iary; Bill Proulx, man­ager of food ser­vices; Chan­tale Leclerc, CEO of the Cham­plain District LHIN; Lau­rie Do­jeiji, Cham­plain Car­dio­vas­cu­lar Dis­ease Pre­ven­tion Net­work pro­gram man­ager Ot­tawa Heart In­sti­tute and Wil­liam Wil­lard, the hospi­tal's chief fi­nan­cial of­fi­cer.

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