The Telegram (St. John's)
How do you like your hospital food now?
My server asked if I’d like soup of the day, garden or Caesar salad to start and if I’d like a sandwich or a hot entrée. I chose an entrée.
She then read off my choices. If I was in the mood for beef, I could choose from meatloaf, classic pot roast, meatballs and gravy, Oriental beef strips or baked spaghetti.
For poultry, the menu offered classic roast turkey, chicken alfredo, chicken thigh and curry chicken. There was sweet and sour and roast pork, fish and chips, steamed salmon, cod loin and two vegetarian choices; macaroni and cheese or an omelette.
Sides included mashed potato, roasted potato, wild rice medley, steamed rice, baked French fries, green beans, baby peas, carrot and turnip blend, broccoli florets, sliced carrots, yellow and orange carrots, diced butternut squash and sweet corn.
The desserts were more predictable; pudding, jello, fresh and canned fruit, ice cream sherbet, cookies, turnover and Arrowroot.
Sadly there was no wine served. What kind of a joint is this? Hey, you can’t have everything when you’re a hospital patient.
I discovered this amazing change in hospital food on my last stay but couldn’t possibly remember all the choices to write about it. This time I asked the server if there was any way I could get a copy of the menu, and lo and behold she produced one, which apparently each patient is supposed to get.
The law of averages says most of you haven’t had this dining experience and might never but I thought I’d give the health care system a pat on the back.
Not that all the food was all delicious by any stretch of the imagination. My server confided that the roast turkey wasn’t real turkey and the chicken thighs were rubbery. Most of the vegetables were unremarkable which is almost as good as good and better than the often indistinguishable offering of the past. Some of them actually were rather good. There I said it.
Plus you can change your mind. The trays are assembled based on the individual requests in pantry areas right on the unit. I ordered fish one day and by late afternoon I couldn’t face it and there was no problem changing it to an omelette, albeit a plain omelette but it came with squash and tasty if not crispy fried potatoes.
I am a bit of a foodie, or perhaps I should say was a bit of a foodie. My tastings now are almost exclusively at home and usually more like good diner than fine dining, although when I do get inspired Newman always pronounces that such a delicious meal “would cost a couple of hundred dollars in a restaurant” or “you’d be lucky to get a meal like this in a restaurant.”
Janine thinks it’s rather sad that my best/only eating out experience in recent memory is at Chez St. Clare’s. I didn’t say it was anything close to eating out in a nice restaurant but there is something to be said for the whole experience. Just ask the man who hoped his wife wouldn’t be there to pick him up until after lunch. True story, but of course we don’t know what kind of lunch he faced going home.
I couldn’t help but think what this improved service (introduced over two year ago) must be costing in a time of dire financial straits but a quick Google provided astounding information that this system, known as Steamplicity, was estimated to save Eastern Health about $2 million annually by eliminating waste in the system and decreasing the number of untouched trays by about 84 per cent.
There’s an environmental improvement too. Steamplicity achieves annual savings of approximately $16,000$20,000 in utility costs based on a 400-bed hospital. Even with using real cutlery.
Winner, winner, better dinner and the benefits to patient well-being is priceless.