MUSC The Catalyst
MUSC arial view


MUSCMedical LinksCharleston LinksArchivesCatalyst AdvertisersSeminars and EventsResearch StudiesPublic RelationsResearch GrantsCatalyst PDF FileMUSC home pageCommunity HappeningsCampus NewsApplause

MUSCMedical LinksCharleston LinksArchivesCatalyst AdvertisersSeminars and EventsResearch StudiesPublic RelationsResearch GrantsMUSC home pageCommunity HappeningsCampus NewsApplause


Hospital food moves to order-on-demand

by Cindy Abole
Public Relations
Sizzling chicken, beef or vegetable fajitas served with a crisp tossed salad and angel food cake or sherbet for dessert. These and other meals can be enjoyed anytime by patients in MUSC’s Ashley River Tower (ART). They are just a couple of heart-healthy  tasty foods offered in a new menu and food service by MUSC’s dietary partner, Sodexho Health Care Services.
Imagine a patient ordering a hot breakfast, lunch or dinner whenever they feel like eating between 7 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. Patients can order a variety of choices including made-to-order omelets, a pasta bar, pizza, glazed pork, salads and even desserts.
ART dietary services supervisor Laura Cagley scans an AYR ticket.

This patient-centered approach to hospital dining provides individuals with meals made with a fresh, improved taste and with a higher nutritional value, plus a heightened level of customer service and satisfaction. It has been available at ART since the facility opened in February 2008, and will be expanded to patients at the main hospital starting this fall.
This innovative dining concept known as the At Your Request (AYR) Room Service Dining Program was developed at the Dana Farber Cancer Institute/Children’s Hospital in Boston and currently is offered at Sodexho hospitals and health-care facilities across the country.
The AYR program is just one of several multi-phased projects planned between Sodexho and MUSC to improve food service facilities on campus. Earlier this year, Sodexho committed to a $5 million capital investment to MUSC for facility upgrades for kitchens, exhaust systems, servery areas and dining rooms. Sodexho also has committed to improving patient meal preparation by installing a computerized, food-to-order (order-on-demand) system. MUSC will reimburse Sodexho $1.5 million during the five-year contract period resulting in an overall savings during these fiscally tight times.
Meal selections from a full, restaurant-style menu, are based upon a patient’s dietary restrictions as determined by the registered dietitian, physician and/or unit nurse manager. Those on a modified or restricted diet can obtain help from a room service assistant. Once an order has been placed and entered into the computerized ordering system, the dining services team direct chefs to cook and service line staff to assemble the trays. Within minutes, the orders are loaded onto serving carts and delivered directly to patients. ART’s dining services team guarantees that the patient's meal will arrive within 30 minutes of the order.
“The concept is very much like how a hotel offers room service for its guests,” said Brad Masteller, director of dietary services. “In this case, the patient decides what he or she wants to eat and at what time. It’s very different from the traditional delivery of patient trays and menu selections.”
This new food service has resulted in increased customer satisfaction, greater efficiency and less waste, according to Masteller. He and his staff next will focus on the University Hospital cafeteria renovations set to begin mid-May.
  “This is part of a huge improvement project with Sodexho that will span the summer. That’s why we’re waiting until May and post graduation since it will impact staff,” said Lisa Montgomery, vice president for finance and administration. “Sodexho has come forward to initiate this project. It’s a win-win situation for our patients, their families and our food service group.”

Friday, April 10, 2009

The Catalyst Online is published weekly by the MUSC Office of Public Relations for the faculty, employees and students of the Medical University of South Carolina. The Catalyst Online editor, Kim Draughn, can be reached at 792-4107 or by email, Editorial copy can be submitted to The Catalyst Online and to The Catalyst in print by fax, 792-6723, or by email to To place an ad in The Catalyst hardcopy, call Island Publications at 849-1778, ext. 201.