Hospital Cafeterias Are Changing
There is a new trend we are seeing with hospitals. Many are moving toward modern cafeterias and dining facilities in search of greater patient satisfaction and overall revenue. With the knowledge that patient comfort and nutrition are beneficial in the healing process, hospitals are upgrading kitchen spaces, equipment and even menus.
Along with seeking greater patient satisfaction, many hospitals that renovate facility cafeterias and dining areas hope to increase revenue sources through food services. Disappearing is the sterile look we all may remember and equate to our elementary school days. What’s taking hold, in line with the expressed wants of patients, is a true place of rejuvenation. Tables, chairs, lounger chair, areas in the sun – all of these and more are transforming the spaces.
Aiming toward modernizing hospital kitchens, facilities across the country are renovating their cafeterias for better design and easier access – for both patients and community members. The hospital in New Milford, Connecticut, recently made the cafeteria a focal point of wellness for the whole community, renovating the kitchen so that there’s easy access for everyone – including area residents – from the main lobby.
There’s a greater interest in making hospital cafes and food service facilities more comfortable and more restaurant-like. When a hospital cafeteria feels more like a restaurant, patients and visitors are more comfortable, leading to greater satisfaction and better overall wellness.
To create a more modern and café-style atmosphere, hospitals are utilizing space and bright lighting to a greater degree. For a more restaurant feel, hospital dining areas are employing various kitchen equipment and dining room furniture such as small and large table settings, restaurant-style booths, and counter-style bar seating.
Cafeteria improvements also include self-serve and cook-to-order stations, and kitchen areas where customers can order and watch the chef prepare various meals. This can include items such as self-serve, buffet-style food stations like the one featured in the image below.
These buffet-style serving systems allow hospital guests, relatives, etc. to create their own unique plate of food that has been kept either warm or cool, depending on what kind of food is being served.
In addition, hospital upgrades that are becoming more common include specialty coffee makers, smoothie and frozen drink machines and customized drink fountains, as well as enhanced salad bars, pizza ovens, and serving tables. These are far from the old refrigerated merchandisers that simply had soda, milk and tea.
For family members of patients, and employees, the hospital cafeteria provides a place to take a break – and more institutions want to make it as welcoming and comfortable as possible. Technology improvements within dining areas include wall-mounted flat screen monitors that assign families numbers so they can track a patient moving from operating room to recovery.
Recognizing that nutritious meals play a large role in patient recovery and visitor satisfaction, some hospitals are also overhauling menus, in an attempt to focus on organic, locally sourced meals and more nutritious offerings. Along with structural and kitchen equipment upgrades, some hospitals are designing landscape and rooftops to include vegetable and herb gardens to provide fresh produce to patients and visitors.
The overall takeaway in this food service shift is that hospitals are searching for ways to make people more comfortable in an often-uncomfortable environment. In doing so, the institutions hope to increase general patient satisfaction, entice community members into café-style cafeterias and grow revenue. And by serving fresh food options, cooked to order in a warm and welcoming restaurant environment, hospitals will cut back on food waste as well.
Although most hospitals have a full-service cafeteria, one very important aspect of foodservice in a hospital is the ability for staff to transport meals to the patients staying in the hospital. This is made possible through the use of transportable heating trays and rolling carts that keep the food to temperature and can transport many meals at once.
Hospital cafeterias also employ in-house chefs, and those chefs deserve the highest-quality kitchen equipment they can get. You can find all of the equipment, smallwares, and display stations your hospital cafeteria will need!