Richmond VA Medical Center is continuously making strides to enhance food services for our Veterans on their road to recovery. Chief of Nutrition and Food Service, Dr. Laura Nihan discussed how the team is creating more choices for patients. After arriving in 2012, Dr. Nihan analyzed and surveyed the food delivered to patients and listened to their feedback.
“Even though all foods that we serve to our patients met nutritional regulations and standards, it was evident a wider array of fruit choices would be enjoyable”. Patients’ meals now include grapes, melons, cantaloupe, strawberries and other fruits which were new additions to the menus.
“We have also included training time with professional chefs to teach our cooks new techniques and we have purchased new equipment that allowed us to serve foods that we could not serve before such as homemade muffins and breads. We have seen more patient satisfaction with the new food choices”, remarked Nihan.
Healthy fresh foods are important for our Veterans and are a significant part of recovery, both nutritionally and emotionally. Veterans now have an opportunity to enjoy McGuire’s ice cream social. The event has been so popular, Veterans will now be able to enjoy ice cream, but include the additions of root beer floats and parfaits with fruit.”
The root beer floats will be low in sugar so it will not affect their dietary needs. This is a great opportunity for our patients to feel like a kid again,” stated Nihan. “We are also providing cakes to patients on their birthday. In the past it has not been done,” Dr. Nihan said. “It is nice for them to receive something on their birthday.”
Dr. Nihan added, “The medical center is always interested in how to improve the Veteran’s experience and provide them with excellent service. These steps make a difference to the patient. It’s about taking the next step to make things better,” Nihan stated. Dr. Nihan noted she is receiving positive responses for the new meals delivered to our patients and she is always interested in suggestions for additional improvements.