At Northwell Health, our culinary departments are built on providing the same standard of service that’s expected in the care we give our patients. With our hospitality-driven approach and our professionally-trained culinary staff, the work we do in the kitchen is essential in our quest to deliver patient satisfaction and redefine health care as a whole. One of the hospitals leading the charge is Huntington Hospital.
Teamwork is imperative, and the staff at Huntington Hospital thrive on teamwork, passion, and dedication. Just ask Sarah Ohlinger, Director of Food and Nutrition and Chief Clinical Dietitian at Huntington Hospital, “We truly believe that when you are surrounded by people who share a passionate commitment around a common purpose, anything is possible.” When it comes to elevating care and improving patient outcomes, it’s the work of the collective that makes all the difference.
Our culinary teams work closely together to directly influence the course of our patients’ journey towards better health. Highly skilled dietitians collaborate with the interdisciplinary team to provide our patients with the latest evidence-based research to assist in improving patient outcomes. The dietitians then work alongside the chefs, diet techs and management team to execute new recipes and ensure that they meet guidelines for therapeutic diets. Then it’s time for the chefs and cooks to bring these recipes to life.
However, the work of the team doesn’t end there. Diet clerks are the voice of the department, handling hundreds of calls a day, and speaking directly to patients to obtain their orders. Our food service workers are the face of our department, delivering meals to patients in under 25 minutes with a smile and a kind word.
Northwell’s commitment to advancing the industry is evident in Huntington Hospital. In just three years, Huntington Hospital went from being ranked in the 16th percentile to being ranked in the 93rd percentile in the country, per the Press Ganey Quality of Food Scores., There’s so much that contributes to that success.
- Replacing dinnerware with bone china and high-quality flatware.
- Using freshly sourced, seasonal and locally grown ingredients whenever possible.
- Conducting meal rounds on a weekly basis to meet with patients to understand how we can best serve them.
- Being the first in our network to convert to an In-Room Dining model similar to hotel room service.
With meals like homemade blueberry lemon ricotta pancakes for breakfast and roasted cauliflower flatbread pizza for dinner, it’s no wonder our patients’ faces light up when their meals are delivered.
Providing support during the COVID-19 pandemic with food and nutrition
When it came time to modify the dining experience in the COVID-19 pandemic, the team at Huntington was ready to join the fight. Clinical Registered Dietitians work daily with the interdisciplinary team to optimize nutrition support for increasingly complex critical COVID patients who are fighting the virus. This is especially vital as research indicates that adequate nutrition can decrease the number of vent-dependent days and the mortality rate. The team transitioned to a modified meal delivery service to limit disruptions to the nursing staff. They worked together to create an abridged COVID menu to help lower staffing needs while accounting for the nutritional needs of our patients during potential shortages of enteral supplies.
This passion for using food to heal goes beyond the meals delivered to our patients. Chefs worked daily to make free homemade healthy snacks to fuel caregivers while they work on the front lines. Get well cards have been added to patients’ meal trays in hopes to help brighten their days and let them know that Food & Nutrition is available to provide support. When Meals on Wheels came to a halt during COVID-19, Huntington’s Food & Nutrition and the Quality Department filled the gap with the launch of “Mobile Meals,” a program where volunteers deliver meals produced and packaged by the culinary team to continue a life-sustaining service to homebound senior citizens in the community.
“Our team recognizes the important role food plays in the healing and recovery process,” says Sarah. “Food can help heal, and in the hospital setting, it can comfort. We are proud to serve our patients, caregivers and community members.”
If you feel you have the qualities needed to lead a fulfilling career in culinary services at Northwell Health, apply today.