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Published: Tuesday, 12/9/2008

Toledo Hospital dishing out changes

BY JULIE M. McKINNON
BLADE STAFF WRITER

In an effort to cut costs while still providing choices, Toledo Hospital next week will no longer serve scrambled eggs, bacon, sausage, pancakes, and other traditional hot breakfast items, giving adult and pediatric patients "hotel-style" continental items instead.

Oatmeal, cereal, fruit, toast, bagels, peanut butter, yogurt, doughnuts, and muffins will be among continental breakfast items Toledo Hospital patients will be offered starting Sunday.

Some choices will be different on the pediatric and adult menus, such as string cheese for youngsters and stewed prunes for older patients, and meals will be customized to meet any special dietary needs.

The menu change will save Toledo Hospital more than $100,000 a year in food and labor costs, although because of attrition, no food service layoffs will occur, said Mike Wilkins, vice president of professional and support services at the hospital.

Toledo Hospital typically serves 550 to 600 patient breakfasts daily, and officials assessed what changes could be made to cut costs while providing a variety of nutritional options, Mr. Wilkins said.

Many patients don't order meat or other hot menu items, often preferring fruit and cereal, he said. "There's only a few things we have taken off the menu," Mr. Wilkins said.

With lowered reimbursements and other economic changes hitting hospitals nationwide, going to continental-style patient breakfasts is one way to cut costs, said Bill Notte, past president of the American Society for Healthcare Food Service Administrators.

"A lot of people are very sick in the hospital and not able to eat a full meal," said Mr. Notte, also director of food service and nu-trition services at Shands at the University of Florida, Gainesville.

Hospitals that do go to continental breakfasts, however, also typically offer patients traditional hot breakfast items afterward to ensure they have had enough, Mr. Notte said. Food service managers constantly are looking for ways to eliminate food waste, he added.

Of ProMedica Health System's Toledo area hospitals, Flower Hospital is considering making some selection changes to its patient breakfast options, but it is not going to a continental-style menu, a spokesman said.

No other Toledo area hospitals - those that are part of Mercy Health Partners, the University of Toledo Medical Center, or St. Luke's Hospital - are planning to change to a continental breakfast, spokesmen said.

St. Vincent Mercy Medical Center patients order from a restaurant-style menu when they are ready for a meal or snack, and St. Anne and St. Charles Mercy hospitals have adopted similar programs.

UTMC, formerly the Medical College of Ohio, also has a so-called room service menu for patients.

Toledo Hospital patients will continue to select their meal choices the day before, Mr. Wilkins said.

The cafeteria at Toledo Hospital, meanwhile, still will serve traditional hot breakfast foods for visitors and employees. Some patients opt to go to the cafeteria and pay for meals, which they will continue to be able to do, Mr. Wilkins said.

"We don't encourage it - it's really not necessary," Mr. Wilkins said.

Contact Julie M. McKinnon at:

jmckinnon@theblade.com

or 419-724-6087.



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