‘Food is Medicine’: New thinking about hospital food

May 19, 2023, 5:36 PM | Updated: 5:39 pm

MURRAY, Utah — When you think of a hospital, 5-star dining doesn’t come to mind. Intermountain Health chefs are working to change that.

“The thing that really differentiates us is the people and care that we put into everything,” Alex Govern, Corporate Executive Chef at Intermountain Health said.

He said they treat their patients as guests.

“We are saying that we care about every aspect of your stay with us, including the food,” he said.

Govern said they serve over 1,000 meals a day at Intermountain Medical Center in room service alone.

Guests can call from their room and order any menu item and it’s customizable to their dietary needs and preference.

“You can call from open to close and order for your needs,” Govern said.

Stan Wilson has been at Intermountain Medical Center for four weeks awaiting a heart transplant.

“In preparation for a transplant, they want us to be as strong as you can so it’s really important you have good healthy food,” Wilson said.

He said during his stay he’s tried just about everything on the menu.

“I’ve gained weight while I’ve been in the hospital and it’s not bad weight, it’s real food weight,” Wilson said.

Hospital malnutrition affects 30 to 50% of patients worldwide, according to a study by the American Society of Parenteral and Enteral Nutrition. It showed that patients who have lower meal intake experience increased mortality risk. This is something that Intermountain Health hopes to avoid by providing high-quality meals.

“Intermountain really looks at food as medicine,” Govern said.

He said that each cook at Intermountain Health has the goal of healing their patient guests.

“If you are a patient guest of mine, 99% of the time, it’s one of the worst days of your life, if we can impact that positively with a nutritional meal, and delivered with a smile, you’ll heal faster,” he said.

Govern said they also pride themselves in cross-utilizing ingredients in their meals to reduce waste.

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‘Food is Medicine’: New thinking about hospital food