Culinary/Food Services at Eastern
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CTCA at Eastern Regional Medical Center (Eastern) recognizes how important maintaining a healthy, well-balanced diet is to the healing process. We also understand that your appetite and tastes may change during cancer treatment.
The culinary team provides healthful, specially-prepared meals to suit your culinary desires and selective tastes. During your stay, you and your caregiver will receive a complimentary meal allowance, which will help cover the cost of your meals.
The culinary team
The culinary team consists of 32 culinary professionals, including three sous chefs and 10 front-line cooks. The culinary team works closely with Eastern's Nutrition and Metabolic Support Department. Together, both teams strive to understand your needs and empower you to make the right food choices for you.
Your personalized meal plan
When you arrive at Eastern, you'll meet with a dietitian during your initial evaluation period. During this visit, you'll receive a full nutrition assessment to identify your daily goals for calories and protein, and any current or anticipated barriers to meeting your nutritional needs. You'll also discuss your food preferences and any special dietary needs or requests.
After the assessment, your dietitian will work with you to develop an individualized nutrition plan to complement and support your other cancer-fighting therapies. Your dietitian will work directly with the hospital’s culinary team to create menus and recipes just for you.
We understand that cancer and its treatment can cause side effects, such as nausea, diarrhea, decreased appetite, and poor use of calories, which can contribute to malnutrition. Throughout your care, your dietitian will strive to proactively manage the symptoms that correlate to an increased risk of malnutrition.
Furthermore, there are certain foods that may be better tolerated during your treatment. Your dietitian will help make those suggestions, and the culinary team will respectfully honor any special request that improves tolerance to treatment or helps support your nutrition status.
Eastern’s Dining Room
You won’t find typical hospital food at Eastern.
The culinary team prepares every meal from scratch, using the finest ingredients, while avoiding preservatives and chemicals.
With each meal, you will encounter a wide variety of fresh, whole food choices. This includes local free-range chicken, a variety of fish and organic beef, along with whole grains, seasonal fruits, and vegetables.
The Dining Room also offers four homemade soup choices daily, a fresh salad bar, a fresh juice bar, and a variety of light pastries, all made in-house daily.
Some of the unique cuisine stations available in Eastern’s Dining Room include the following:
- Soothing Selections: Our patients tell us that sometimes their treatments cause them to be more sensitive to spices. The "Comfort Zone" offers the Chef’s daily selections without seasoning. Since no seasoning is added to the dishes, you can add your own spices to suit your tastes. This can make a big difference if you are having taste changes or problems with eating.
- Vegan Valley: We offer daily vegetarian options for patients who are interested in eating more of a plant-based diet. The Chef’s daily selections change, although the grilled veggie burger is available every day.
- Gluten Free: Gluten is a protein found in wheat, rye and barley. If you are more sensitive to it than others, gluten can cause indigestion, pain and/or diarrhea. We offer gluten-free meal options daily.
Furthermore, the Dining Room is place of fellowship where patients, families and hospital staff can interact and share common experiences. Regardless of whether you are by yourself or with a loved one, the Dining Room is a safe haven of respect, camaraderie and belonging.
Accommodating your special food requests
During cancer treatment, the last thing you may want to think about is food. The culinary team is here to accommodate your special requests and needs. If something doesn’t sound good to you, you can request another meal.
Our Chef will always offer selections designed specifically for each meal, although we understand that your desires may not always match our good intentions. You may always deviate from our Chef’s selections and design a meal that meets your particular needs.
Together, you and your dietitian will find foods your body can tolerate. Providing patients with their favorite comfort foods is one example of how the culinary and nutrition teams demonstrate the CTCA Mother Standard® of care. Your dietitian will learn what you eat at home in order to incorporate those foods into your meals at the hospital.
The nutrition and culinary teams will go to great lengths to make sure you get what you need. If you request a particular food that is not offered on the menu, the nutrition and culinary teams will often make special trips to the store to bring it back for you.
In addition, prior to your return visit to the hospital, you can email your dietitian with any special requests. Some patients email their dietitian a week before coming to the hospital to make sure certain foods are available when they arrive.
At Eastern, we offer room service to every inpatient guest and their caregiver. If you are an inpatient, a representative from our culinary team will be assigned to your room for each meal.
First, your physician will provide a diet order based on your medical status and recommendations by your dietitian. Then, a culinary representative will visit with you prior to each meal so they can review the Chef’s meal selections as they pertain to your diet order.
We understand your tastes and food desires may change frequently from day to day. The culinary team will do everything possible to accommodate your changing food preferences. Rather than get a menu the day before and have patients predict what they might want the next day for meals, the culinary team is available to take patients’ meal requests in real time.
In addition, sometimes eating solid food is difficult and you may prefer to drink your meals. To make sure you get the necessary nutrients, the culinary team collaborates with your dietitian to provide a variety of protein powders, shakes and smoothies. A combination of food and shakes may, often times, be enough to support you during treatment.
Maintaining optimal nutrition status and choosing nutrient-dense foods is an important part of healing and wellness. The culinary team collaborates with the nutrition team to provide educational opportunities for you and your family.
For instance, the nutrition and culinary teams hold cooking demonstrations every other month in the dining room. If you want to know what you should be eating and how it is made, the teams will cook a meal right in front of you.
Follow-up nutritional support and recipe cards
Once your cancer treatment is complete, your nutritional needs will change. As part of the CTCA Survivorship Support Program, the nutrition team is available to help you develop a plan for maintaining a healthy, well-balanced diet at home.
Choosing fresh, seasonal produce, supporting local farmers, using healthful recipes, implementing ideas from cooking demonstrations, and attending grocery shopping tours are just some of the suggestions the team may provide to make the transition to healthful eating at home. The nutrition and culinary teams also provide recipe cards, featuring healthy dietary options, which you can take home with you.
Dining Room hours
Eastern’s Dining Room is open seven days a week. Meals are designed to be served during the hours indicated below, although accommodations will be made during off-peak times.
Breakfast: 7 a.m. – 10 a.m.
Lunch: 11:30 a.m. – 3 p.m.
Dinner: 4:30 p.m. – 6:30 p.m.
The Grill: 7 a.m. – 6:30 p.m.
Late Night Grill: 6:45 p.m. – 9:30 p.m. (Monday – Friday)
Saturday & Sunday Brunch: 10:30 a.m. – 3 p.m.
Room Service: 7 a.m. – 6:30 p.m.