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Patient Survey Says: SBUMC Room Service Ranks Best Among LI and UHC Hospitals

8/2/2007


Hospitals in Region Requesting Tours, Consultation with Food & Nutrition Team at Stony Brook

Seven years ago, Stony Brook University Medical Center faced a patient satisfaction crisis in its food service program. Press Ganey, the health care industry�s leading independent vendor of satisfaction measurement and improvement services, reported that Stony Brook�s inpatient food services ranked in the 3rd percentile range when compared to hospitals in its national database.

These numbers were not acceptable to Administrator of Hospitality Services, Suzette Smookler, who joined Stony Brook in 2000, and aggressively sought ways to improve the delivery of food service. Following incremental improvements over the years, the most dramatic change was implemented in May 2006, when the hospital embarked on a hotel-like model for food service delivery. Stony Brook�s "Distinguished Dining" is a room service program that empowers patients to order what they want, when they want it, in accordance with medical dietary orders.

One year after the program was introduced, with 17 different menus, a professional call center staffed with room service operators to take patient orders, and room service "ambassadors" clad in a black vest, trousers and white shirt, who explain menus and deliver food promptly, SBUMC is setting the standard for hospitals on Long Island. Press Ganey patient satisfaction scores now rank the Hospital�s Distinguished Dining food service in the 99th percentile among Long Island hospitals and University HealthSystem Consortium (UHC) Hospitals, a benchmark comparator group among academic medical centers. It has improved to the 90th percentile when compared to hospitals in Press Ganey national database.

"Research has shown that sound nutrition and good eating habits directly affect patients� health and speed of recovery," says Smookler. "This is why the Distinguished Dining pays careful attention to preparing the finest quality ingredients to our patients� specifications and delivers them fresh to the patient room within 45 minutes."

Many Long Island hospitals have requested tours and consultative meetings with Smookler and her team, which includes Executive Chef, Eric Ingoglia, who Smookler recruited to oversee the conversion of the hospital�s kitchen from an institutional setting to that of a restaurant; Paul Hubbard, Associate Director for Food Services who managed the procurement and implementation of food services equipment; and, Kathy Werther, Director of Nutritional Services who coordinated the implementation of the call center and training of all ambassadors. Representatives from hospitals including North Shore University Hospital, Nassau County Medical Center, Winthrop University Hospital, Good Samaritan Hospital, Glen Cove Community Hospital, Huntington Hospital, and most recently John T. Mather Memorial Hospital, have met with Stony Brook�s team over the past year with the goal to introduce room service for their patients.

"Patient satisfaction with meals is at an all time high," said Smookler. "We could not be more proud to know that our patients are happy with Distinguished Dining food service, and that it is meeting or exceeding their expectations."

Suzette Smookler, Administrator of Hospitality Services for Stony Brook University Medical Center.
Food Ambassador, Inez Rivera, delivers a made-to-order lunch tray and opens a milk container for kidney transplant patient, Sharon Napier, at Stony Brook University Medical Center. Inez was Stony Brook's employee of the month in May.
Kathy Werther and Suzanne Cottingham in the Distinguished Dining Call Center at Stony Brook University Medical Center. It is here where patients place their orders. Call Center Operators use computers with touch screens similar to those in the hotel room service business.
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