By Kirstin Grace-Simons (Madigan Army Medical Center)March 13, 2019
Editor's note: Madigan Works! is a video series created especially for social media platforms to inform patients and the general public alike what goes on behind-the-scenes to make Madigan work. Each episode will have an accompanying article. This episode offers a taste of how the Nutrition Care Division helps the healing process.
MADIGAN ARMY MEDICAL CENTER, Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash. -- Many visitors and employees of Madigan Army Medical Center are familiar with the Madigan Grille Dining Hall. Selling 438,000 meals every year, this retail facility uses 600 loaves of bread and 9,800 cartons of milk in a single month in its large-scale production.
"Our main role is to provide nutritious meals to our patients to aid in their recovery," said Master Sgt. Daryl Paquet, the chief Nutrition Care Division noncommissioned officer in charge as he recently showed the operation to Col. Suzie Scott, the hospital's deputy commanding officer.
"As a nurse by trade, I absolutely appreciate the importance that food and nutrition have on the health and healing of our patients," said Scott.
Paquet explained the assembly of patient trays as they were being prepared for lunch service. Foods are added to the trays from cold to hot to keep them hot longer.
"Approximately 60 percent of the patients are on a modified diet; we'll make those parts individually," said Paquet. "Feeding the patients the foods they need in the way they need is most important."
As Scott watched the preparation of a modified meal, Paquet explained a recent performance improvement project that prompted new methods.
"It identified that we should move from the national dysphagia diet to the international one," said Paquet, explaining that the move improved nutrition along the way.
With little guidance available on preparing these foods, and Madigan being the first military treatment facility to put this diet into practice, a lot of in-house testing has been done to get things just right.
"This diet is for someone who has trouble swallowing, which can be caused by many things and is not uncommon for people in the hospital," Paquet explained.
Since food is a highly sensory experience, it needs to be appealing to a patient in order to ensure they will consume it and get the nutrition that is not only needed on a normal day but is especially important as they heal. For someone already lacking an appetite, food's appeal on the plate becomes even more significant.
"We puree foods that give them the nutrition they need, but then we form them back up to look and feel like the regular food so they get as close to the normal experience of those foods as possible," said Paquet.
Highlighting another area he thought Scott might be interested in, Paquet also said, "Nutrition care is always striving for improvement; we not only Go for Green, but we go for a green environment as well."
Go for Green is the Army initiative to encourage choosing healthy foods, or those categorized as green on a nutrition stop light.
"We recently switched from paper and Styrofoam products to more earth-friendly compostable ones," Paquet said.
Noting that the division is always looking for ways to improve, Paquet reminded Scott that, just like nurses and doctors, it has a vital role in aiding a patient's speedy recovery as well.
To see this video episode of Madigan Works!, check out Madigan's Facebook page at: https://www.facebook.com/MadiganHealth.