Room Service Meets Hospital Bed

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A hospital has gone the way of the hotel when it comes to dining options.

Feeding a hospital full of patients is no easy task.  Just ask the kitchen staff at Geisinger Medical Center near Danville.  The hospital used to operate under a traditional tray line method, where the food was prepared all at once.

"Every patient in the hospital we would attempt to feed at, say, 12 for lunch and 5 for dinner.  In essence, trying to feed the entire hospital at one time," said Bruce Thomas, the VP of Guest Services at Geisinger.

Food is now cooked to order.  Anything a patient wants from a menu at any time is delivered within the hour.  Requests from a patient's room are first screened by call center representatives.

"They know what their diet is, have it in front of them, so they can see that specific to a patient, they can't order something the doctor isn't allowing them to have," said Thomas.

There are several different menus, for varying dietary needs.  There's even a special kids menu.

Baby Sean doesn't have to worry about picking out lunch just yet, but his mom Nellie McCabe does.  We found Nellie holding her tiny day-old son.  She'll have to stay a few days after her c-section delivery, but says the new menu options will make her feel a little more comfortable.

<I think it's wonderful.  You could order breakfast when you want it and they had it here in 45 minutes.  It's what you want, what's on the menu.  And we'll do dinner tonight," said McCabe.

Currently the kitchen operates from 6:30am until 7pm.  The staff is working in a new kitchen that's much bigger than the old one.  Geisinger had to hire 11 new people to make it all happen.

Officials estimate that 35-40% of hospitals nationwide have moved to this model.