Room service comes to UAB Highlands Hospital

UAB expands its popular room service meal program to patients at UAB Highlands Hospital


Patients at University of Alabama at Birmingham Highlands Hospital can now enjoy hotel-style room service meals in an expansion of the popular program at UAB Hospital.

The room service concept kicked off in October 2010 at UAB Hospital with participation from renowned local chef Frank Stitt. Patients choose from a varied and extensive menu, and meals called in are cooked to order in the hospital kitchen and delivered within 45 minutes.

Room service is a growing trend in small or boutique hospitals. UAB officials say that, to their knowledge, UAB is the largest in the nation to go to a full-time room service approach for all patients. It remains the only Birmingham hospital to offer the complete service.

“Our goal from the beginning was to provide room service meals at Highlands, as well as at UAB Hospital,” said Jordan DeMoss, associate vice president at the hospital. “The program has been very well received, and we’re excited to now offer it to our Highlands patients.”

“The response from patients and their families has been overwhelming,” said Charlotte Beeker, director of food, nutrition and guest services. “Patients tell us they appreciate having a choice in meals, and that the food is outstanding. It’s all part of giving the patient more options and, ultimately, a better patient-centered experience.”

Beeker says patient satisfaction scores have risen to the 92nd percentile in overall meal quality since the program’s inception.

Every patient has a menu in his or her room. The patient, or a family member or hospital staffer on the patient’s behalf, can call in orders between 6:30 a.m. and 7 p.m.

“Patients order what they want to eat when they want to eat it, rather than have a food tray appear in their room on our schedule,” said Beeker. 

The hotel-style room service does not add any additional costs to the patient’s stay. The hospital saw savings of more than $400,000 in the first year due to less wasted food.

The hotel-style room service does not add any additional costs to the patient’s stay. The hospital saw savings of more than $400,000 in the first year due to less wasted food.

Lunch and dinner options include soups and salads, entrée salads, deli and grilled sandwiches and numerous sides and desserts, including sugar-free offerings. Entrees include golden-crusted chicken breast, lemon baked tilapia and home-style beef pot roast and gravy, among other choices.

The menu, which was developed and tested by the Clinical Nutrition and Food Service team, also is marked to note heart-healthy menu items and the number of carbohydrates in certain offerings. The system is set up so patients or their family members will not order something inappropriate for a restricted diet.

“The room service model is a good patient-education tool,” said DeMoss. “It helps patients learn about good nutrition, healthy diets and portion control as they enjoy some of their favorite meals while in the hospital.”

An added treat continues to be menu items developed by renowned local chef Frank Stitt, a James Beard-award winner. Stitt designs three menu items that rotate quarterly on the menu.  UAB chefs prepare the items under Stitt’s tutelage, using ingredients purchased from the same vendors Stitt uses in his restaurants.

“I think good, healthy food can help nourish, restore and rejuvenate people who are in the hospital,” said Stitt. “Hospitals are about getting better, and good food can be a big part of healing.”