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University of Iowa News Release

June 25, 2004

Not Your Average Hospital Food: UI Hospitals And Clinics Launches Room Service Program For Patients

Many people have different expectations about the quality of hospital food service. The Food and Nutrition Services Department staff at the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics is working to change those expectations. They are now delivering meals directly to patients much like fine hotels provide room service to their guests.

The A La Carte Room Service for Patients program is available to all inpatients, adult and pediatric, at UI Hospitals and Clinics. Hospital leaders say they believe UI Hospitals and Clinics is one of only a handful of large teaching hospitals in the nation to provide this comprehensive room service, extending the option to all patients, not just to certain groups of patients, such as mothers of newborns.

Here's how it works. A patient may place an order for a meal anytime from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m., seven days a week, by telephoning the A La Carte Call Center from their hospital room. A staff member reviews the order to ensure that patients receive food that is appropriate for their personal diet plans. Staff members then deliver the meals to the patient's bedside within 45 minutes.

A pilot project showed that the program reduces costs and waste, while it enhances patient satisfaction and nutrition.

"The response to the A La Carte Program from our patients and their families is very positive and gratifying," said Joan Dolezal, director of Food and Nutrition Services. "They've written and e-mailed us to thank us for providing the service. One even sent us flowers, which is something of a first.

"This is a very exciting development in hospital nutrition food service," Dolezal added. "We received wonderful contributions from dozens of staff members and tremendous administrative support to bring this to our hospital."

If patients are unable to make a telephone call and there are no family members or visitors to available to assist them, a staff member will go to the patient's room and take their order. Patients can order any of the items on the menus at anytime during the service period.

UI Hospitals and Clinics is the state's only academic medical center. University of Iowa Health Care describes the partnership between the UI Roy J. and Lucille A. Carver College of Medicine and UI Hospitals and Clinics and the patient care, medical education and research programs and services they provide. Visit UI Health Care online at

STORY SOURCE: Joint Office for Marketing and Communications, University of Iowa Health Care, 200 Hawkins Drive, Room E110 GH, Iowa City, Iowa 52242-1009

MEDIA CONTACT: Tom Moore, 319-356-3945,